As we quickly close in on the holiday season, you see everything speed up. The “hustle and bustle”, as we rightly refer to it. Go here, go there, do this, GET that. And whatever you do, don’t let there be one open day on your calendar in November and December to rest and recharge. Get your kids so many presents that they spill out from under the Christmas tree. And don’t forget to post it on Instagram so everyone can see that you are doing well in life. Right? It’s the American way, isn’t it? But should it be?
Unfortunately, I think it’s just normal to fall into this pattern without even realizing it. Getting all the stuff and having all the things is just something that’s hard wired into us and we unknowingly hard wire it into our kids, thinking that it means we’re successful. Did you know that your teenager will survive without the latest iPhone? Did you know that YOU will survive without the latest iPhone?
Growing up, we had what we needed, but what we never had was extra. I saw my friends getting what I would consider luxuries in life. Cars when they turned 16, nice vacations several times a year, clothes from expensive stores from racks that weren’t marked ‘Clearance’. I even had a boyfriend in high school say to me (keep in mind, this was the late 90’s), “Why can’t you dress like her and buy your clothes at Express?” My clothes were from Goody’s and I was grateful to have them. Sure, I wished I could shop at Express; I knew Express was cool and Goody’s wasn’t. But it just wasn’t going to happen. My parents never bought themselves anything EVER. They do a little more now that all their kids are grown and out of the house, but still they are not into buying things and will wear and use things until they fall apart.
At 17, once I got a job and had a little cash in my pocket, guess what I did? I went to Express! I spent way more money than I had and started on a path of feeling like I had to have all the clothes and all the shoes and all the purses I could find. I had a purse to match every outfit and changed it daily to coordinate with my wardrobe. If I bought a shirt, I bought it in 3 colors. At one point I had almost 400 pairs of shoes! As I became an adult, this continued. When I worked at a large company, it became a joke that I never wore the same outfit twice in the same year, and I really didn’t! Can you imagine?! I’m ashamed to say that now.
After the birth of my second son in 2009, I just finally started to grow up and felt disheartened with all my STUFF. I began to pray and ask God to take the desire to have the biggest wardrobe away from me. I just wanted it gone, I didn’t even want to think about it anymore. And slowly, as I prayed, He removed it from me. After a while, I just didn’t desire it anymore. It didn’t even matter. I started getting rid of stuff left and right. I have about ¼ of the wardrobe I had in 2009 and I still get rid of stuff constantly. I’m probably down to 50 (which is still a lot!) pairs of shoes and would you believe I USE THE SAME PURSE EVERY DAY. Ha.
God has not called us to be a slave to anything but HIM. I firmly and strongly believe that. The people that have the most, seem to stress the most. It’s just not worth it and it’s not the life I want to live. Albert Einstein had a “theory of happiness,” which he jotted down on hotel stationery as a tip to a bellboy at a hotel in Tokyo in 1922. “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness”. I have found this theory to be so true in my life. The less stuff I have, the calmer my life is and the more content I find myself. Having a lot of stuff keeps you busy striving to earn and then striving to keep it. I find that living with less has made me hold less tightly to things that don’t really matter in light of eternity. When we hold loosely to the “stuff” in this world we cling more tightly to dependence on Jesus alone to fulfill us.
I pray as you enter into this holiday season, you will remember to be content in all things. Try something practical to make this happen, like cutting back on gifts. You’ll save time, unneeded stress, money… and I promise, you’ll survive. ☺
1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV) 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Angi Flatt – Project Manager – Engage Media Partners