Thursday, April 21, 2011

possessed American

I am in a room, surrounded by things. In America, it is so easy to become overwhelmed and burdened by our possessions. This is such a problem, that there is an ongoing television series called “Hoarders”! And many of us are not SO far off from those featured on the show. Hopefully you aren’t so obsessed with keeping things that you can’t take your TRASH out! But look around your house and just think about this: How many winter scarves do you own? How many do you NEED? How many pairs of shoes? How many do you NEED? How many cookbooks? How many do you actually USE? How many mugs? (Oh I am guilty on this front!) How many do you require? (Come on Rebecca, when was the last time you served coffee to 20 people in glass mugs?!! LOL) I’ve spent so much time asking myself these tough questions, and paring down, and I STILL have...Way. Too. Much. Stuff.  It’s an ongoing struggle here. But this week, I’ve gotten fed up with our stuff, which caused me to reflect on some sermons I heard recently. Our former pastor preached through the book of Ecclesiastes last year and I've been listening to his wonderful sermon series! This book of the Bible discusses how brief, busy and wearisome life is, and recommends that we enjoy the simple things we have( love, work, and wealth) while we have them. This has caused me to look at my possessions differently. I've started to see the burden they can be. We live in a small apartment with 2 children, and having too many things has been causing me so much stress. I truly have to choose between my kids and my home. If I want our home to be remotely tidy, I sacrifice my children, and if I want to enjoy my kids, our house is a constant mess. Lately I have tried to spend more time with my children, which I believe is the best choice (a delightful, though not always easy one) but after only a few weeks, I’m drowning in things and the chaos they create. I have put a ton of effort into good storage, it’s just not enough! So lately I've realized that we have too much, and I need to be more radical in my fight against materialism. Until recently, if something had a use, it was "useful" and therefore kept. But now, I am beginning to see how even useful things can suck life from you. For example, I love my mugs. But when I have 20 of them, and all 20 end up getting used and put into the sink…INSTANT stress! This is ESPECIALLY true with children's toys. Sam has many bins of toys, and sometimes he just dumps them all out on the floor. Some of these toys have many pieces. If we don't pick up his room when he's done, he won't want to play in it anymore, because he can't even choose a toy to play with. It's TOO much visual stimuli! I don't blame him, because I feel the same way. I have so many clothes, most of which don't fit properly, yet I cling to them. I end up digging through mounds of clothes trying to find "the shirt that is comfortable and fits and isn't stained." :) I want to have maybe a weeks worth of clothing that works and nothing more. We have so much more than we need. So now that I've had these realizations and I feel that I "need" a certain object, I've come up with two questions that help me discern whether an item is going to benefit my life or waste it:


Is having this item WORTH the amount of Joe’s life it will take to pay for it?
Is owning this item WORTH the time and effort I will spend cleaning it up?


On a side note, I do believe in the importance of owning a moderate amount of things you enjoy for simply for their beauty! But that is a post for another day. :) I want to enjoy my life, and the things I own. I DON'T want to be possessed. :) I'm at the start of a journey to a place where our home is purged of excessive/ugly/burdensome things, and there is more space/time/energy to enjoy life together. One good thing that will be accomplished on this journey is donating many things to the thrift store for people who want to spend less. And eventually, I'd love it if we were able to give money we save to those who need BASIC things...Food. Clean water. Clothing. Shelter.  I'm excited, but there is such a long road ahead...

4 comments:

Mike and Christie said...

Oh how I love this post!

doug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Well said! What you said about Joe's work hours to pay for it..reminded me..

Years ago there was a book I had on interlibrary loan request because they didn't have it at our library. I don't know if I ever did read it, I kinda think I did and that it wasn't as profound as the title...

The title was "Your Money Or Your Life" taken from the old line that was said to be used by Highway Robbers in the UK when they held up a Coach.

They authors intended to extrapolate this...we give our lives (it time and work) to get things..we give life for money. Obviously we have to work and take some kind of dominion over the chaos of the world in our little corner of the garden, but it's an interesting way to look at it. I always think back to that title.

Beyond us it could be "your things or the gospel" ie money not spent on things could be spent on the spread of the gospel, whatever form that takes.

Elayne said...

Great post Becca! I am continually fighting these very same issues. Sad part is the house is just bigger ( more stuff) the kids are grown and starting their own families but all live close by.
So...do we downsize, keep the boat, camper, jet skies, etc. BECAUSE it brings so much joy and time together as a family, but yet we too feel so burdened with all this STUFF!! Great topic :)