I cleaned out my closest last weekend. I also cleaned out the boys’ closets, and I politely insisted that my husband clean out his, too. And I helped him. He might argue about my use of the word “help.” But I really do feel like I did him a great service, standing at the threshold of his closet, shaking my head as he held up one shirt after another. He drew the line at the 1981 Foghat concert t-shirt. That one went back into the closet, instead of into the bag bound for Goodwill. Maybe next time.
I like to organize closets. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than knowing I have sorted through every last purse, every last pair of jeans, every last of my husband’s golf shirts and discarded those I don’t wear, don’t fit or, as in the case of Brad’s golf shirts, are just plain ugly.
Last Saturday I felt liberated as I drove three trash bags full of discarded items over to the Goodwill and nine grocery bags of books (yes, nine – have I mentioned I am married to an English professor?) to donate to the library. It felt good to hand over so much stuff.
Until, that is, I was struck with the sudden urge to shop. No sooner had I unloaded the donated items from my mini-van when I immediately felt the overpowering desire to hit Target and replenish the “void.”
There seems to be a pattern here. I cull through my offensive amount of stuff and donate a bunch of it to charity, and then battle the urge to buy more.
Somehow my giving seems to entitle my getting.
I probably don’t need to tell you that this isn’t what God has in mind for us.
The truth is, God values relationship over riches, substance over more stuff – relationship with him, as well as with each other.
“Life is not measured by how much you own,” Jesus tells us (Luke 12:15-21).
Frankly, I don’t think God cares very much that I gave away three trash bags of clothes and nine bags of books last week. In fact, he might be wondering why in the world I’d acquired so much stuff I didn’t need or use in the first place.
No, I suspect God would prefer I spend my time not shopping to acquire more stuff I don’t need, but spending that time in relationship with him through my relationships with others.
As much as I wanted to, I didn’t turn the mini-van toward the Target parking lot last Saturday. Instead, I drove straight home. And later that weekend I spent the entire afternoon sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of my neighbor’s living room, my shoes off, feet tucked into the cushion. We chatted about the weather, recipes and good reads – nothing particularly special or exciting.
But when I left her house and walked down the sidewalk toward my own home, I felt refreshed and fulfilled, relaxed and at peace – the kind of peace that will never come with the purchase of a brand-new purse.
What about you? Do you ever feel entitled to get just because you’ve given? What’s one thing you can give away this week (without buying something new to replace it!)?
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