Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Material Possessions

We all like "things".  Material things.  Don't we?  I mean, it's really easy to browse in the shops in the mall and think how nice this or that would look in our homes, right?

Maybe you're just getting our start in our adult life and we've never had the opportunity to collect anything for our homes.  It's an exciting time!  Whether it's moving out on your own for the first time or starting out as a married couple, there's a time in your life when you realize there are so many things that you need.  That's fine.  That's great!  It's part of the excitement of staking your claim in the adult world.

But what if, like me, you've been married a year or two...or 11...and you have moved a few times since you've been out on your own, you've added a couple kids to the mix, you've downsized your dwelling, you've moved from a spacious house with ample storage to an apartment with very limited storage?  What then?  How important are those "things" then?

I've been struck for a while now that, while there are a lot of nice "things" out there, there's really nothing that I need.  Nothing.  I really mean that.  In fact, gift-giving between my husband and myself has been extremely limited.  Mostly due to financial constraints, but really, we've both gotten to a point in our late 30's that we have what we need and anything more is just icing on the cake.  Ok, so if someone wants to gift us something really nice, we'll be truly grateful!  But as for purposefully going out to buy a $200+ Le Creuset pot, that's probably not going to happen.

Source: simplebites.net via Sarah on Pinterest

We just listened to an amazing message at church this past weekend.  It was about economics, of all things.  It was one of the best messages I've heard.  Ok, so I love all our messages, but this one really stood out for both my husband and I.  This really stood out:

"Meeting needs of others is an obligation, not an option, if we are followers of Christ!"  ~  Jack Hoey

Think about it.  It's an obligation.  What does that mean for me?  For you?  How do we handle our resources?  Do we keep all of our wealth for ourselves, whatever that may mean for us (realizing that "wealth" is relative to our specific circumstances and situations)?  We must be understanding of the people in our society who are the most vulnerable.  Hoey went on to say this:

Are you content with what you have?

"Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have."  Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

Maintain a perspective on how much you actually have.

"If a man shuts his ear to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be heard."  Proverbs 21:13 (NIV)

How are we giving of our resources to help those in need?  Do you realize that you can give in more ways than just money?  You can give of your time and talent as well as your treasure.  What do you have that could benefit someone in need?  If it's money, that's fantastic.  If, like us, financial resources for giving to the poor are scarce, then perhaps it's your time or talent that you could generously offer.  How about volunteering in a women's shelter?  A homeless shelter?  Participating in adopt-a-blocks in less-fortunate areas in your city?  If you're able, what about a missions trip?

But what about this?  If you're just an average middle class family with "nothing" to give, take a look around you.  How can you be a blessing to someone else in need?  What do you have in your home that is just taking up space, not being used?  Perhaps it's bins of "too small" clothes the kids have outgrown.  Maybe it's clothes you've outgrown!  Maybe it's last season's clothes that you probably won't wear again.  Chances are, there's something in your home that could be more of a blessing in someone else's home than in your own!

I've spent a lot of time recently watching "Hoarders" on Netflix.  Ok, so if you're familiar with the show, you know that these people have some sort of mental disorder that causes them to shop or collect compulsively and to stockpile anything and everything in their homes until there's no space to have any type of quality life for themselves or their family.  These people are creating a hazard for themselves and others by the way they live.  What's sad is, while I would not call myself a hoarder, I can certainly identify with some of the emotional attachments I've formed with some of the things I have in my home.  It's helping me to realize that I truly do not need the excess that I have.  

Then we heard this message at church and I thought, yeah, it's time to do something.  So over the past couple of days, I have been working for hours around our small 1350 sf two bedroom apartment.  My gosh, we desperately need a 3rd bedroom.  That said, with all the decluttering in process, I'm seeing we don't need extra square footage...just an extra bedroom so we all have a place to sleep!  {More on our unconventional living arrangements another time.}

Trust me, I do go through our closets periodically and I come out with bags of stuff each time.  We aren't collecting an excess in between clean-outs.  But somehow, with each new clean-out, I'm able to let go of more and more stuff.  Some stuff is truly trash.  I spent a few hours shredding years worth of credit card statements the past couple days!  Did I really need to hang on to those receipts from 10 years ago??  There is some sentimental stuff being found, but this time around I'm really trying to let go rather than continue to keep what I truly don't need.

It's still a work in progress, but I've managed to cull out bags and bags of clothes and household "stuff".  It's absolutely amazing what is going out the door!  It feels good because it's creating much-needed space.  More importantly, it's knowing that the things I've hung on to for so long now have an opportunity to be a blessing to others who need these things.

What's taking up space in your home?

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