More Stuff I Have to Say about Stuff

10:44 AMHeather

So, yesterday I said some stuff about stuff.  And, truly--I hope it meant something to you.  Because I'm afraid I'm falling short in inspiring you all to join this journey of cutting the excess in our lives where God wants to be filling us up.  I don't just mean in our closets or in our cabinets.  I mean, those priorities and things we own that take the attention and dedication and admiration that should be God's alone.  

Funny.  As I blogged yesterday, I was preparing to rush off to my Bible study group for the 7 Experiment.  But, we needed to cancel.  So guess what I did ALL day?  

I purged.  I gleaned and trashed and picked through all kinds of stuff.  My personal plan for the week of possessions fasting in "7" was to clear out 7 items a day for a week.  I wanted to go through at least 7 areas in my home while I completed this task.  That's 49 items total in one week. (What can I say?  I'm a math genius)


Take a gander, folks. 

The pictures don't even do it justice.  See that wicker toy box?  It's filled with stuff, too.  That's about a quarter of my two car garage filled with bags of STUFF from my home.  From my closet, my children's rooms, linen closet, coat closet, craft closet, kitchen, formal living room, and garage.   That represents about 10 hours of work.  And it doesn't even show the stuff I threw away.  Namely about 35 bath toys that have been sitting under a sink, unused and growing mold worthy of any science experiment.  (sniff, sniff.  My kids are all too big to play in the tub anymore).

Don't forget.  I didn't think I had all that much purging to do.

I honestly quit counting items.  Safe to say I obviously outdid my goal of 49 items.  More like 49 PLUS about 1500, if I had to guess.  Even more disgusting?  I still have a few areas left to look.  Probably about 150 more items to ditch, I'm thinking.

You want to know what's worse?  If you came to my house, you wouldn't even notice that these things are missing.  You wouldn't walk into a barren house or even half-empty closets.  There MAY be one bathroom cabinet that looks pretty cleared out.  Otherwise, you could never tell that any purging occurred because we are still filled up here with stuff.

Geez louise.  

Here's what I'm realizing.  We've all been sold a big fat juicy lie.  And we bought it hook, line, and sinker.  We've all fallen for the deceit that we deserve more, new, improved, and the latest and greatest.  You have some jeans in your closet?  A few pairs even?  But you don't have THESE jeans.  You have some pans in your kitchen?  Great.  But, THESE are even better.  And they are on sale.  C'mon.  You can't afford NOT to.  We've been sold this great huge disgusting lie that it's normal and great and wonderful and a measure of success if we have more stuff.   If we just earn more, we can GET more.  Everyone else is doing it.  And, please.  It's not like we live like Bill Gates.  But, hey--we can dream, right?  Yish.  We have such an inflated image of the American Dream.  That we think we are all entitled to achieve.

The truth of the Word tells us that having stuff is NOT a measure of our significance or our value or our worth.  Not at all.  He who owns the most toys when he dies wins?  I don't think so.  Yet, even Jesus loving, God honoring, Bible believing people are all getting caught up in this lie.  Including myself.  So, I'm preaching to myself...listen in and maybe it'll hit a nerve with you, too.

I own all this stuff.  And apparently, thousands of items that I don't even want anymore and haven't used in who knows how long.  But, at some point, I spent my money on it.  Now, it's useless to me.  What did I gain?  Some stuff that quickly outlived its usefulness and took a few hours to purge and toss.  Because I've bought other stuff in its place.  More stuff destined for the same outcome someday--being purged.

The truth is that this stuff owned me.  And, I'm looking around at a house full of other stuff that is still owning me.  Because I spent money on it.  Used my resources for it.  Take pride in owning it.  It makes my life better and easier and more pretty, right?

Big negatory.  It's just stuff.  

Katie Davis drives this point home, once again, as I read Kisses From Katie.   I can't find the exact quote now, but it's something like this "In America, I was physically rich but spiritually poor.  In Uganda, I am physically poor but spiritually rich." 

She talks about how in America, she does not have to lean into the Lord to ask for food, shelter, medical care, and other basics.  She does not have a need to seek the Lord for these things and depend on Jesus' rich and faithful care.  She can simply access these things and obtain them on her own volition.  She is self-sufficient.  She has stuff.

