I got to thinking about the days when my own grandmother raised 18 children. I’m certain that she didn’t have a separate bedroom for each child, or for each pair. It was girls in one room, boys in the other. They all fit, because they didn’t have an excess of junk.
In families like theirs, they had two sets of clothing, one for school, and one for play. School clothes were hung on a hook beside the bed, eliminating the need for dressers, closets, and credit card bills.
Today, families like mine have at least one dresser in every child’s room as well as a closet that’s full to bursting.
It really doesn’t feel good to have that much stuff–in fact it feels terrible. On a recent trip to Jamaica, I saw how other people lived. People living in poverty were well dressed, because they cherished the clothes that they owned–washed them by hand and hung them outside to dry. I saw how a young woman cherished one pair of jeans because she couldn’t possibly afford another. And then I thought of my denim collection back home and felt sick to my stomach.
Like a bulimic with chocolate cake in her throat, I couldn’t wait to go home and purge my life. Get rid of the excess, and live as she did–happy with little.
But excess has a way of creeping back in through temptation, greed and envy. Things I must constantly keep in check. Empty space feels good for a reason, it’s evidence of self control. I concentrate so much on the food that I eat, careful that I don’t take too much, all the while living in outward excess. Where’s the balance?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21, NIV
I’m so thankful for those times I’m reminded of the simple life. Each time I’m given a glimpse of how good it would feel to be free of possessions. And every time that I’m inspired to move this treasure out of my house, and put it in storage, right where it belongs.
Photo credit: Michael Schacht