Less is more - from the root

Warning.  This post is heavy.  If you signed up for this blog looking for some fun little tips, today's reading will disappoint you.  Actually, it might make you angry.  But I have to write it.  Because if we don't know WHY we have too much stuff then we will make some progress only to find ourselves right back where we started.  Or worse.


So, in the midst of clearing out the excess from our lives, in the pursuit of a less materialistic life, we need to redirect our gaze from our mountain of stuff into the depths of our hearts.  WHY do we have so much stuff?  WHY do we think we don't have enough money?  WHY do we push ourselves to get more?

If you are not a Christ-follower, this information may sound absurd to you.  I suggest you read it anyway, just in case it resonates with your soul.  If you are a Christ-follower, I challenge you to let the Holy Spirit apply these truths to your life. And read 1 John 2:15-17.  It seems applicable to today's post.

 Either way, I would love to hear what you think.

I submit to you that our closets are crammed and our lives are stressed due to one or more of these  things: (initially I was set to share only three, but after discussing it with my SIL, she suggested a 4th.  She is very wise.  I think she is right)

1.  Ignorance
2.  Fear
3.  Lust for admiration
4.  Desire to gratify flesh

Ignorance:
We simply don't know there is a better way.  Sounds incredible but this is true.  We have been so programmed to this crazy way to live that we truly may not realize we don't have to live like this.  In my early years of parenting, I know I made some choices from auto-pilot rather than a deliberate choosing of the best.  Everyone else sent their 4 year old off to preschool so I dutifully signed mine up, too.  Not until my husband got a job transfer out of state in the middle of the school year did I stop to contemplate whether or not the kid really "needed" to go to preschool or not.  Turns out she didn't and so we never bothered to find her another one nor to send any of her siblings. And that's just one of numerous robotic decisions I made! ***Please don't think I am against preschool!!!! This is simply an example of a decision I made w/o thought but rather just because everyone else was doing it!!
Ignorance can sabotage our lives in many ways.  Take for instance, the expectation of many newlyweds to begin living at the level of lifestyel that it took their parents 25 years to achieve.  I have seen this put unbearable stress on many, many marriages.  Just because one or both of the partners didn't know their expectations were unreasonable.

Or ignorance of what "enough" is.  Or "need". Go on a mission trip to the slums of Guatemala and see if you redefine prosperity.  You get my drift.

Fear:
This one manifests itself unmercifully, and repeatedly.  Here are just a few examples of what we fear-

 -- the future.  We are afraid of what the future may hold so we feel the need to insulate ourselves against any potential disaster.  Now, I am all about wise planning for the future (the Bible exhorts us to consider the ant, who stores up for the winter) but I think we - at least we Christians - must ask ourselves if we trust He who holds the future.  Is He or is He not going to take care of us?  And, anyway, how much would be "enough" to make us feel secure???  As soon as you reach one milestone of savings, the cancer of fear has a way of convincing you to try for just a little more. So we hoard and stash and lust for more, hoping to satisfy the neverending thirst of the fear monster.

-- rejection by others. How many times we think we "need" to have something so that we can fit in or be accepted!  I know that feeling and I'll be you do, too.  When you are in a room full of really cool people and you become acutely aware that your outfit looks so wrong.  Or your house.  We are in need of a sofa at our house (as in there are literal rips in the fabric, not as in we have had it awhile and I am tired of it.) The furniture fund doesn't yet allow for a replacement so I bought an inexpensive slipcover for it. ( I tried artfully covering the first few rips with blankets but it got too many to cover up!)  I don't consider myself a person who caters to the opinions of others but I assure you, I have had some insecure thoughts about that sofa when we have entertained some folks whose homes qualify for the cover of Southern Living.  And I can see how easy it would be for those feelings to drive me to the furniture store to purchase a replacement, regardless of what the budget says.

This one is going to raise some eyebrows.  But I'll say it anyway.  Sometimes we are afraid of "rejection" by our children if we don't buy them what they "want".  Yes, we do.  We want Christmas to be fun and lovely and for every family member to feel loved and happy.  And we conclude that the way to do that is to purchase, purchase, purchase.  Temporary happiness at best.

--failure to be significant.  Personally, I believe this is the driving force in the heart of all people.  More than to be loved, we want to "matter".  And, sadly, we have bought the lie that "stuff" is the vehicle that will transport us to significance.  So we push and struggle and acquire in the search for significance. We buy stuff we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't really like.  Smart.

Lust for admiration:  Before you scoff at this grade-school sounding excuse, ask yourself if you have ever bought (or wanted but couldn't buy) something with a "label" on it. This root cause is closely akin to the fear of not being significant.  Maybe it's even the same thing and I just need to drive the point home.   I often see how solidly this emotion has ahold of our nation.  One of my favorite examples was from a trip to NYC.  I was on Canal Street (many of you know that's where a bazillion vendors sell "knockoffs" for a bargain).  I found a really cute purse and took it to the cashier.  She offered to sell me a "label" for "only $5 more".  I refused because I liked the purse just for what it was and I am too cheap to pay even $5 more than I have to.  Besides, (and I promise this is the truth) I didn't know who Kate Spade was anyway!!!  But we think a label on something sends a message to others that we are someone to be admired. I may not have succumbed to the label that day but I surely have at other times!
Perhaps it's not a label but rather it's praise for accomplishments.  I know this one well.  Maybe instead of materialism,we seek to satisfy our lust for admiration through praise for talents or abilities or education or some other area of success.
I guess I am getting off the track now....

Desire to gratify flesh:  Don't write this off, thinking it doesn't apply to you because you don't waste your money on pornography.  Although that is certainly one way money (and souls) gets tragically squandered, that is not at all the only way.  We humans have come a long way from the Spartan way of life that we applaud those Greeks for.  We crave comfort and convenience and ease...and we have convinced ourselves we deserve it.  Especially if we can "afford it".  So we spend and spend and spend, seeking to make our flesh happy and full and comfortable. 
Now don't think I am advocating that we all should live in tents and forego indoor plumbing.  But do we really need laptops for every family member? $10,000 mattresses?? Or climate controlled everythings ? Or 60 inch HD TV's?  In 3 rooms????

Instead of clearing out your closet or cutting your food bill today, I hope you will do a little soul-searching.  Might make the rest of the month's tasks easier.  Or you might unsubscribe from this blog... But I hope not :)  Hang in there with me!  I think you'll be glad you did.