What do you stockpile currently? What’s jammed in that closet?
Over the last year, what have you stockpiled?
The answer may surprise you. You may need to look deeper than your closet. In March and April of 2020, toilet paper was such a hot commodity that stores had employees policing the stock, so customers followed the big, bold, printed instructions: one pack per person.
If you dive into a thesaurus, stockpiling can also mean to layaway, cache, store, stow, treasure, or hoard.
Wait! With the first synonyms, I nodded my head until I got to “hoard.” Ick. But, we saw that, didn’t we? Or we did that, didn’t we? People hoarded toilet paper for fear of a potential need or crisis.
In the Bible, Lamentations 3 says God’s stockpiles of loyal love are immense. That got me pondering about my life and recent events. Do I believe God’s stockpiles of love are big enough to encompass my life? Do I live as though I do? What do I stockpile? And why? How do these stockpiles affect my relationships?
Let’s unpack some stockpiles and make room for more joy, love, and happiness in our life and marriage—I bet you’ll be surprised (and maybe even challenged) at a few on this list.
My mom taught me to keep a well-stocked pantry. I regularly review my food supplies and store enough food for a couple of weeks or maybe a month. Do you practice the same type of stockpile? A quick Google search reveals 1.85 million results on this topic. And Pinterest provides multiple sources for downloadable and printable lists for any preferred food program. During the recent pandemic, my well-stocked pantry and freezer filled in for items that quickly became scarce. What does my full pantry say about me?
Dreams and Desires.
Is it okay to stockpile dreams and desires? Would this be a positive cache? What dreams do you have or have had for several years? Is there anything you can do today to move toward achieving one?
Or maybe your dream “pantry” is empty. If so, I relate because I stopped dreaming for several years due to depression. One way I know I’m still dreaming is that my world is colorful. Depression turned my world gray. It was gray and filled with apprehension instead of anticipation. When those first stirrings of positive “what if” thoughts happened, my world turned to muted color. Eventually, as the depression lifted through hard work, counseling, and coaching, full HD-clarity color appeared. If you find yourself stuck in the gray, please reach out for help. What dreams are you stockpiling? Or do you need to permit yourself to begin to fill your dream stockpile back up?
Not a stockpile we often think about, but as I continue to ponder stockpiles, this one popped up. I have stockpiled wounds. Perhaps you might call this “holding a grudge.” It doesn’t matter how you name it. What’s important is to take an honest look at this stockpile. Would you classify this as storing the wounds, laying them away, or hoarding them? None of these options sound good to me. Stockpiling wounds isn’t healthy. What good do we perceive there is in holding on to that pain?
When I worked through the wounds from my sexual abuse and Dave’s porn addiction, I discovered how many hurts I’d stockpiled through the years. Some of this stockpile grew because I didn’t know how to process the pain. Instead of seeking help, I threw those wounds into a pile and slammed the door on that portion of my heart and mind.
If that decision sounds familiar, I get it. But this is one stockpile we don’t want to hold onto in any form. It took many months to uncover, acknowledge, accept, and recover. Eventually, my stockpile of wounds grew smaller. And yet to this day, one wound or another may surface forcing me to deal with another portion of it. Thankfully, I have the tools and resources to recover rather than shove it in that old corner and slam the door. What wounds are you stockpiling?
Family heirlooms and photos.
I classify these as treasures. They show my history, legacy, and heredity. People who lose their homes in fires or floods often miss family treasures and pictures the most. These items can’t be replaced like furniture, clothes, and decorative items. When we faced a forced evacuation due to a fire, the first items in our car were family photos, photo albums, and original paintings. Those photos, books, and handmade items prompt precious memories for me.
My cousins, aunt, and uncle reminisced about family members no longer with us at a recent family event. We laughed and shed a few tears. And, I heard stories I’d never heard before. Each heirloom memory enriched my heritage. These precious moments happen sparsely these days. What does this stockpile say about what I value?
