Over this past year, I have realized, we as Americans, have way too much stuff and I, personally, have too much stuff as well.
For me the quest for more stuff began as a child. I grew up in a lower middle class family. We were well fed and well kept, but there was not a lot of money for any extras. My toys would all fit in a small toy chest which my dad had bought unfinished and then painstakingly painted himself. All my wonderful treasures were kept in that small box. But as I grew I realized other kids had more toys, clothes and things than I. I realized their parents lived in nicer homes and drove newer cars. So my quest was to, at least eventually, have more. But did I really realize the consequences of my mission?
Now I have a house full of stuff: my stuff, my husband’s stuff and my kids’ stuff. Everything seems to be spilling over out of boxes, closets and cabinets. And my biggest fear is that I am teaching my daughters’ to want and need stuff too. I look at the spread of toys that not only fill my daughters’ rooms, but also spill over into about a quarter of my 400 square foot living room; frustrating me as I walk by since they are typically messy and unorganized. I look at my kitchen filled with gadgets, cookware and cups that we rarely use. My hobby room is full of supplies and gadgets. We have a collection of electronics, games and movies. More stuff than we could ever need, want or use. More clothes than we could ever wear.
I ask myself almost daily, “Do they really need all this stuff?” Several rationalizations pop into my head…“No, but we (or family or friends) spent good money on this stuff, so I just can’t get rid of it.” Or “Well, we may need this stuff later and I don’t want to have to buy more. So I can’t give it up just yet.”
So, how can I release myself of these ties to material possessions? Why do I worry about having things that make me happy? Why don’t I believe I have everything I need? Why do I store things thinking I may need them in the future?
I was recently reading an article about this subject that quoted this verse from the gospel of Luke: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15). Read more of Luke Ch. 12... And in the rest of this chapter of Luke, Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives, and God will take care of us.
Do I have all of these things because I don’t have faith that God will provide for me or take care of me? Maybe. Maybe I have become too reliant on myself rather than on God. Maybe my faith has weakened as I have aged. As I think of the possibilities, I think of how I can revitalize my childlike trust and faith in God.
I think my first step is to simplify my life, but first I need a plan. More to come…