This year however, I have not embraced the season with such softness of heart. I’ve been a little “grumpy”, I’ve been getting annoyed easily and I think it has something to do with how aware I’ve become of our “abundance”.
Many years ago my husband and I were living in a small two bedroom apartment, we had plenty of space we thought, and right then and there we decided we never wanted to have more “stuff” than we could fit into a two bedroom apartment. We were simple people, that’s one of things we both loved about each other. We didn’t care for possessions, we knew what was important.
Well fast forward several years and we now own a three bedroom house, with a garage and stuff, lots of stuff and we have four kids and all their stuff. It’s a lot. We are filled with an abundance of blessing.
Now let me clarify, we are not considered “rich” in our society’s standards. Our home is very modest, “only” about 1500 sq. ft., we still have lots of home improvement projects in the works, our kids don’t have every gadget that other teenagers have, we still don’t have an iPad and so on.
Please bear with me, I know I must sound a bit cynical; it’s not bad to have such things. I do know that but I personally am just struggling with how to truly have a thankful heart in the middle of so much.
Recently, I read the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and it really got me thinking. Now the book deserves a post all of its own but I will give you a very brief synopsis. Basically, the author does a little “experiment” where she identifies seven areas of “excess” (food, clothes, possessions, stress, waste, media, and spending) and does a sort of “fast” to fight back against modern day excessive consumption. During this time Jen and her family try to live a reduced life in order to be filled with a greatly increased God.
This book really hit home for me. During “clothes” month Jen wore only 7 articles of clothing. And friends, I could easily, EASILY do that. I wear jeans and t-shirts or sweaters pretty much every day and yet I have a closet full of things. In the “possessions” month, Jen and her family worked on giving away 7 things every day. In the spirit of our early days in our little apartment my husband and I were excited to do this one. We’ve given away things from every room in our home and there’s still SO much left.
If we are to focus our attention on what’s really important, family, relationships, people, why is it then that we find ourselves spending so much of our time on our belongings. Things. Cleaning things, dusting things, washing things, organizing things. I don’t know about you but “things” seem to be taking up a lot more of my time that the people who use the things and I don’t like it. At all.
And my heart hurts because of so much plenty.
Why God, am I allowed to live with so much? I get grumpy at the abundance of laundry I must wash. I get angry that my kids complain about how there’s never anything to eat in a house full of food. That they ask why they have to have pasta or chicken or vegetables, “again” this week? While others go days without so much as scraps? Babies dying of starvation. Why not us?
When I have friends struggling with infertility, why am I the “lucky” one who’s had FOUR blessings without so much as even having to try?
When I have even other friends who have lost beloved children, why God are mine all healthy? Why?
I don’t want to live in the whys. Really I have no answers. I know He is good. Always. I know His plans are not my plans nor are His ways my ways.
So all I can do is be thankful? For a life that I will never deserve. For blessings that I could never earn.
I have been given much; blessings, hope, grace and I want to I want to live in gratitude. Not just as a once a year holiday celebration, but as my life.
. . .From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48