Many of us may quietly agree with Erma Bombeck who said, “My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?”
Although her words may be humorous, Christians are called to live out a life of truth, beauty and goodness in every realm we find ourselves especially our homes. Cleanliness and order are part of that calling. We are not gnostics who believe that all material things are sinful yet we can feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of our possessions.
Perhaps you find yourself (like me) resenting the time it takes to keep a house orderly when we have too much stuff but feeling guilty at how often we take bags of used possessions to the thrift store in an effort to minimize our material goods.
Where’s the balance between the two?
Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. ~Elise Boulding
I am sure that along with all of you I spend inordinate amounts of time looking for things, putting away things, taking care of things, buying things and getting rid of things!
As a Christian God tells me to be occupied with eternal things (like people) but things get in the way. It’s a constant balancing act!
How many of us say we will have people over for dinner when we can get our house cleaned up but we never get around to it because the house is disorderly? Or we can’t start schoolwork or Bible time because we can’t find certain needed items in the piles of clutter?
Our material world deeply affects our ability to bless and minister to others. It is important to think about!
The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn’t simple. ~Doris Janzen Longacre
Here are a few “truths” I have come to realize about our belongings.
1. Given the number of items I am dealing with on a daily basis I will sometimes make a mistake and get rid of something that is “precious” to someone (maybe even myself). I can immobilize myself with guilt and worry about getting rid of something or storing the wrong thing but it is simply impossible not to make a mistake in this area!
2. Given the number of items that most of us have, I may keep gramma’s dress or dad’s watch for many years and find that the next generation doesn’t care about keeping it. Then, I may be offended that they don’t value it the way I think it should be valued especially because I have spent so many hours of my life storing and taking care of that item!
We can’t predict what items will be treasured ..but we can extend God’s grace to each other!
3. We must hold material things “loosely” because stuff is simply stuff (Matthew warns us not to lay up treasure on earth where moth and rust will destroy it).
I hope my family will forgive me if I get rid of something they wanted to keep but I also hope they appreciate how many hours of my life I have spent sorting and caring for things when I would rather have been doing something else! Again, extending the grace of God to each other and keeping an eternal perspective helps.
4.When we allow things to mean too much to us we are in danger of allowing them to destroy relationships with others if they lose, damage or devalue it in some way. Is it worth it?
5.Adults who dwell on those things that they lost or someone else took or threw away without permission are adults who don’t interact with people well. They are like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings who whisper to themselves “My preciousssss” as they search and think about their personal possessions (bitterness and covetousness warps our souls).
Christian women can only prayerfully do our best to keep up with the onslaught of items with which we live.
While we strive to be good stewards of our possessions let’s keep track of our people by loving them, listening to them and remembering what is important to them!
Let’s create memories that go beyond shopping or talking about what we used to have or what we want to get someday.Instead, we can be grateful for the joy that is ours in our friends, family and our Savior.
These are the things I think about as I continue to take dominion one closet at a time.