Flight from Materialism
Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them. ~Peace Pilgrim
I tossed the last of four full trash bags of clothes out the front door, onto the porch – this week’s donation offering to local charities. Before starting the coffee, I had made my appointment for next week’s donation pick up. I’m serious about it this time.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how materialism can sneak in where you least expect it. I can’t tell you the last time I went clothes shopping for any of us, yet even I struggle with this one. It is when I look at stuffed dresser drawers and crammed closets that I realized it – we have a problem here. And, as with most problems, the clutter is just the symptom of a greater issue – a heart issue.
The generosity of friends is a beautiful thing, something I am so fortunate to have. But the human body can only wear one outfit at a time. If I do laundry daily, and each member of my family wears only one outfit a day (with a few more for toddlers and babies), how much do I really need? And what does it say about me if I hoard 5x the needs of my family, “just in case”?
“Look at the birds of the air. They neither toil nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than these?”
I profess to believe that God will supply all of our needs – but what does my lifestyle say? The exact opposite. It says “oh, you better save this for that just in case day that God takes the day off and you have to be in charge.” It says “If you don’t hold onto these clothes just in case you happen to have a baby of the same gender born the exact time of year, said baby will be naked.” It says “Owning a ton of stuff will make you free!” but the reality is that, when you own a houseful of stuff you don’t need? You spend way too much time in the care and keeping of things. It literally steals your life. It’s stealing my joy, quite frankly. Overflowing dressers and cabinets stuffed with more than we could possibly use. My peace is gone too – who can feel peaceful when every surface is a cluttered one?
Obviously we need some things. We need dishes and clothes appropriate for the weather and occasion. How much is something I’m struggling with. Do I need 3 can openers that don’t work? A table cloth we haven’t used since we moved here 7 years ago? I could swaddle 20 babies at once with the receiving blankets I own, yet only one lives here. Lately, I’m hoping to find that balance, the happy medium between too many senseless things and just enough to be sensible. 7 years in the same place can mean an accumulation that we can ignore – closets that house garments that haven’t been worn in years. I’ve never considered myself to be materialistic, but there is more to it than being a shopaholic. Materialism says “I need that!” when really? You don’t. Even I have things like that.
So I make a commitment to give away…and work at it a little bit each day. A drawer here, a cupboard there. I make charity donations a weekly appointment, just like taking the garbage out. In giving away something every week, I keep my own materialism in check – and find new ways to give I have never before imagined. The less I have, the more peace I feel. Tomorrow will take care of itself, and the God who has been faithful to supply all our needs will continue to be. In that, I can be sure.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.