As we enter this season of gratitude (and prepare for a season that often clutters our lives in every way possible), this post from the archives seemed like a relevant message to revisit. Enjoy!
This year I set aside time to reorganize our life at home. We needed to get rid of what we didn’t need, pretty up some spaces that felt neglected or underused, and create a pleasant place for our family to recharge.
So often we feel the need to simplify or pare down when stuff is taking over our life.
Stuff doesn’t matter.
Experiences are more important.
Family is important.
Our relationship with God is important.
You can’t take your stuff to heaven.
All true. What we have around us every day DOES affect us in this life, but it may impact all of us in different ways. Stuff might be a controversial subject, but not all stuff is bad for us.
My last home was a beautiful English Tudor fixer-upper. And while I loved many things about it, like my remodeled kitchen and original plaster walls and wood work, the house itself caused me anxiety, especially when my husband lost his job. The house was too big for us to maintain. Too expensive for us to heat. Too much work for us to do as unskilled DIY’ers with little time for projects. It was beyond our means and it felt like we were one house repair or cold winter away from financial disaster. Too much stuff we couldn’t keep up with, so we downsized our house and our stuff by half.
Being surrounded by the wrong stuff can zap our time, energy, resources and focus away from what matters. When we have stuff we don’t need, we can get bogged down in reorganizing junk we don’t care about, dusting meaningless trinkets and hiding excess in the garage or under the bed because we might want it someday.
When we obsess over stuff we can’t afford, we spend too much time worrying about how to get what we want in life or being deprived of what we can’t have, and less time on simply caring about others.
Too much of the wrong stuff will stifle our potential and limit our time or energy for service. Less of the wrong stuff can free us up to do more good stuff. Are you still with me? Some people clearly have too much stuff, considering how many in this world have too little.
But does that mean the stuff itself is wrong? Or is it only wrong to surround ourselves with the wrong stuff for the wrong reasons?
The right stuff, stuff with meaning, purpose or intention, stuff we can afford to enjoy or share with others, or stuff that is pleasing or appropriate in our life can energize us. It can refresh us to have the right stuff for the right job for the right life and right reasons. God provides beautiful things for our enjoyment.
Stuff can be good.
Minimal stuff might be some people’s thing, it might be what energizes them and frees them to use their life as God intended, just as a pretty well-kept room alive with the right balance of pattern, color, fresh flowers and piles of well-loved books might be my thing.
If you’ve been addicted to stuff or coveting things you don’t have, less will probably be more for you. We need to know our own heart and deal with our stuff in a way that is pleasing to God.
The beautiful things I enjoy having around me aren’t my “everything” or an idol, but they do serve a good and worthwhile purpose in this season of our life. Having the right stuff puts a spring in my step and brings a smile to my face, but the wrong stuff consumes me.
Most importantly, a good balance of the right stuff doesn’t distract us from what God is doing in or through our life, they are a part of his blessing and plan for us right now. When we have that balance, we feel peace in knowing we are where God wants us for this season and we can be content right there.
I have a really hard time with even the good stuff on Pinterest. I enjoy Pinterest in moderation, but seeing too much stuff on a regular basis drains my own creativity and zaps my energy. Seeing 25 More Ways to Decorate a Pumpkin flashing before my eyes yet again sends me over the edge. I can only handle so much STUFF all the time.
Clearly, I have issues. Too little stuff disappoints my creative eye. Too much stuff I don’t need stifles my creative potential, weighs me down and distracts me. I need a carefully chosen and well-balanced diet of the right stuff, and that is what this year has been about for me. Finding that healthy balance so I can invest myself in stuff that really matters.
Do you have issues with stuff? Do you have too much stuff you don’t want? The wrong stuff? The right stuff? How does stuff energize or drain you? And how does your stuff impact God’s purpose in your life right now, in this season?
[How many times did I fit the word stuff into this post? Stuff to ponder.]