I was in The Container Store a few weeks ago when I had a major "aha" moment regarding stuff. I was thinking about Reynosa, Mexico where I saw people living in tiny cardboard huts several years ago. They could have fit all of their possessions in one bag. Then I thought about the Africans I've been learning about in The Hole In Our Gospel. They have few posessions at all, spend their days walking miles just to get enough water for the day. Live on less than $2 a day. And if they had more money they'd likely spend it on prevention and a cure for AIDS. Not because it's the popular cause of the moment. But because it's what's killing their own communities.
I'm thinking all of these things as I walk up and down the aisles of The Container Store. These people have nothing. And here I am... in a store to buy stuff that can help me organize my other stuff. I bought three things, got in the car and promptly started crying like a baby. It just felt so wrong. I called Terry and was able to laugh at my outburst. But it was the final straw for me.
Everything I knew about money, giving, and the needy has been shaken up. God has been moving us in this direction for years now. Looking back, I can see the small, baby steps. He's been nudging us forward. Challenging us to look at our finances, our budget and weed stuff out. He's been calling us to give more. Yes, of time and resources. But also of money.
Last month we made the decision to move. In an effort to create more space in our budget for giving, we're downsizing to an apartment that's 2/3rds the size of our current house. We're losing a garage and a yard and an attic. So all of that stuff that piles up in these places has no where to go.
And our house has become a mass exodus of things on their way out. Plastic things, shiny things, handy things, useless things, pretty things, memorable things, "What is this and where did it come from?" things. And I've been doing a jig. I feel as good as if I were shedding pounds! Goodbye stuff! Adios materialism! Keeping up with them? Shoot, I dont' want to even resemble "the Joneses!"
I've been looking at my things differently. If it takes up my precious time to clean it, store it, maintain it, I want it out! I don't want to lose family time because I'm always taking care of my stuff. I don't want the funds for a mission trip or to feed a needy family to not be there because I had to have more clothes, more toys for the boys, or more dinners in restaurants.
The ideas and concepts from the Bible about giving and blessings-- those concepts that were repeated and reshaped in Radical, those ideas that were made poignantly clear in The Hole, are coming alive for the first time in my life.
I'm honored, humbled, and thrilled to be on the receiving end of this message from God. I pray that it's a permanent change and not a short-lived revival of sorts. Thank you for praying the same.