purge

one of the things among my seemingly never-ending-nesting- to-do-list... is to purge.  purge old clothes, purge things we don't use and purge anything else that doesn't need to be taking up space.
i think it’s safe to say that purging and organizing are regular parts of the american lifestyle, don’t you?   i mean, we have a season of garage sales, craiglist and i see cars unloading boxes or bags of  donations to goodwill almost all the time. i'm thankful for all of these things.  there’s a lot of good in them on both ends.  i completely enjoy the feeling that comes with a good deal as well as the feeling that comes with purging and getting rid of stuff.   organizing is a fabulous feeling as well and for me it seems to go hand-in-hand with my cycles of wanting to purge.  and among the clutter of our grocery store check-out aisles, we have fabulous magazines devoted to the topic of organization.  we have blogs and even people devoted to helping us to the task of organizing our living spaces and lives in this country.
and again, i'm truly thankful… thankful that things can be organized, thankful for people who are particularly good at it and thankful for the feeling of order and peace it gives.
however, i've been thinking a lot recently…thinking about how regular these activities of purging and organizing are in our culture and country... thinking about how much of it comes from having so much stuff.
if i didn't buy so many things, i wouldn't have to keep getting rid of them.  if i don’t mind getting rid of them, did i ever need them in the first place?  if i didn't think i needed so many things, and so many things of "my own" to use, i wouldn't have so much to organize.  these thoughts have all been giving me a slightly sick feeling.
as americans, we are fat with everything, it seems. most of us have so much that we think we have to buy bigger houses, places with more storage and more, more, more, until it makes us crazy. then we purge and eventually, fill up again. do people in less wealthy countries talk endlessly about new and better ways of organizing their homes and how stressed out they are by how much they have? it seems absolutely ridiculous how often i think about things like purging and organizing living spaces in light of how most of the rest of the world lives.   and more importantly, how Jesus has told us to live if we follow him –no matter what country, culture or economic background we come from.
it's easy for me to ponder something like this and start comparing...well, i don't have as much stuff as this other person i know...my house isn't that big considering, or, i don’t even own a house...i don't make that much...blah, blah, blah.  but for most of us who live in america, it takes effort and intentionality to live differently amongst having so much abundance -we are bombarded with the lie that more stuff will bring us more life and then that organizing it well will solve all of the problems the “more stuff” brings. 
it really is a heart and belief issue,  isn't it? it doesn't matter as much your income level - it matters what you believe about what the “more stuff” will do to transform your life. i know people who don't "make much" but just might believe they need that cute (on clearance, of course) headband in the accessory aisle at target.  it's not like buying a new car -or is it? or others who believe that if it’s homemade or second-hand it's somehow better or less consumptive.  but, stuff is stuff.  it can be material stuff, healthy and edible stuff, more education stuff, an incredibly good deal type of stuff, entertainment stuff:  you name it.  comparison doesn’t work well when the bottom line lies within the state of our hearts.
i'm still planning on purging and i feel the responsibility to organize as well as i can to prepare for timothy's arrival into our family.  i think a good purge will do all of us some good.  but i'd like to know how not to get on this train (wreck) of a cycle of acquiring stuff and then getting rid of stuff.  i want to learn how to intentionally not fill my life and heart with stuff.   it's heavy, burdensome, tempts me to insanity and not only does it steal time and keep me from doing more important things (like caring for my family, engaging in authentic community, loving people and serving God), it doesn't last beyond this life.
i’d love to hear how any of you battle this plague of our culture, if you do. how have you arranged your lifestyle to keep from acquiring more and more stuff? how do you live simply in a culture that is anything but? how do you teach your children to not buy into this lie that more stuff is necessary and will make things better? how do you live differently?

Looking at it one way, you could say, "Anything goes. Because of God's immense generosity and grace, we don't have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster." But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. -1 corinthians 10:23 (the message)
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