[We welcome guest blogger GREG HARTLAUB, an employee at St. Anthony Messenger Press in the Information Technology Department.]
There I sat completing an online health survey and the question appearing on my screen asked how many major life events have I had in the last year: 1, 2, 3 or 4 or more?
My memory brought forth the sewer backup that flooded my entire basement; then, a few weeks later, calling 911 to get my dad to the hospital. And if that wasn’t stressful enough, the next day God took home my older sister. Three days later, dad also died.
Fast forward to selling our house and buying my dad’s, where my wife and I had lived for the previous one-and-a-half years as his caregivers. And for the last two months, we’ve been without our kitchen as it is being remodeled.
Two weeks before the renovation began, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer (prognosis good, low incidence of recurrence and radiation only). The reality hit me that I had well over four major life events in the last year. Then, a week later, the basement flooded again.
Also during all this there was personal property remaining from my dad’s estate to be claimed by heirs, specifically all the grandchildren and my younger sister. The large pieces of furniture were finally claimed in December, although not yet retrieved at that time. All of the small stuff was still in the house along with our possessions from our old house still boxed up in the basement.
“Our belongings should not bog us down and make slaves of us. We should be surrounded with beauty, with things reminding us we are God’s children.” –from MAKE ROOM FOR GOD by Susan K. Rowland
By late March, with the kitchen about 90% complete, my anxiety level had kicked into high gear because no one was retrieving the remaining “stuff” that I had no legal right to remove. I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided the clutter had to go and took the necessary steps to make it happen. After much cajoling and heartache, it was removed the first weekend of April. Finally, after being displaced for the last two-and-a-half years, my wife and I can now claim our house as our HOME.
The material things that were cluttering my house were weighing me down physically, emotionally and spiritually. Now that they’re gone, I can focus on what matters most—my relationship with God and with other people. With the one-year anniversary of the deaths of my sister and dad quickly approaching, I can concentrate more freely on the wonderful man my dad was. It’s not in those material things where dad’s spirit lives on, but forever in my heart.
By the grace of God, may the years ahead bring many positive and joyful life events! And may God grant me the peace and freedom to be who I am meant to be!
Featured photo book: Make Room For God: Clearing Out the Clutter by Susan K. Rowland
Illustration by Vlado
Greg Hartlaub has worked at St. Anthony Messenger Press for the last 10 years as a Database Administrator/Programmer. He and his wife Leah have three adult children.