Cleaning Out

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She sprawled out on the bed like a super model, sighed that she was so tired of cleaning out her room, and asked when we’d finally be finished. I lifted my head up from the pile of T-shirts covering the floor and shot her a “what in the world” expression, followed by knowing laughter from both sides. Because, hello, she was clearly doing absolutely nothing, and I was clearly doing absolutely everything.

If anyone should be tired, it should be me.

My photography reflex abandoned me sometime early this summer, otherwise I would have snapped a lyrical shot of the piles of clothes lying everywhere, while her sweet body lay right in the middle.

Instead, I loaded trash bag after trash bag with outgrown sizes, and like a cherry on top cleaned out the linen closet as well.

Basically, no one can walk into my garage without tripping right now. I’ll be transferring a mini-van load of what-nots to the piles at the thrift store, leaving more sorting and arranging for someone else.

And still, even after removing so much stuff from my home, all I see right in front of me is stuff. Why did I have to wash 14 loads of laundry this weekend? Why do I have bag after bag of goodwill donations staring at me, and why isn’t it making a dent?

Why is my freezer loaded with food and I have nothing to eat for dinner? Why do I have a closet full of lovelies, a shoe for every occasion, a hamper full of clothes, and nothing to wear?

The absurdity of those questions is not lost on me. But it’s so American, right?

It’s not just a purging I’m feeling right now. I’ve purged over and over again every single year, but my home always re-inflates. The purge never lasts.

Really, today it’s a sickening. Like I’ve eaten so much chocolate sundae that my tummy aches.

Is it a lie I’ve come to believe as a truth? Is it a culture that demands we traipse after newness, the latest and greatest, updates, more, more, more? Shiny is better? More is Less? Even vintage is new?

There are dollar stores everywhere, thrift stores, garage sales, we’re all just managing our stuff and being marketed with more stuff. Pinterest makes it all so enticing and pretty, you can’t help but want to DIY more stuff.

I justify my more stuff mentality by never buying a single thing full price, searching out the sales and clearance racks, investigating estate and garage sales. It’s sort of a badge I wear sometimes, that the price of my “stuff” was so cheap. Like that makes it any less “stuffy” and any less bordering on idolatry.

I tremble to think it’s even worse than the stuff itself, that it’s actually a heart thing, a mind thing. I hate throwing the word idolatry around, even in the quiet of my own brain, because well, that’s just taking it too far, getting just a tad bit too personal.

As my big bro used to say, “I want what I want when I want it.”

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But could it be? Could it be idolatry for me and my heart?

The answer is yes. You can’t serve two masters, God’s Word is clear. I can’t serve the Lord and also attempt to be satisfied and enriched by things money can buy, even if I got an amazing deal on it. I can’t try to understand God’s grace in my life and seek to know it, while at the same time drinking materialism like a drug, allowing it to thrill my soul the way God is meant to thrill it.

And I certainly can’t open my eyes to the needs around me when I’m gazing upon my own insatiable desires for more.

I feel like I’m so done. So done seeking after earthly treasures when my biggest, best treasure is Jesus Christ Himself. The life He offers more abundantly has nothing to do with things and stuff, it’s a richness of spirit. It’s the joy of serving others. It’s He Himself. And I only understand it a teeny tiny bit.

The problem lies in the reality that things must be purchased, kids need new clothes and new shoes. The dog keeps grabbing my shirts and ripping tiny holes in them. Inevitably, I’ll never finish purging because this weary world and all within it is fading, fading, fading. What once was a beautiful dress, perfect for picture day, will soon grow too short and will make the cut.

Forever we will be in the cycle of old and new, old and new, because it testifies to the truth that everything except for the Word of God will fade away like the grass, and whither, and die.

No one can escape this truth. No one.

Contentment can’t and won’t be found in the stuff of this world, the stuff that piles up and brings temporary joy but fades before we blink.

And yet, I know that without a doubt, I will come to desire this insatiable urge again. This feeling of being so sick and tired and done with materialism might not last long, and before I know it I might get sucked back into the vicious cycle.

With school approaching, the danger is even nearer. When I walk onto campus and know that women in my community dress to impress, I’ll feel the pull. I know I will.

It’s a humble place to be, to see your own weakness and to know the challenges ahead.

Granted, I’m not going to start dressing in rags, don’t freak out or anything. That’s truly not my point. It’s not my style or personality, it’s not even exactly about what I wear. It’s about my heart desires and how I’m enriching them. And I know it will never look perfect or get completely fixed. I will buy more things, wear new stuff, throw out more bags of slightly used stuff. This is life.

I’m battling stuff around here, and battling a heart that has tried at times and failed, to seek after both God and stuff, when only one will work.

There’s no formula, it’s about growth. No amount of cleaning out my home will change my desires. I just want to be satisfied with less–less food, less stuff, less more-more-more, and grow to understand more what it means to be satisfied in Christ alone.

Do you feel like you’re a stuff manager? Do you ever feel like your caught in this trap the world has laid for us?

You want to read an amazing book on this very subject? Check out

Unstuffed, by Ruth Soukup. God was already doing a work on my heart when I ‘by chance’ grabbed this book and took it to the beach for a read.

 

 

 

This book was a great start to rethinking the stuff problem. But I just finished reading another book that sort of ripped off the bandaid in a genuinely raw and open way, I can’t wait to share it with you in the coming weeks.

Oh and hey! I’m gonna try a giveaway for my email subscribers in about two weeks. So if you’re up for free stuff (like books, hint hint) make sure to subscribe so you can jump in the pot and win something.

*affiliate links that cost you nothing and earn me pennies.

 

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