Friday, May 24, 2013

Flight from Materialism

Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens.  If you have them, you have to take care of them.

~Peace Pilgrim

I tossed the last of four full trash bags of clothes out the front door, onto the porch -  this week's donation offering to local charities. Before starting the coffee, I had made my appointment for next week's donation pick up.  I'm serious about it this time.

It's funny, isn't it, how materialism can sneak in where you least expect it.  I can't tell you the last time I went clothes shopping for any of us, yet even I struggle with this one.  It is when I look at stuffed dresser drawers and crammed closets that I realized it - we have a problem here.  And, as with most problems, the clutter is just the symptom of a greater issue - a heart issue.

The generosity of friends is a beautiful thing, something I am so fortunate to have.  But the human body can only wear one outfit at a time.  If I do laundry daily, and each member of my family wears only one outfit a day (with a few more for toddlers and babies), how much do I really need?  And what does it say about me if I hoard 5x the needs of my family, "just in case"?

"Look at the birds of the air.  They neither toil nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than these?"
Matthew 6:26

I profess to believe that God will supply all of our needs - but what does my lifestyle say?  The exact opposite.  It says "oh, you better save this for that just in case day that God takes the day off and you have to be in charge."  It says "If you don't hold onto these clothes just in case you happen to have a baby of the same gender born the exact time of year, said baby will be naked."  It says "Owning a ton of stuff will make you free!" but the reality is that, when you own a houseful of stuff you don't need?  You spend way too much time in the care and keeping of things.  It literally steals your life.  It's stealing my joy, quite frankly.  Overflowing dressers and cabinets stuffed with more than we could possibly use.  My peace is gone too - who can feel peaceful when every surface is a cluttered one?

Obviously we need some things.  We need dishes and clothes appropriate for the weather and occasion.  How much is something I'm struggling with.  Do I need 3 can openers that don't work?  A table cloth we haven't used since we moved here 7 years ago?  I could swaddle 20 babies at once with the receiving blankets I own, yet only one lives here.  Lately, I'm hoping to find that balance, the happy medium between too many senseless things and just enough to be sensible.  7 years in the same place can mean an accumulation that we can ignore - closets that house garments that haven't been worn in years.  I've never considered myself to be materialistic, but there is more to it than being a shopaholic.  Materialism says "I need that!" when really?  You don't.  Even I have things like that.

So I make a commitment to give away...and work at it a little bit each day.  A drawer here, a cupboard there.  I make charity donations a weekly appointment, just like taking the garbage out.  In giving away something every week, I keep my own materialism in check - and find new ways to give I have never before imagined.  The less I have, the more peace I feel.  Tomorrow will take care of itself, and the God who has been faithful to supply all our needs will continue to be.  In that, I can be sure.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. 
Matthew 6:34

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to future posts.  Thank you.


  1. This is a constant struggle for me too! Oh the clutter, the clothes, little random toys we accumulate... I know we can pare down and I am constantly throwing out or donating stuff, but especially when it comes to clothes, I struggle with how much to keep, what do we really need? And when am I crossing the line into legalism rather relaxing and just enjoying God's good gifts for us? What is the balance between the possessions stealing my joy and being content with just enough?
    I love this verse in Proverbs, it helps me get a handle and is a good prayer for discernment in these things: "Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say "Who is the Lord?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God." Prov 30:7-9

  2. What a great verse! Yes, there is a happy medium, somewhere in the middle of it all. Trying to find it myself!

  3. Yes! I've been thinking about this a lot lately. The constant clutter is draining. Especially when it comes to kids' toys...ugh. But our stuff too. Having less is truly freeing.

  4. I just took about 10 paper bags to Goodwill this week. It's so nice to clear some things out. I read somewhere this week a little phrase that made a huge difference in my sorting..."is it stressing or is it a blessing?" I asked myself over and over while I was sorting and it really helped me to choose to get rid of some things I may have held onto...those games with the thousands of little pieces that never get played with, only dumped out by the little ones...stressing. Gone. Occasionally, that doesn't work. Legos stress me out, but they are also a favorite around here. In that case, I need to do some lego clean-up bootcamp. Overall though, it's a good question to ask. Happy sorting!

  5. Cleaning out is a constant in our home, we just don't have room to keep things we don't need or use. And it always feels good to get rid of things that add clutter to our home.

  6. What a great post. This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately, and now you inspired me to do something about it :) I'll begin with all maternity clothes I don't need anymore.

  7. I have a hard time with getting rid of things that are "still good." Nevermind that I haven't used them in YEARS, if they're still in a condition I might use them, I don't get rid of them. I've been trying to work on that using FlyLady's idea of those things needing to go "bless someone else."

  8. I was struggling with this as well, especially when it came to getting clothes for my kids. I was keeping everything in good condition, but then realized no child need 14 pair of jeans! It's hard to decide what to keep and what to give away when everything is in great condition...but it really is true that your stuff starts owning you when you have too much.


Thank you so much for stopping by! I love hearing from you! While you're here, don't forget to click "subscribe"!