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Thursday, September 13, 2012

An excess confession

I haven't blogged about the 7 month fast in awhile. It's still going strong! We have just finished up the possessions month - the plan was to give away the equivalent of 7 items a day for a month - 196 items. We really wanted to find a good place for all of our possessions to go.  Our church hopped on board and now we have a free yard sale planned for some folks in our refugee community here and we're collecting donations to add to our stash! I'm excited.

But that's not why I'm blogging. I have to confess to the ridiculous amount of excess I have in my life.  We have an older home, which means smaller bedrooms and even smaller closets. My husband & I have a closet, a wardrobe and two dressers in our bedroom just to fit all of our clothes.  Plus I put my summer stuff in the attic for the winter and vice versa every season.  After this month, we have downsized to a MUCH smaller wardrobe (that still isn't full), I don't have to move my clothes around with the seasons, and Rob has an entire empty drawer in his dresser!  We had that many extra clothes.

It gets worse. As I went through each room, I wasn't just de-cluttering. I was honestly looking for things that I felt we needed to give away. I had twenty almost brand-new wooden puzzles in the cabinet in the family room; a few that I don't think my kids ever put together even once. I found a tabletop grill we haven't used since we moved here seven years ago.

And it wasn't just like-new stuff we've been hanging on to. I found the food processor we got for our wedding NINE years ago still in the box (um, thanks Auntie Karen! She reads this blog, so this is super-embarrassing to admit!). At the time we got married we were living in a little apartment so I had gotten a smaller one but held on to the big one for when we bought a house. Well, we've been in this house almost seven years and it still hasn't made it out of the box. Actually, knowing Auntie, she'll be happy to know it will find a new home in with a refugee family.  AND I found a dehumidifier I bought when I was pregnant with my SIX YEAR OLD because Babies R Us told me I had to have a dehumidifier.  Still in the box. With the receipt taped to the side, no less.

I do street outreach with the homeless every week, sometimes more. My homeless friends have nothing; no house, only the possessions they can carry with them or fit inside their leaky tents. My youngest son is from a country where people are starving.  Yet it was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy for me to find way more than 196 items in my house that we did not need. It's an outrage that I am hoarding things in my house when my brothers and sisters have nothing.

Something is wrong here.

It's easy to blame this on our materialistic, "take care of #1" society. But I would have told you I don't subscribe to that. I would have told you I'm not really into clothes, that I don't amass "stuff." I would have told you how I don't have an iPhone or an iPod; that I can't remember the last time I bought new clothes that weren't from a crazy sale from Old Navy or Target. I would have told you that I am trying to live a life that doesn't put me and my family first.

I'm failing more than I realized.

This seven month fast isn't a lesson in how well I can follow rules. It is my attempt to draw closer to Jesus, to give Him more attention and let Him shine light on seven different areas of my life: food, clothing, possessions, how I use media, waste, spending, and stress.  The lessons are painful; it's like I'm hanging my pride, my vanity, my selfishness, my insecurity out on my clothesline. But the result is beautiful. I'm not happy that my house is less-cluttered. I'm happy that God's has brought my attention to how I am storing up stuff.

Because Jesus loved me before I took stock of how selfish I've been. He loves me now that I've realized it. Following Him is not about doing things to gain His approval. His approval is free; I don't have to earn it. But my joy comes from following him; from shaping my life to encompass more of his grace. What an honor that is.

2 comments:

  1. ....and YOU, my dear niece, are truly THE most beautiful person I know...I am humbled every time I read your remarkable blog....love & big hugs comin' your way...
    -auntie-

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  2. Me too! We have way, way too much stuff. And the embarrassing thing is that we've been getting rid of stuff in earnest for over a year now and there's still TOO MUCH! After reading 7 I can at least say I've drastically curbed my buying of little things here and there. If I have more than 7 things in my closet (and I always do) and my kids have more than 7 things hanging in their closets (and they always do), then I can honestly say, "I don't need it, even if it's on sale!!"

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