17 January 2011

God and stuff.... SIMPLIFY

“Peace, like charity, begins at home.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

This week my focus is on creating a "peaceful environment at home."  As I started writing my blog, it became a little overwhelming just thinking about all of the tasks that I would need to accomplish.  I wasn't even sure where to begin. So, I decided that this is another area of my life that once again, will need to be dealt with by taking tiny steps!

Today I am writing about my “first step”... which is to “simplify.” To accomplish this task I will need to keep my eyes focused on God. The Bible tells us that we can either worship God or worship our “stuff.” So, the first thing I did was write out a few signs and hang them up for inspiration...

                    • Cut out the stuff that keeps me from God
                    • God wants me to reduce my idols
                    • Shrink = less stuff, more God

I knew that I would have to stay focused on the task of simplifying and not get side-tracked by spending time organizing, re-organizing or re-doing. After I have completed the first step,  I will be able to move on to dealing with organizing the big 3... clutter, commitments and chaos (next Monday’s blog).

And so, with praise music blaring in the background, I started the process.  I began by asking myself some really tough questions. Do I really need three of the same size frying pans? Am I really going to shrink down in size enough to ever be able to fit into that dress again? And if I do, will I really want to be seen wearing it in public? How many craft projects can one person possibly finish in a lifetime? Why am I storing half a dozen clay pots, when I hate gardening? And one of the hardest questions....  Am I ever going to re-read that book again?

Item by item, I began to make a dent in the volume of "stuff" I had collected throughout my lifetime. It goes without saying that simplifying a lifetime of acquisitions is not going to be completed in one day, but the process has begun.

One of the areas I have a difficult time sorting through are things that have a sentimental or nostalgic memory attached to them. So many times, the item is not being given the prominence it deserves, but I just can’t part with it. I asked myself, "Could it be just the feeling I am attached to, and not the item itself?"  I recently heard an excellent tip and want to pass it on.... if your precious family heirloom is collecting dust, or a trophy from high school is kept in a box only to be given a periodic glance, why not take a picture of the item and write a brief story about the memory that goes along with it. You can then place your memories in a photo album, scrapbook or keepsake box and give the actual item away to be appreciated by someone else.

You might be asking why we need to give up material things in order to choose God. Scripture provides much guidance on this question. Here are some verses that might be helpful: Matthew 6:19-21, 24, Luke 12:15, Matthew 16:26, 1 Timothy 6:10, 1 John 3:17, Ephesians 4:28, Acts 4:32-35, Matthew 19:21.

In reality, simplifying our lives has nothing to do with God wanting us to have less, but more about realizing the difference between our wants and our needs. Most of us can truthfully say that our basic needs for survival are being met. Too often what we consider as a need is actually a want... the difference is that our wants have nothing to do with survival. The truth about the difference can be found in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” You see, unfortunately, many times our wants become our “master.”   We find ourselves seeking fulfillment, a promise of betterment, prestige, sense of self-worth, popularity or just more of something. Our search and drive become our downfall because it leads us in a never-ending, unfulfilling circle... it becomes a “will to acquire.” As long as we focus on what we don’t have, we will never be satisfied with what we have. If we don’t know how much is enough, we will never appreciate the bounty we have been blessed with, or that fact that we have a surplus that could be shared with others.

I’ve just started reading a book called Unstuff: Making Room in your Life for Things that Really Matter, by Haley and Michael DiMarco. Here is a brief review of the book as posted by Tyndale House Publishers, “The DiMarcos take an uncomfortably close look at the cost of their love affair with stuff. They start by Unstuffing their house; getting rid of anything they don’t need by giving away, selling, or throwing out items that only add to their love for more. Then, kicking it up a notch, this family of three travels across the country, with nothing more than they can fit in a motor home... and discovers that the really important stuff goes with them.” The couple combines their nomadic experience with scripture-based advice, journaling and reflective questions, meant to prompt readers to refocus their lives.

Suddenly “simplifying” doesn’t seem so overwhelming! If you have chosen to join me, to begin to “cut, reduce and shrink”.... be sure to check back on Friday when I will offer some great ways to help others as you go through the process of “simplifying” your life.

Hope your week is filled with an abundance of God’s Peace....
Donna Weaver

“If there is to be any peace it will come through being, not having.”
– Henry Miller

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