"Where have I substituted the American Dream for God's Kingdom?"--Jen Hatmaker, "7"
A little over two years ago my husband and I packed our belongings and moved into our cozy "new" home. At 1200 sq feet, it looks and sounds smaller than most homes in our area. But looks can be deceiving and as you step inside you'll quickly notice there is more space than what that curb appeal first led you to believe. There are three bedrooms (4 if you count the finished attic space that we've filled with our junk in the past two years). There is a garage that isn't big enough to accomodate a car, but it holds our oversized chest freezer & ride-on toys quite nicely. There is no basement, no over-sized laundry room, no walk-in closets that should be bedrooms themselves & no "extra" storage. The grass is dead because we're in a drought and I refuse to spend money watering my lawn when I'm being asked to conserve water.
Two years ago there was PLENTY of space for us. When all the boxes had landed we couldn't believe how much space we had! (You should know we were moving from an 800 sq foot apartment at the time and had just one child). Things feel a little cramped these days with the addition of another child and enough children's clothes to outfit an entire village filling up our attic. This leads me to wanting more. more storage. more bedrooms. more space. And as a result, more stuff to fill all that extra space.
It is a vicious cycle. It's gross.
What happens when I have more? If the past serves as a good indicator...I'll probably just want more.
I live in a country that tells me by certain standards (and federal poverty guidelines) that I am "somewhat poor". The sickening part is that I actually believe it. And in the meantime I can load my children into our SUV and drive to the doctor where they will receive the proper immunizations. We'll head to the store where I will be able to purchase food to cook for dinner that night. We will enter our home that is cooled to a nice 72 degrees and has indoor plumbing. We'll drink water straight from the tap because it's safe & bathe our children in warm water. We'll go to our individual bedrooms at the end of the night after watching TV and we'll sleep in wonderfully comfortable beds....with the only real danger of going through life so unaware that we don't recognize just how rich we are.
We've been slowly taking steps in our lives to make intentional changes, to take intentional steps on how we live & how we love others. Last weekend we loaded up 7 trashbags full of our adult-sized clothes and dropped them off at a local thrift store. This was HUGE....and yet it barefully scratched the surface at the same time. We're in the process of "making room" in our home for some things I'll share later (no, not pregnant!) & there is no choice but to reduce. After appreciating the fact that our home had a master bedroom with two closets for the past two years, we simply decided we didn't need our own closets full of clothing & shoes, most of which probably were not worn that often anyway. So we reduced. we combined.
Right now we live in this "in-between." We want so desperately to rebel against these lies we are told day after day & engage in a radically different lifestyle. One that is content to live in a 1200 sq ft home & still fill it up with the wonderful sound of children. We want to reduce, reduce, reduce so that there is actually room in our heart and in our home for the Gospel to truly take hold of our hearts and really bear fruit in our lives.
Purging our closets is symbolic to the deeper purging we must do in our hearts on a continual basis. What thoughts, attitudes, actions or behaviors are not of the Lord? Purge them. Where am I substituting my attitude of "I'm owed this for all my___________" Purge it. Where have I allowed anger and resentment to clog the communication lines in a relationship? Where has discontentment robbed me from recognizing what God desires for me right now? Where am I allowing selfishness to keep me from loving others the way Jesus instructed us to do? Where am I allowing my own thoughts to water down the message and instruction of the Gospel? Where have I become so blind in my "first world problems", that I fail to see real problems all around me? Purge, purge, purge it all.....
"I have simply said, "Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk & more of You and Your Kingdom." I will reduce, so He can increase."-Jen Hatmaker, "7"
*****side note---I wrote this post last weekend and continued to digest all of these thoughts. There's a balancing act we all must carefully walk & figure out when less is more....and when it truly is just not enough. We are making some radical changes in our lives in which having a larger space/more bedrooms/etc could be of great value---and not just for pure consumption. There are other times when I want that "new, bigger, more expensive" item....just because. I want to recognize need vs want and teach my kids the proper relationship as well. I want to model behavior that teaches responsible spending---and that just because I can afford something, doesn't mean I need it. It's a tight-rope walk that I haven't even come close to mastering. I'm not even sure most days I know HOW. But I'm open to the discussion of it---to the continual analysis of my heart in relationship to material items, my home & my bank acocunt. All I can pray for is a teachable spirit.*****