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Over "Stuffed"

Well, the book “7” by Jen Hatmaker has officially messed me up. Yes, I have been feeling bad about all the clothing and excess food we have (see last two blog posts), but this week finished me off. I read about our excess of possessions, and all our stuff. In her book, Jen wrote about committing to give away seven items out of her house every day for a month. She was worried she wouldn’t have anything left in her house, only to be mortified by how much she still had at the end of the month. I’m certain I would have the same outcome.

I made a list (modeling Jen’s list) of my stuff:

  • 3,500 plus square feet
  • 5 bedrooms
  • 2 ½ baths
  • 10 closets/pantries
  • 9 dressers
  • Basement with office and storage area
  • Huge yard
  • Oversized garage
  • Massive attic
  • A car and a van

All crammed full of stuff.

I don’t even know what we have anymore - we have so much.

I have started cleaning out my closets and pantries, as I mentioned I was planning to do in my last post. I sat and cried after spending an hour in our closets. What in the world?

And what makes me cry is this truth: I bought it all.

While the poor all over the world are begging for mercy and relief in their desperation, I am praying for more blessings. And for that I am ashamed.

“Decorum has no relevance for the mother who prostitutes to feed her children or the nine-year-old who eats trash to survive the streets. The “rules on how to behave” are meaningless for the sixty-six children infected with HIV in the last hour or the twenty-five thousand people who died today from starvation.” – Jen Hatmaker (1)

The gospel will die in the toxic soil of self. Paul wrote, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.” We want the life part without being united with Jesus in the death part, but that version of Christianity doesn’t exist-that is a false gospel, void of sacrifice. – “7” (2) (verses from Romans 6:3-5)

“Void of sacrifice.” That’s exactly right. How sad, since “void of sacrifice” is unbiblical. Jesus sacrificed ALL of the time. If I want to be a disciple of Jesus, I must be willing to sacrifice. Jesus loved and served the poor throughout Scripture. And He certainly didn’t hoard things for himself.

So after some serious repenting, I told God I wanted my family and I to do it differently from now on. I can feel bad and cry all day long, but if nothing ever changes and there is no action behind my repentance, crying and feeling bad doesn’t do much good.

And so I’m asking God to show me what He wants us to do with our stuff. What do we keep and what should we share with someone else?

And here’s the bigger question: After I get rid of a bunch of stuff, will I just replace it again with more stuff? I pray the answer here is no. What if we chose a different way, the unpopular way, the narrow gate?

Yes, giving away a bunch of stuff scares me. It makes me feel vulnerable and out of control (and I like to think I’m in control more often than I care to admit). But maybe that’s exactly where God wants me to be. If I always have everything I need (and then some), I don’t need to rely on God for anything.

Jen suggested that we would find the “elusive contentment” and “satisfaction” we are all looking for but can’t seem to find if we would just practice “radical generosity.”(3) I suspect she’s right.

So our family is diving into this whole getting rid of stuff thing, scared or not. I want to share with those who have nothing, who are praying and crying out for relief. What if we are the way Jesus wants to answer their prayers? Would you consider doing the same?

“Obedience isn’t a lack of fear. It’s just doing it scared.”(4)

Lord, move us to action. Make us discontent with all our stuff. Open our hands and show us how to love people as you love them. Forgive our pride and our over-indulgence. Give us courage to let go of the material and focus on the eternal. Don’t let us forget, Lord. Connect us with the people in our lives who need our stuff. Make their needs obvious to us. Amen.

Sources:
1. 7 – An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker; pg. 89
2. 7- pg. 91
3. 7- pg. 94
4. 7- pg. 86

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If you are an imperfect wife, mom, daughter, or friend, struggling to stay focused on God in the craziness and find joy in the heartache, then we have something in common. I am a recovering perfectionist and daughter of the King, slowly learning to fully trust the One who sees me just as I am, and is already pleased. I’m so glad you are here.

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