It dawned on me a few days ago – as I stood amidst the rubble of shoes, clothes, candles, books, and papers that is my room – I just have too. much. stuff.
I’ve lived my life as a mild hoarder with a tendency to accumulate and a severe inability to purge. I’ve always disguised this character flaw of mine as “thriftiness” and rationalized it as my recognition of material blessings that others aren’t as fortunate to have. As a youngin’, I was incredibly bothered by my mother’s constant desire to throw out or donate unused, excess items (food, clothing, knickknacks, etc.) that cluttered up our downstairs. I thought of this as “wastefulness.”
And, if we were to discuss this in detail, I would certainly stand by these beliefs… to an extent. Yet, they have not come without grief and, I realized as I inspected my overflowing mess of a room, may not be in line with God’s will for my life.
Now, I’m not really sure if God cares whether I have a messy room or not – I tend to think He mercifully turns a blind eye. However, my self-proclaimed thriftiness rather may be a deep, unrealized attachment to my possessions. It alarms me that the thought of parting with my things pains me a bit. And there’s no denying that I would survive without more than half of what I own.
And while I seek serve others, give to those with less, and preach charity to others, is it not hypocritical for me to live in excess? And how can consider all worldly things – including my possessions – “as loss” and “rubbish,” so that I may gain Christ? (Philippians 3:8)
I’ve deeply considered – and been frustrated by – the way to live this out. Is it tangible or simply personal? Do I change my attitude and view towards buying and owning things? Or do I get rid of my things? Or do I pray and wait?
And while I think the answer is a little of all of the above, I feel God pointing me towards a more concrete answer as I stumbled upon Matthew 19 this morning. Jesus addresses the man in search of everlasting life “with many possessions” and tells him to sell his possessions, give the profits to the poor, and follow Jesus. The man just walks away upset (“very sad,” as my Bible puts it). And even so, Jesus tells the disciples after the man has left that those who do this will receive a hundred times what they lose on earth while on the “new earth.” I can’t help but wonder if that’d be me… too saddened by the thought of losing a grip on the world to take action; too attached to what I own to obey Jesus’s call; too proud of what I’ve accumulated on earth to look my Savior in the eyes and trust in the Lord’s promises.
Why is it just so challenging to find contentment and comfort in the amazing promises (beyond my humanly understanding) that God offers, instead defaulting on the world’s “gifts” that have failed me time and time again?
I know I do not have an answer. I am just me. But I have decided to follow in obedience. I feel that standing amidst my conviction and remaining paralyzed is like mortifiedly staring at the heaps of laundry on my floor and stacks of books on my desks without intention to clean them up.
So, that’s what I am going to do. I am going to start by cleaning my room. I am going to part ways with some of my things – a majority of them being clothes because, well, I’m a 20 year old woman –by the way of a local thrift store’s buyback program. I am going to put the money towards this coming summer’s Christian leadership school/ homeless ministry internship in the Tenderloin. And, as I feel called, I hope to fulfill God’s will and shape my grasp on my possessions accordingly.
I am discarding this world’s treasures to seek treasures in Jesus. I am seeking obedient simplicity in spite of the world’s grip on me.