It’s been a constant struggle for us – containing our flesh(ly desires) to make more room for our Savior to dwell within us. In some ways, we struggle more in a physical way, and sometimes just spiritual…but really, it’s all the same.
As my husband and I have grown in our marriage and as parents (and children of the Most High King), we’ve learned some very hard lessons about stuff.
Like, you don’t own stuff, it owns you.
At first, we thought that sentiment was ridiculous – I mean, how could a boat or huge house or toys OWN us. Get real. But if you’ve ever felt the anxiety that comes with your “stuff” breaking and the cost and time of repairing and maintaining (or replacing), you know what I mean. It takes up space, time, and money.
Yet, we live in a society that says GIVE ME MORE! It’s a battle each and every one of us fight to overcome, but it’s a constant battle that never ends. We want better and then when we get it, we are only satisfied for a little while…and then we want more. No matter where we look, we’re told we need more and how life is just not worth it if you don’t have certain items.
We make excuses for why we participate in the game of stuff, often times using our children to justify -
“I just want them to have more than I had.”
“I don’t want them to ever have to worry about not having enough money.”
It was a sobering moment the day my husband and I looked around ourselves and saw our stuff for what it was. Stuff.
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:19-24)
We’d spent countless dollars and it was making us miserable. Sure, we had become PROUD of what we’d amassed, and we were happy when we bought it…so, why weren’t we satisfied? Why did it just awaken a greater unquenchable hunger for more deep inside of us? Why did it feel like we were never really going anywhere except for in circles?
I remember the day we began to purge our things, choosing to leave behind some of our once-treasured items. I remember the day we gave away our televisions. I remember the weird looks and the looks on people’s faces that clearly let us know that they thought we’d gone off our rocker. But, we didn’t care. Because one by one, we are breaking chains that bound us to this world. –One by one, we were letting go of the clutter so we could have more room for Him, our Savior.
Granted, some of the giving away of our things was hard – there were some things that we were forced to let go. There were some things that took a learning curve to figure out that we didn’t NEED it, regardless of what the rest of the world says.
But, there’s something about freedom…whether you discover it on purpose or accident…one you get a taste of it, you want more.
And, so we became more intentional. We began with the things that we didn’t just absolutely like. Or, things that were taking up too much of our time and money. You know, like the TV…or the appliances that only did one thing (smoothie maker), or massive collections.
To be honest, some things are much easier for me to give up than others.
I have a rough time giving up the totes of my kids’ clothing. I mean, what if for the next baby we just didn’t have enough money to buy all new clothes. I was being thrifty, right?! I was being financially smart, right? Well, maybe. Except my motive was based out of fear that my God wouldn’t provide for me and my family. That realization was a little painful. Ouch.
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifeb?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)
I would love to tell you that we have this mastered, and while we’ve come a long way, I think it’s something we will battle for the rest of our lives here on Earth.
But, it IS becoming easier in so many ways. And, because of this journey we have begun, we do look at things a lot differently than we used to.
I’m pretty sure some of our family and extended-family think I’m insane/ridiculous/mean/fill-in-the-blank because I actually ASK people to please not buy my children STUFF. Or, we may be so bold to ask that everyone who wants to give, give our children experiences to experience with us (like tickets to a play, ballet lessons, a trip). A lot of times, I’m ignored…or made fun of when they think I won’t ever know. And, I do know… but that’s less of the point. They just don’t understand, I don’t think. And, that’s okay.
We aren’t on a journey to make more space for Him to impress anyone…it’s not meant to be a big blinky sign that says LOOK AT US. But, at the same time, when people do see us, we don’t want them to just see our stuff.
I’ve heard so often people say, “I want them (our kids) to have more than I did” or “I don’t want them to feel like we don’t have money” –and, that’s not what this is about for us. For us, this is about God. It’s about our relationship to HIM and to OTHERS…not to stuff. It’s about my family growing together and not giving in to what the world says we need. It’s not about depriving my children from a 6th doll house or another toy, it’s about raising them to see the significance in the things that really matter. It’s about showing them that it’s OKAY to go against the mainstream crowd. It’s about showing them in a real way that joy comes from God, not the junk you shove in your closets.
Are we saying that money is evil and everyone should sell all of their things and wear potato sacks in a dumpster? Nope. If that’s what you’re getting from this, I’d venture to say you’ve sorely missed the point. The Bible calls us ALL to not store up treasures on this earth and to let them become your gods and to not worry about tomorrow. But, it doesn’t say each of our journeys will be exactly the same, nor does it say how much money is too much. It just tells us to not let it be our focus, to not let it drive us, to make sure our priorities are straight. It’s also not meant to be ammunition to judge our neighbors. We have much more than some and much less than others…and, that’s not the point. The point is to simply be more intentional in our own journeys.
THAT is where we are.
And, in this intentionality, we are discovering how hard it can be to let go of some things and yet, the freedom that comes when you finally do.
Do you struggle with STUFF? Are you like me and have any particular areas you struggle with more than others? (–For me, it’s everything in our storage unit, books, craft supplies, clothes…and feeling like I need a bigger home.)