Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

A First World Problem

on August 21, 2012

Have you watched “Hoarders?”

We make jokes about watching it so we won’t feel so bad about our houses. But a couple of times a year, usually before school starts and after Christmas,  I start devoting a lot of brain space, if not time and energy,  to “organizing” in my house.

So… is this better?

I always want to start with the closets and work outward, but my closets are crammed full. The problem is that I have too much stuff. For heaven’s sake, we have a 4-bedroom house with 2 people living here! If I don’t have storage for everything, there is just… too much stuff.

And then I begin thinking that it’s not just a “stuff” problem; as with many things, I think it has spiritual implications. Is it godly (forget “fair” or “right”) for us to have so much when others have so much less? Is our “stuff” getting in the way of our relationships with God or people, or other important things?

So what about this? Would God rather I live like this? (I hope not. I hate this look.)

So, in typical Auntie Em fashion, I begin gnawing on the bone of this issue, reading blogs, talking to people, thinking, pondering…

The Minimalists say that “Organization is often well-planned hoarding.”

In Getting Things Done, David Allen advises people not to fill their file cabinets more than 3/4 full, for ease of access, and I think, “What a great idea for closets and pantries too!”

Then there’s  Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience, writing a heart-wrenching post about her (our) comparative wealth, put into perspective after a visit to Haiti: “The 1 Thing You Really have to Know About Your Family.”

Sunshine introduced me to the term “first-world problem.” If it’s new to you, it’s the opposite of third-world problems, like malnutrition, inadequate sanitation, no homes. Think Haiti after the earthquake.

I, on the other hand, happened to be born in America to a stable middle-class family; with intelligence and musical skill; with good schools and a nearby state university. My problems are being overweight. Having too much stuff, so that I can’t get to or find what I’m looking for. My internet is running too slow. I don’t have any cell service. My pink sweater is the wrong shade. I can’t fit all my coats in the closet.

Ugh. It’s exhausting. I don’t think God wants us feeling guilty because we are in a situation or place we had no control of, or because we have been able to live comfortably. What to do? (Tweet this.)

I don’t know.

But in the meantime, this is what I do know to do:

  • Listen for any specific direction God gives me, and keep aware of opportunities to give and to help.
  • Continue giving regularly to my church, and to charities and individuals when I feel led.
  • Don’t waste what I have.
  • Clean out my closets, drawers, and pantries, and give away what I don’t use anymore. (Note: My MIL, being a child of the Depression,has a different perspective, thinking “Don’t waste it” means keep it.)
  • Think before I buy something. (Do I need this? Do I have something that would do as well? Will I still like it when I get it home, on MY body?)

There are lots of churches and organizations having back-to-school clothing giveaways. Go clean out your closet and do some good in your community!

February 18, 2013– I saw this 1 minute video “First World Problems read by Third World People” last weekend. It really put this in perspective!

7 responses to “A First World Problem

  1. Gail says:

    Great thoughts. Yes, we are so fortunate and our problems have an affluent air to them. I’ve done enough mission trips to make this a reality, but it’s so easy to slip back into the wrong mindset. Thanks for this reminder. Gail (

  2. I’ve been thinking on this as well. Managing abundance- this is our job and our difficulty here in this very blessed place. How to do it and do it well? It’s not about hoarding in an organized way, and it’s also not about getting rid of everything and just eating rice for every meal either (though I am tempted to do this for a week to make my kids more grateful, ha).

    Managing abundance- what a burden! I say that sarcastically, and yet it is a burden as it’s hard to sort it all out, for myself, not to mention to teach my children!

    I agree with you- prayer, and keeping an eye out for ways to give and bless others with our abundance. This is a good place to start.
    Glad I hopped over today!

  3. What a great post, Em! Last summer I read “100 Thing Challenge” and then followed it with “Radical” and those two guys nearly did me in. (Here’s an interesting website:

    I keep reminding myself that God has me here for a purpose, but like Daniel and the captives in Babylon, I don’t have to submerge myself in it. It’s a delicate balance to be sure.

    Linking up from NOBH,

  4. […] 3. Granny’s Cornbread                                  4.  A First-World Problem […]

  5. […] 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, […]

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