Anticipating a move to a new home soon, I am spending the next few weeks elbow deep in unused kids toys, outgrown clothes, and unwanted knickknacks, sorting, tossing, and donating. I try to pare down my possessions at least once each season, but with an impending move, I’m tackling more than I usually do. No unused item is safe from the donation bag as I mercilessly weed through desk drawers and closets, reorganizing storage systems and questioning the existence of my VHS tape collection. Somewhere between vacuuming the dust off the unused picture frames under my bed and deciding that no, that souvenir whoopie cushion will NOT, in fact, come in handy some day, the inevitable question occurs: “How did I end up with so much STUFF?!”
While I’d like to exclusively blame “Santa Clause” or other well-meaning holiday gift givers for the slow but relentless expanse in the size of my hoard, I know I play a part too. If I’m honest with myself, I often live my life in cycles of gathering and purging. I go through stages where it feels as though I don’t have enough. My life is lacking something and I attempt to fill the void with a slight inflation in some area of my life. Suddenly, I’m treating myself to little purchases or gathering things out in the world to bring home with me to increase the beauty and therefore happiness (I reason) within my home. This doesn’t always mean shopping. Stuff enters my home in other ways. Thrifting, bartering, or soliciting donations or gifts, to name a few.
I allow things to enter my home in order to improve the beauty or lifestyle of those living in it. After all, creating a nice place where my family can live is one of many priorities I have as a wife and mother. Inevitably, however, I find that the things I bring into my home add up until I reach a point where I have too much. Caring for my possessions starts to encroach on the vast majority of my time and brain power. When I spend all of my time and mental energy shuffling my things around, moving them out of the way so I can reach other things, “stuff-shuffling” becomes one of my main functions in life.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a little kid, I never said I wanted to grow up to be a stuff-shuffler.
I don’t think “stuff-shuffling” was in God’s “Great Commission” to us as Christians either.
Rather, God wants us to focus on sharing the Good News of Jesus. Jesus isn’t just the “reason for the season” (are you listening, Santa?) but the reason for life itself!
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
I don’t think I share a whole lot of good news with my kids’ stuffed animal collection or the junk drawer in the kitchen ;) My mind is hardly focused on Jesus' love when I’m pining after the latest gadget I think i want or the perfect paint color for the new kitchen. These things are fun, but temporal, and should be far down the list of my priorities below God and family, not occupying the bulk of my time and thoughts.
As spring is a natural time to dust out the unwanted cobwebs, during the month of May I’d like to focus on “Making Room” in our homes, hearts, and minds. I will be running a series that will discuss ways in which we can reclaim the time and space currently leaking into various distractions in our lives. We will then aim to use the extra room in our lives to exercise our command to love God and love our neighbor, and our mission to share this love with others. This will involve some decluttering, yes, but we’ll go far beyond closets and junk drawers. Could it be that our physical “stuff” is just one of many distractions that keep us from devoting ourselves fully to God’s mission for us?
If you’d like to participate in this series, I will include little assignments each week. This week’s assignment is to reflect (and share, if you’d like!):
What are some distractions in your life you feel get in the way of living as God wants you to live?