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.


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

  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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