Yes, this is different than dreams and desires. These expectations sneak up. When I thought about my marriage, I looked at my parents’ marriage and assumed (expected) that mine would be very similar. I knew it wouldn’t be the same, but I didn’t realize how many false expectations I brought into my relationship with Dave. And he brought a different set. By the way, this is totally normal for every human. The problem comes when these stockpiled expectations remain unspoken and result in wounds (see #3). Have you ever taken the time to talk openly about your expectations? Ask, listen, and resist the urge to judge.
At a recent event, I expected and desired to spend time with a dear friend. We live far apart, so I was filled with joy at the thought. But, as the event progressed, it was apparent our time together wasn’t going to be possible. I acknowledged this expectation, so did she, and we both agreed our desire for extended time together wasn’t realistic. There were no hard feelings for either of us, simply a readjustment of the expectation and honest acceptance of our reality. This exchange was so helpful for me and a sign of continued emotional growth. Just like the back of the closet at home, it’s best to see that stockpile potential and hop on it before it grows.
UGH! How many loose ends, or open loops, do you have? What task do you routinely procrastinate to complete? These unfinished tasks hack you and your productivity. My coach taught me a helpful exercise to harness these pesky loops. In his new book, Unhackable, Kary prods us to write down every task you need to do—personal, professional, family related, whatever. Put one task per sticky note. Yes, you need to write them down physically. This gets the thought out of your mind and into a physical space.
Next, make three columns on a piece of paper, tabletop, or wall. I used a wall for a blank canvas, then created these columns using larger sticky notes indicating: Do, Delegate, Dump. That’s it. Now, take each task and place them under one of these columns. No cheating by putting the sticky notes all in one column like “Do.” Before you tell me you can’t do this, think about what holds you back from tackling it? What fears immediately come to mind? This is normal. Every time we take an action step, our obstacles appear. The shift comes when you understand that the obstacles mean your unconscious brain is working on the solution. So, celebrate those obstacles! Your creative juices have begun to flow. That’s cool.
I had questions about the “Dump” column. Is it forever? It doesn’t have to be. I chose to make it for the next 90 days.
After completing this exercise again, I experienced a productive day, which was the first one in a long time. And guess what? I moved several items from Do to Delegate and Dump. What relief! What unfinished tasks might get finished if you evaluated your stockpile of tasks?
Here’s a cache I want to grow. Call this focusing on gratitude, hope, or joy. The point is to make a mind shift. There are several ways to help you do this intentionally every day.
- Journal your blessings. List at least three positive things about your life every day.
- Gratitude Jar. Find or make a fun or colorful jar, put some slips of paper next to the jar (your kids can cut these or tear strips), and some pens, pencils, or markers. Encourage every family member to jot down something they’re grateful for and drop it in the jar. Once a week, review these together. I love this one, especially with children.
- Express thankfulness to others. Tell someone you’re thankful for them. The act of telling someone why you appreciate them lifts your spirits. Try it; you’ll like it! And a Harvard study saw an increase in “happiness” by 15% when someone not only wrote down a positive thought but shared that in thankfulness with someone else.
- Ask for forgiveness quickly. We make mistakes more often than we desire. Readily ask for forgiveness. When I ask for forgiveness right away, admit what I did, and own the issue, life seems more productive and positive.
What do you stockpile?
Why do you stockpile these items? And how do they affect your relationships? Great questions to work through daily. Look at your stockpiles today. How would another person describe your stash?
These days, my goal is to build my stockpiles of gratitude, joy, hope, perseverance, authenticity, honesty, personal growth, and dreams. Which stockpile will you focus on first?
I’m thankful that God’s stockpile of loyal love never runs out.
You and I can never reach the end of it. Not only His love, but His grace, mercy, and truth are available to us in the Bible, God’s written word. He shows us exactly how to live an abundant life.
If you find yourself stuck hoarding unhealthy habits, emotions, and patterns, reach out for help. When dealing with difficult marriage and interpersonal relationship issues, it’s too easy to stockpile negative thoughts and emotions. Your first step to diminish those hoarded items is to acknowledge the pain. I can help. I’ve been there often. Let’s talk.