Friday, July 27, 2012

Week 3:7: Possessions

Welcome to week 3. I'm gonna be honest with you - this week flew by. Instead of chewing on the chapter all week and putting together a thoughtful blog post, I am cramming some sentences together in the 30 minutes I have while everyone is "resting". This was a great chapter, and I know that y'all have probably have some great thoughts about it, so please share them!

Here are a few of my own thoughts:
We have so much stuff. SO.MUCH. Sometimes I think that it would be a blessing for our whole house to burn down and then we could just start over. Gone would be my awful popcorn ceilings and the myriad of toys and all of the stuff that I am too lazy to just get rid of. In reality though, I would like to purge a great number of things but I'm overwhelmed by two thoughts:
1. How am I going to get this stuff out of here?
2. Where will it go?
I would love to be able to meet needs, I just don't know what or where those needs are. I do pass things along to Cedar Lane and Choices, but sometimes I wonder if my unloading is more of a burden than a blessing. Does anyone have any ideas how to organize something like Jen and her friends did in the book? Should we start a "You Need It, We Have It" facebook page where people could list what they have and/or what they need?

I'm stealing the discussion questions from Marla's blog, feel free to answer them in the comments, or just to think on them.

1. Jen says she used to pardon her excess from the tension of the gospel by saying, “It doesn’t matter how much you have; it’s what you do with it.” But then she forced herself to answer this question honestly: Are we really doing something honorable with our stuff other than consuming it?”
a. Have you used this line? 
b. What are some honorable things you’re doing with your stuff?

 2.“We’ve invented a thousand shades of gray, devising a comfortable Christian existence we can all live with–super awesome, except the Bible doesn’t support it. According to Scripture, no real disciple serves God while addicted to the dollar. There is no sheep/goat hybrid.” What do you think of this? What shades of gray do you think we’ve invented?

Finally, here are two quotes that really stuck out for me in this chapter:
Quote 1:
"I wondered if the American church was like well-mannered nice-talkers, sitting in a living room sipping coffee, talking about choir practice, while the world burns down outside our windows. While the richest people on earth pray to get richer, the rest of the world begs for intervention with their faces pressed to the window, watching us drink our coffee, unruffled by their suffering."

What do you think about this? On a personal level, I have been really struggling lately with this thought and with the institution of "church" and what roll I should have (if any) in it. 

Quote 2:
"Obedience isn't a lack of fear. It's just doing it scared."
Oh good. I think. 

Okay, it's comment time. I'll try to be less of a slacker next week. :-)
White highlighting!!! (Shakes fist at blog post!!)


  1. Ok so those of you who are "friends" with me on FB know that this chapter hit our house HARD!. We have been purging through my blog and Facebook. I have also set up a yard sale and all the proceeds are going to Choices of the Heart.
    For a while the clutter has been nagging at me and after reading this chapter I knew I had to turn the stuff into something worth wile. This is a win/win/win situation. My house gets cleaned/ we donate the money/ we get good feelings :)
    The second repercussion of this chapter was that we decided that no money would be spent on anything that was not a need this month. To say that we saved a lot of money would be an understatement. I loved the idea that Jen and her family donated the money they saved and we are doing the same.
    I have to say that this purging has been very easy for me. I never thought that it would be. I feel that my attitude about "stuff" has really changed. Some of the things that would have been classified as a need has now been down-graded. It's nice not to think about all the stuff all the time.
    I have also been contemplating "church" and my part in it. I think that topic does come up later in the book so I'll save my rant for then.

  2. I'm going to chime in as kind of an overview of all three chapters, because to me the message of this book is the same so far no matter which chapter you're looking at. I think one of the things I underlined which meant the most to me was from the first chapter - "I wept for all my children tonight, my Ethiopian children orphaned by disease or hunger or poverty who will go to bed with no mother tonight and my biological children who will battle American complacency and overindulgence for the rest of their lives. I don't know who I feel worse for." It also hit home when she compared our "imaginary needs" to others' "real needs". How many times do we think we need things we could really live without? I read a book on budgeting that said before you buy something, ask yourself "How have I lived without it for this long?" and "How would I still live without it?" I think we as a culture have such high expectations anymore about what our lifestyle should be like that we are pretty out of touch with what it's like to really not have the basics, which is the point of what she is doing - to minimize what she has in order to realy relate to those people.
    That being said, I also agree with those who said that sometimes her focus on trying to do without ended up putting more focus on those things in the first place. But I appreciate the lesson she is trying to learn, and even though her focus is sometimes more on those things, she is still learning it. I could not figure out 7 foods or clothes that I would pare down to. But it has made me think more about what I do have and what I do buy and whether I am being realistic about what I "need".
    But I think there's another side to this whole study - how much does the time we spend taking care of our stuff keep us from not only our relationship with those less fortunate, but also with God? How many days do we not have time to focus on Him because we have to do our laundry, run the kids to their activities, grocery shop, run our clothes to the dry cleaners, pick up the myriad of toys around the house, organize that closet that all of the stuff is falling out of, rummage through our full cabinets trying to figure out what we're in the mood to cook, etc.? And how much does that lack of time we spend with Him hinder our relationship with Him, and then as a result hinder our love for others?
    At our house we have been in a "clean-out" mode also - I am getting tired of having so much of my time encumbered by stuff, that I can't find enough time to focus on God or on others that He is calling me to focus on, whether that means giving of my money or possessions to someone who needs them more than I do, or whether it means having time to sit down and listen to someone who needs it, and showing God's love to them that way, or whether it means serving others through a ministry at church that God may want me involved in but right now "I don't have time for".
    In answer to question 1, as I clean out stuff I am trying to think of people to give it to before I throw it out, although that has unfortunately led to a very full dining room table full of stuff that I often forget to grab as I head out the door to see someone I meant to rememeber to bring something to. Slowly but surely I will get it done. :) Question 2 I'm still chewing on. As for the first quote, I do agree with it, but I feel like instead of abandoning church as we know it, because God does call us to it, we need to work from inside it to change it into what He called it to be, which sometimes it is not. And the second quote I really liked - I highlighted that one also.

    1. "But I think there's another side to this whole study - how much does the time we spend taking care of our stuff keep us from not only our relationship with those less fortunate, but also with God?"
      Yes! I totally agree with you! How much clearly would we see things, and how much easier would life be if we just put Him first. Why is that so much of a struggle and why do so many less important things constantly vie for our attention? (I'm asking myself, not you.)
      Loved your whole reply - thanks for joining the conversation! :-)