My goal of finding 40 bags of items to donate or recycle this Lent has sparked some spiritual pondering.
While sorting through many items that we have not looked at for several years, I began to reflect upon one issue in particular:
“How did all of this get into the house in the first place?”
- Some of the items were well-meant gifts from friends or family.
- Some we purchased because they were on sale for a great price, but in the end they didn’t fit or they weren’t the right color.
No matter how the items got here, they are now my possessions…and in a sinister sort of way, they also possess me.
They take my time, treasure and talent in order to maintain, sort, and store them. Even if I don’t particularly want all these items.
It’s easy to acquire, but much more difficult to divest.
Rich Young Men (and Women) Don’t Give Up Stuff Easily
I thought about the story from Luke 18 of a wealthy man who came to Jesus and asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Part of Jesus’ answer was to sell all that he had and give it to the poor. The man was greatly saddened by that answer.
I used to look down my nose at that man for not jumping at the chance to follow Jesus, but as I look at how much stuff has accumulated in the house, I think that maybe the clincher was thinking it’s just too much work to sell all this stuff. Maybe it wasn’t his love for all his possession that held him back…instead, maybe it was the burden of all the work it would take to liquidate it.
It certainly saddens me to look at all the bags of things I’ve sorted and determine how to get them out of the house.
Perhaps that is our problem as Christians today. We are reluctant to give our all to Christ because we are so overwhelmed with material items.
Materialism is Expensive for Everybody
I used to think that the label of “materialism” was aimed at rich people, but the label fits a vast number of us. Every item that passes through our hands, whether it’s a gold watch or a plastic fork, is “material” and takes up space.
It exists and therefore it needs to be managed.
Both the watch and the fork need attention. One is carefully stored in a safe, the other stored carelessly in a drawer. I can safely bet that everyone who is reading this blog has an excess amount of material goods filling purses, drawers, attics, garages, and storage facilities, that will eventually end up in landfills.
We have too many material goods, and inevitably with these goods comes a price. The price of dealing with it. Of wondering whether the items are worth anything or not.
A stack of newspapers that need to be recycled can take as much time to move as a stack of collector comic books to be sold on eBay.
The worth of the items are irrelevant when it comes to materialism, because things are things.
Stuff is stuff.
After I tackle my 40 bags, I will set a new goal to better emulate the spirit of Pope Francis to live simply. Use less. Want less. Give more. I want to be free of the materialism of this world so I can better serve Christ and follow His call on my life.