Ike and I are moving tomorrow.
Our new place is close by and it makes more sense financially, a thought that continually encourages me as I engage in one of the activities I hate most. I seriously hate moving! I understand why some people say that moving can be as traumatic as the death of a loved one. It is stressful!
One of the things that is most frustrating about moving is that you never realize how much STUFF you own until you have to pack it. We’re in that stage where we keep finding trinkets and knick-knacks that need to be packed away. Between vacation kitsch and stocking-stuffers, we have somehow accumulated a seemingly endless supply of tiny bowls and figurines. I really did not realize we owned this much.
Because of the madness that is our current apartment I don’t have time to write much today, but I thought I would share the one thought that keeps returning to my mind as we have sorted through our belongings:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
– Matthew 6:19-20
In the past, I have relegated these verses to the realm of the heart. As I understood it, I have the freedom to own what I want as long as I’m not too attached to it. As long as my true treasure is of a heavenly nature, I can still hold onto my earthly treasures as well. I can have my cake and eat it too, so to speak.
But as I survey my possessions and look at all the money they consumed and the space they now occupy, I can’t help but wonder if my previous interpretation is a bit of a cop-out. How we spend our money does say a lot about our hearts. What we own is an indication of our priorities.
I say this because the kind of prioritization that Jesus describes is one that requires discipline at multiple levels, not simply the level of the heart. This discipline is a holistic one that begins not with ownership but the decision to own. The more we gather, the more we shop, buy, and hoard, the more we tempt our hearts to latch onto earthly things. Knowing our hearts’ predisposition to materialism, and choosing to make that purchase anyway, is a spiritual statement of sorts.
Simplicity is a discipline that begins prior to the owning of possessions. It is a disposition towards God, a decision to guard our spiritual lives by guarding what comes into our lives. As I look upon the many possessions that fill space in my apartment and closet, useless items that occupy my life and my heart, it’s clear that I need to work on this discipline more.
That is not to say that possessions are inherently evil. They are not. I don’t believe in asceticism for its own sake. Even so, I have not exercised the kind of discipline that would guard my heart against the errant priorities of worldliness. I have not done a good job of putting practices and mindsets into place that would protect me from storing my greatest treasures on earth. In my apartment’s current state, I can see that plain as day.
Maybe the next time I move I’ll be able to report back differently. I really hope so! Til then, please pray for me tomorrow on our moving day. I need it!
Good luck moving! I’m still scarred by our last experience– major lack of preparation. It will never happen like that again if I have anything to say about it.
Sharon, I hope your moving day turns out to be a happy one even if it is a lot of hard work. And I really like how you put this: “Knowing our hearts’ predisposition to materialism, and choosing to make that purchase anyway, is a spiritual statement of sorts.” Ain’t that the truth! Especially for those who have disposable income (which is almost everyone in the U.S.), what we spend money on is a strong indication of what we value isn’t it?
Have you heard the old Shaker song “Simple Gifts”? I think it captures well the desire to rid ourselves of anything that interferes with our relationship with God:
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
P.S. One good thing about moving is that it may give you endless column fodder. I’m looking forward to reading the stories that will comeout of this!
Praying for you! Good luck with the move! ~Kelly
So how did it go? Inquiring minds want to know!
Good luck with the move.
This was a really enjoyable post, providing food for thought. I don’t buy much for myself but buy a lot for my 2 year old son. After cleaning the car and his room I found 10 pairs of shoes, that is crazy!It has reminded me to buy what’s necessary and not waste money.
It went fine, as far as moves go! We’re still unpacking (we own WAY too many books) but I have thus far gotten rid of about a quarter of my wardrobe, so that’s a plus! I really don’t want to have to move this much stuff again!
In my job as a professional organizer I see where people place their identity in the items they own. It is scary to see that our possession can easily begin to own us. If only we would place as much value on others and our relationship with Christ as we do on our earthly items – I think we’d be amazed at the freedom, clarity, peace and simplicity we would experience.