In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content– whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. Philippians 4:12
This post has been rattling around my brain for a long time now. Talks about the “fiscal cliff,” trying to choose Christmas presents, finding homes for the new Christmas presents, and New Year’s resolution planning have brought it to the front of my mind again.
In my First World Problem post, I touched on the problem that Mr X and I have trying to store all our stuff in our 4 bedroom, 3 bath house. You probably have a similar problem, no matter the size of your house. We tend to accumulate more and more stuff until it’s packed so tight that nothing else will fit.
How much is enough?
How many pairs of shoes do I need? Costume jewelry earrings and necklaces? Blouses, dresses, and pants? Sets of dishes? Pots and pans? Christmas decorations?
Around Christmas and birthdays, my mother-in-law (Granny) sometimes opens up her cabinet doors and lets us pick some glassware treasures. This year I got some pieces of pineapple floral depression glass. The creamer and sugar belonged to one of Mr X’s great grandmothers and the bowl to another. I have several dishes that belonged to his ancestors (mine too) and I treasure them. But what will my great grandchildren have from me? Of all the stuff I have, what is special enough to become heirlooms? When you have so much, all of it can lose its special-ness. I’ve been to so many estate sales and wondered how the family could let some of the things go, but there’s just not room to keep everything. So they keep the things that are inherently valuable and expensive, or else the things that meant a lot to their loved one, or evokes some memory of that person.
I feel the need to begin to accumulate less and treasure more.
I never knew any of my grandparents, but from what I’ve read, I’ve gathered that back in the day, ladies oftentimes had *A* church dress and *A* pair of dress shoes. They were probably relatively more expensive than the ones I buy on sale at Cato or Dress Barn, and great care was taken to make them last.
Does having all that stuff make us any happier than our grandmothers were? And what price are we paying for it? Are you unable to do money-saving activities because your job saps too much of your time and energy? I am. Do you feed your family fast food meals because you are too tired to shop and cook? I do. Are we working so we can eat out, pay for child care, and pay for our work clothes?
What would happen to our nation’s economy if we bought only as much as we needed? I’m not saying don’t buy anything but necessities; I’m stressing the QUANTITY, not whether something is a want or a need. Could we be satisfied with, say, 10 pairs of shoes instead of 20? Five pairs of really good, well-fitting slacks, and a couple of pairs of jeans instead of twice that? Instead of buying (and storing) books and movies, rent or borrow them? If we find something we like better than what we have, and decide it’s worth the cost, fine! Buy it, but then give the replaced item away. I think our need to accumulate new and reluctance to let go of the old is a symptom of some sort of spiritual problem, maybe a lack of trust that God will take care of us.
What if we decided that we have enough? Less would need to be produced and sold. People would require less money for consumable purchases, freeing up money for savings, giving, or building. We could pay off our debts. Maybe we could quit our jobs and stay home!
What a lifestyle change!
- I will have to reign in my tendency to buy something that’s on sale and only “okay,” and instead buy only what I love.
- Shopping can’t be a pastime, because I know when I go I’ll see something that I never knew I needed till I saw it!
- I’ll have to recognize advertising for what it is, and pay attention to the items advertised (is this something I’ve been looking for?) instead of the message behind it- I’m not good enough, happy enough, pretty enough without this item, but once I get it– and I DESERVE it!– my every need will be met.
I’m in the process of cleaning out closets, drawers and cabinets. A local lady is sponsoring a garage sale to benefit the families of the Sandy Hook shooting, and I’m donating. And then I’m going to be very selective about what else I bring in my world.
What the Bible says about the accumulation of stuff and finding “enough”:
Those who love money [possessions] will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! Ecclesiastes 5:10
If you find honey, eat just enough–too much of it, and you will vomit. Proverbs 25:16 [I realize this is not about material goods but I think the concept probably applies-- be satisfied with enough.]
Better to have little, with fear for the LORD, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. Proverbs 15:16