In Uganda, she spends her entire day leaning into God for the bare neccessities.  And contrary to popular opinion, this need does not make her sad.  Quite the opposite.  It brings her joy.  Because she has cause to see God's hands reaching into her day over and over and over again as He cares for all of her needs. She is no longer distracted by her wants.  The stuff is out of the way.  And what's left is her and God.  She rests in His provision, and finds joy, peace and hope.  She depends on Him because she doesn't have a stock piled pantry, and overflowing closet, and a house full of stuff.  And, she's learned that the greatest riches and provision are still hers.  She's learned a huge secret. 

What we consider as "blessings" may actually be curses.  Because they are the stuff between us and the abundance of a deeply abiding faith in loving Father who provides.

Whew.  I'm not sure I can wrap my brain and my heart completely around this.  I don't think God is calling me to live in some third world country.  But, I do think he wants to open my eyes to all these "blessings" that are actually distractions and obstacles.  Because my stuff gets in the way.  Literally.  It takes my time, my energy, and my resources. I depend on it rather than on Him.  

I walked across my bedroom a few minutes ago to open my faux wood blinds and make my comfy bed with the pretty bedding.  And a thought occurred to me.  I'm so privileged.  I mean, the full impact of that thought hit me square between the eyes.  I'm so very privileged.  I felt a humility in that moment that I haven't felt before.  I felt a tug to embrace how privileged I am, to be content right where I am, and to invest myself more wisely.  

What if God can help me untangle the web of consumerism?  And in it's place, I found an abundance I've never known?  

I'm not exactly sure how to move forward from here.  I'm a list maker.  I need a concrete plan.  So, God--can you just lay out the 12 step program here and let me mark them all off as I go along?  

Truth is, I'm going to have to press into Him more and wait with expectation for some take-aways here that I can implement and live out.  I realize I should find hope and joy in the fact that as I'm unraveling these distractions and deceits and the stuff that I hold too tightly to, I'm well on my way to more abundant living with Him.

Here's what I got so far.  These are my action items, as I see them for now.

1.  One in, one out.  I want to adopt the rule of my husband's godmother.  One item into the home, one item out.  Vicky and her husband moved from a regular ole house to a 600 square foot New York City apartment.  Thus, all friends and family were asked to only give consumable things like food or stationery.  No stuff that just takes up space.  They didn't need stuff.  And for every item they bought, one item had to go.  In the closet.  In the kitchen (not food).  In the living room.  Etc, etc.

2.  Remember the junk pile.  I'm want to take a close look again at all that stuff piled up in my garage that's going away.  I want to burn it into my memory.  The stuff that I think I can't live without but don't really need will someday be nothing but stuff I have to purge.  Why bother? I want to look at those items and remember how I once longed for them and thought I had to have them.  But look where they ended up.

3. Want versus need.  I'm want to take a look around my house and realize a few things.  I don't need any more jeans, sweaters, dresses, shoes, or jewelry.  I will stop and consider what I actually need before I buy.  If I don't need it, I shouldn't buy it.  My kitchen is stocked with all the dishware and cook ware I need.  My walls are full with pretty pictures and decor.  My bathroom and linen closet are stocked with towels, bedding, and the like.  I need to take a prayerful look around and realize what I have and work much harder at purchasing for NEEDS--not wants.

4.  Remove consumer temptations.  I've already unsubscribed from a zillion email lists.  SO NICE to just avoid the temptations of emails about sales.  I'm going to trash the sales circulars and avoid the stores where I'm just "looking."  And, I'm going to try to either mute commercials on live TV or watch the DVR where I can fast forward through these calls to consume. Unless there is something I need.  I will make a list of such needs and purchase those.  I will not be distracted.

5.  Pray.  I'm want to pray that the Lord continues to help me unwind from this consumer web and show me where to go next.  Show me how to channel my energies and monies and resources for kingdom work.  In a way that pleases him.  Not just to add to my pile of stuff.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  But, that's where I'm landing right now. More stuff about stuff.  The stuff that distracts and clutters and takes up space in our home and in our hearts.  I am rallying the war cry that I will not be sucked in to being an indulged consumer!  I will more closely guard the stuff that I allow to take up space.  In my home...and in my heart, too.  I can't wait to see what stuff the Lord shows me next?  (I think!)         

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