Friday, August 10, 2007

Stuffed

Remember my post on the dumpster? Well, not long after I posted it, I received an email from a friend thanking me for the post and describing what an encouragement it had been to her as she was in the process of cleaning out and ridding her house of extraneous "stuff." I'm so glad she emailed me and I am grateful for her affirming words (and you know who you are...thank you, my friend!), but I had to email her back and tell her: that post was for me! My house is drowning in stuff! Drowning, I tell you! There are six of us living here, and I'm not naming names, but some of us are slobs and some of us are packrats, at least one of us is domestically challenged, and well, the "stuff" just seems to multiply. We are quite literally "stuffed."

Back when my husband and I were young(er), before children and a mortgage, we had some very dear friends who were homeowners. And not just homeowners, but homeowners with great taste and no fear of home improvement projects. Their house was adorable and I was so jealous sometimes I couldn't see straight. At the time, we were renting a hundred year old house with no central air and no dishwasher, and what was worse, blue carpet. When my friend got pregnant, she painted and stenciled and decorated the most darling nursery you can imagine. In comparison, our nursery consisted of a crib and a chair and was woefully lacking in special paint treatments and cutesy themes. I thought I would die of envy.

Even upon finally purchasing a home of our own, my dissatisfaction continued to grow. I maintained subscriptions to a couple of decorating magazines which only fed the frenzy. I watched HGTV; I pined after furniture and flooring and countertops. I would paint and purchase a few things here and there, but it was never enough. And can I just say, it's never enough?

A few years ago some friends of ours built a new home a couple of blocks over so we stopped by to see the house. It was beautiful. Everything I could've wanted and more. And not just beautiful but spotless. To say I was green with envy would be an understatement. I went home--to my dirty, disorganized home with its hodge podge decor--and cried.

Not really realizing what a hold materialism had on me--and I know it seems so obvious, but I really didn't see my desire for "stuff" for what it was--I had begun to pray in my personal time with the Lord along the lines of Ps. 27:4, "One thing I ask, this is what I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever, to gaze upon your beauty..." I was asking God to purify my desires, to make me a one thing woman, to be about Him and Him alone, my testimony to become, "earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Ps. 73:25)

And He is. It's been a process, a slow one. By no means have I arrived. Baby steps, to be sure. Materialism is a pervasive and sometimes subtle temptation. I let my magazine subscriptions go, and I really don't even miss them (much), but that Pottery Barn catalog still comes every so often and I sometimes--too often, really--find myself wishing and wanting. And yes, there are still those times I see others' beautifully decorated or spotlessly clean homes and my familar companions of discontent and dissatisfaction come creeping up on me.

I am grateful for our home. We are blessed. Thanks to my years of obsessive dissatisfaction, more than a few cans of paint, the generosity of our parents and grandparents, as well as the clearance shelves at Target and Wal Mart, we have a home that would have thrilled my earlier eat-up-with-envy self.

But the Holy Spirit is so faithful and I am now learning to see my stuff as just that: stuff. And far too much of it. Far, far too much. Let's just say the dumpster is overflowing.

While I most definitely still have stuff issues, my desire is to hold my stuff with an open hand. I fear being identified by my stuff and not by my Lord. As I said, it's a process. I'm learning. By the grace of God, I'm changing. Today I can tell you that it is my desire to break off the yoke of my stuff and know the freedom of chasing after one thing: Jesus Christ. He is more than enough.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
Ps. 73:25

6 comments:

  1. At least I know that I could invite you to my home and not feel like you would be judging me on what my house looked like. I swear you described my house to a 'T'. And I used to be the same way you used to be. I was envous and jealous, and just plain green. And like you, I have learned that stuff is just stuff and who cares? I have been a much happier Christ follower since then.

    Thank you for making me feel not so alone... I have gotten the junk out of my house... now it's in my garage. One step closer to OUT.

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  2. What I have in God is greater than what I don't have in life. :-) Saw that and thought of your blog today.

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  3. That last Psalm scripture is the banner on my cell phone..:))

    Love it!

    Lisa

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  4. Philipians 3:8> I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord

    Amen Sister!

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  5. So true that our stuff can become the yoke we are attached to. Praying with you for an open hand with my stuff...

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  6. Oh Lisa! I could have written this. The discontent with my home, my lack of housekeeping skills, my mess, my clutter. The feelings of jealousy at my friends beautifully decorated homes. Actually being in tears at what I felt was inadequacy. I struggle with this daily. I do believe that God has placed on me the charge of providing a peaceful home for my family, but I think I have taken this to far. My priorities are in the wrong places.
    Thank you for this post.

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