Emotions are most certainly tied to at least some of our possessions. We long to cling to our memories, but this is not always a good thing. Though we may mean well, our old keepsakes can bring about hindrances, spiritually and mentally. A mother may stash away every report card that her child brings home, an athlete may hang on to every trophy or award they have received since grade school, but despite the scenario, there are potential detriments to every situation.
I would define the primary force behind sentimentality to be memories. We all love certain feelings of nostalgia brought on by fond childhood memories and the like. It feels good to remember how deeply someone once cared and to know that you are loved. However, despite the potential 'silliness' of the matter, the same childhood memories could also be a stark reminder of a certain bully who pushed you around on the playground, which, in turn could cause feelings of hatred to lodge their way into the mind, even toward someone whom you have not seen in many years. Those old trophies on the shelf could continually lead you to praise God for legs to run the track and arms to throw a football, but they could also feed your pride like a steak dinner. Despite the euphoria brought on by memories of a past love, the recollection of past betrayals can be emotionally devastating. Although it should go without saying, certain memories can also lead us to daydream about what 'might have been,' leading to dissatisfaction with life, spouse, monetary situations, etc. Memories could even break out into lustful thoughts in our minds. In short, certain memories ought not be relived. Over the course of time, we lose touch with and break apart from people for a reason.
Having first-hand experience with depression, I can firmly say that memories can bring the warm fuzzies, but they can very often haunt the soul as well. As Christians, we are called everyday to put on the new self, because we are new creations and the old self has passed away.1 Hanging onto certain objects, whether it be old love notes, old pictures, etc. can be quite harmful. I don't intend to get too specific because every person is different, with various strengths and weaknesses, and you have to make these decisions for yourself. It might not be detrimental for me to hang on to my spelling bee awards from my adolescence, but it could be for you. (I have no spelling bee trophies. Purely hypothetical situation.)
The ultimate message I wish to drive home is that your sentimental keepsakes are not imperative to maintaining good memories. A perfect example is the realization Joshua Millburn came to in regards to his mothers passing away: "You see, I don’t need Mom’s stuff to remind me of her. There are traces of her everywhere. In the way I act, in the way I treat others, even in my smile. She’s still there, and she was never part of her stuff."
So, use discernment with your keepsakes. I am certainly not speaking against sentimentality altogether, just calling you to be careful with what you place your sentimentality on. Realize that the most precious memories are not found in reminders provided by glances at trinkets, but are housed deep within ourselves. I definitely don't want a bunch of sentimental clutter in my house, but even more, I cannot function in a healthy way with the weight of spiritual and mental clutter. We can certainly cherish the memories of the life the Lord has given us, but if there is even fraction of a chance that something could cause us to sin, we would do well to cut off and pluck out.2
1 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Mark 9:45-47
Special thanks to Joshua Millburn of "The Minimalists" for his permission to reproduce his heartfelt insight on sentimental items.