Lately, my head has been full of thoughts about stuff. I walk around my home and everywhere I see excess... Excess clothes, excess toys, excess papers, excess... stuff. And I just think it's not right. (I may have already lost some of you... I should probably apologize... but this is just the beginning of what I am thinking today.)
So, I am reading this book. My kids literally begged me not to read it and I was a bit fearful myself. The book is called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and is available on Amazon.
Part of the premise of 7 is that we have too much and that muchness (yes, I am making up words now) just may be something we need to release. Maybe in releasing, we will find space that God will use to do what He will do. And... maybe the simplification will allow us to do things we have yet to consider as possibilities in our busy and over-flowing lives.
Still with me?
Having no idea if this book might be on to something, some friends and I decided to work through it together. The first month we chose to tackle is "Possessions". In our home, we have a serious issue with clothes. My middle boys have tons, my oldest and youngest have far less. The current clothing is not the issue at all. The issue is, we part with very little. Some of this makes good sense. When Noah was born, we strongly believed we would have more kids. So, we sorted his outgrown clothes to be used again. And then Benjamin wore them... and whatever was left in good condition, Josiah wore... and then... we packed them up and stored them. I have no idea why. I do know that I have some tie to them... some emotional response to the small, cute outfits that are part of my boys' lives.
But, we don't need them anymore. And yet they are still here.
So, we decided to tackle our kid clothes issue and sorted out clothes by size and gender for the better part of a weekend. I did not know what would come of that, but I knew that I could do nothing with any of it if it was packed away in the garage. In my head, I thought, "Okay God, we are organizing this mess. We have been blessed and we want to let that blessing bless someone else." But, I had no idea what would really come of it.
Then a friend mentioned that they needed clothes for their children. Then someone mentioned that they knew someone else in need. Then another person came forward and another and all of sudden, these clothes have a place to go.
God has His hands on this, you see?
But what about all this other stuff? A garage with more stuff than space and toys for little kids and maternity clothes and a toddler bed, and... Did I mention I have too much stuff?
Last week, I heard about someone who needs, like REALLY needs, a whole big bunch of stuff. I am thrilled and a little embarrassed to say that I have many things on this sweet person's list stored up in my garage, doing nothing but taking up space. But, they won't be there long!
As Mark and I talked about this, we came to understand that our navel-gazing has caused us to cling to blessings that could bless others right now. Today. And honestly, our insistence on holding on makes some sense. We have been in a tough place for five and a half years and our budget has no hope of balancing. Finding ourselves in this struggle made us fearful at times. Stuck in the housing crash, we have lived with two houses for way too long and what we want is to survive. What we want is to provide for our children and just have enough and so we let that feeling lead us to hang on to whatever we have... even if we no longer needed that thing. It was hard to think about helping to dig others out of a hole when we still felt stuck in our own. So we saved our things for some future (and imaginary) garage sale that would likely provide us little cash when then things we were hoarding could be huge blessings to others.
I don't like this place. I don't like to choose based on fear or to save things to sell. I love to think about how God's kingdom is alive and working today. I love to look for ways to be used by God to do what He will do. I don't want to be fearful and I don't want to cling to stuff. Yes, this season has been hard for us but the truth is we are still here. How dare I focus on my human fears when I have been blessed time and time again?
It's time to let it go. Time to release the stuff. Time to open my heart and my mind and my garage door to those who need today. If I know what it's like to be stuck and afraid, shouldn't I be willing to help others who are there?
So, this is the beginning of what has been in my head. Just the beginning. And I don't know where it all leads but I do believe that we will learn. And I believe that when I trust God with the things He has entrusted to me, He will use what was always His to do what He will do.
So later this week, I will continue this thought. For now, I would love it if you would read this passage and see what it does for you. Because I think it has something to say to us and I think it speaks about what the church should be like. Which is kind of scary and kind of exciting to dream about a little bit. This passage speaks to the way the early church functioned... and it shows me I have much to learn.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Blessings on your day.