For Christmas, my parents gave me a jar filled with over six hundred small slips of paper written with conversation and writing prompts. This is the first of my responses:

My journal jar asks: How would you cope if you lost everything you own?

My first question back is: how did I lose everything I own? And then I am relieved, because it says, everything I own, not just everything.

How would I lose everything I own? Probably a fire or a flood. And I would do what others do, I would ask and depend on the gifts and kindness of others. But, if I lost EVERYTHING I own, would that also mean that I lost my savings? Maybe I’d also lose my debt. It would be harder to get back on my feet, though I know that we have family and friends who would continue to help us even when others had forgotten about us.

I’d grieve some things. My Great Aunt Bea’s oils. My engagement and wedding ring and descending doves. Some of my clothes with sentimental value. Tokens from my travels. Gifts from others that were made with loving care. My burgeoning scarf collection. Unsaved photos.

Other things would just be annoying. Clothes to replace. Dishes that I love and cookbooks with notes in them. Bedding and linens and things that make my house feel like my home. All our game collection. All those books.

Some stuff I’d be glad to be rid of. Things that I didn’t want to deal with, so I just threw it in a box and moved it again. Clothes that I keep looking at, don’t wear, but don’t feel like giving away quite yet. Memories I don’t want to keep.

But I’d still have my friends, and my family, and my church. What a relief to know that I have people around me who would support me if I lost everything. Some folks don’t have that. But I’ve been building my support system, and I have tested it already. It works.

If I lost everything I owned, it would try my patience, it would try my faith, it would try my sanity. I’d feel lost for a while. I’d go to a drawer and not realize for a while why what I was looking for wasn’t there. My things, and the loss of them, would act as a phantom limb.

I’d learn exactly how connected I am to my things. I can say that I am not very connected right now, but I still have everything. I am surrounded by my creature comforts, while near freezing rain falls outside. I don’t want to lose everything, but if I did, it would remind me how much I can and must depend on others.

I forget sometimes that I cannot do everything on my own. I don’t want to have to learn dependence by losing everything I own, but I do need reminders that I don’t depend on my stuff. I depend on the love of others, and I depend on a saving love that redeems me, without any of my stuff.


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