Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Clutter, part 3

We only really have clutter because we have so much stuff. If you only have a couple of things, then it is easy to keep them orderly. Clutter is a problem of abundance, but we usually seem to have clutter because we are afraid of not having enough. Enough of what we need, enough of what we want, enough to project the image about ourselves that we want others to see. Fundamentally, clutter is really trying to tell us something about our faith in God.

It is uncomfortable to listen to. I know I don't always want to really think about the sheer amount of stuff I keep hold of. It's a control thing. (I am actually not that different from my always-need-to-be-in-control son. A humbling thought.) I say that I trust God to take care of me, but then I turn around and clutch and hoard stuff because I am afraid that He won't. It all comes down to fear. Again.

There is a slight tension in the Bible, though, between being wise and prepared and being foolish and hoarding. At what point does prepared cross the line to fearful and hoarding? I think about this a lot because I do like to be prepared. For me, I've decided that it comes down to a matter of attitude. First, if I have a lot of something, do I find myself thinking I need even more "just in case"? The inability to judge when enough is enough is the first sign that I am not thinking clearly about my stuff. Moving into that "just in case" place is a signal that I am not trusting that God will take care of things. It says I have moved out of the reasonable and into the lie of self-sufficiency. There is not enough stuff in the world that will make me completely self-sufficient and certainly not enough room to store it all.

Having too much stuff that we are unwilling or unable to get rid of is also a sign that we are trying to find our self worth outside of God. The minute I think I must be better or worth more simply because of what I own is the minute I have ignored who God says I am... His child, sinful, yet loved by the Creator of the Universe. A child of the One True King. Who needs to hoard stuff if this is fully lodged in your heart?

An exercise I've been doing with myself recently is to look at an item and ask myself if I would be able to give it away if someone else needed it. If I feel the familiar clutching feeling of panic at the thought of not having the item any longer, I need to think about why. What is it about this thing that has such a hold on me? Am I in danger of turning away sadly because I was asked to sell something and I couldn't do it? It is not wrong to have things, but it is wrong to hold onto them too tightly. We have things so that we can be generous. Generosity isn't clutching.

Our clutter can distract us from our focus on God. It can give us the illusion of control while being out of control. It can give us the illusion of wealth and freedom while causing us to spend money and be shackled to its upkeep. Clutter keeps us busy focusing on things that are not important.
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Clutter, part 1; Clutter, part 2

2 comments:

susan said...

This is such good stuff you are writing. Thank you.

T said...

Oh, this is so good to read right now. I just recently worked up the courage to say that I don't want fancy heirlooms and wish to part with those which I have already inherited.

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