When I moved to Japan in the summer of 2009, I had to decide what was absolutely essential for me to pack into the two suitcases that my airline would allow on an international flight. I was going to look for a job as an English teacher, and I didn't know how long I would be living there. I spent several days deciding what to bring and what to leave, packing the rest of my stuff into Rubbermaid containers and storing them in my sister’s attic. I lived in Japan with a lot less stuff than I ever had in the U.S.
When I got accepted to NMSU last year, I knew that I would have to downsize even more. So I pulled those boxes and plastic containers out of my sister's attic and sorted through them one by one. In the end, I only put two containers back into the attic (photo albums and books). The rest, I donated to Goodwill. I simply couldn't take it all with me.
The process of weeding through my stuff was not as painful as I expected. In fact, it was empowering. I hadn't seen it in two years, and having that distance from it made it seem even more like what it really was: clutter. Trinkets and things with no real value to me. These things were all just sitting in an attic, not being used anyways—what good did they do me?
I felt stronger after I gave some of my stuff away. I still have plenty that I want, but right now, I have more than what I need: food and clothes and safe drinking water. And the Bible teaches us that we should be content if we have that.
Sometimes I see people around Las Cruces carrying all of their possessions on their backs; they keep only what they can carry. There are people all over the world who don’t have half as much stuff as I do, and yet they are able to live fully. While I don’t advocate that everyone should live a nomadic or extremely sparse lifestyle, I have to admit that the old adage “You can’t take it with you” is more in tune with Jesus’ teachings than the greedy American Dream, which demands that we buy new stuff on a regular basis. Even if you don’t actually get rid of your possessions, it can be liberating to think of all the things that you can live without.
Our stuff might be comforting, but it can also feed into our greedy human nature. Like everything of this world, it can only provide temporary satisfaction. When we die, we can’t take any of it with us—not our credit cards or designer clothes or our big-screen TVs. Jesus loves the poor and the rich alike. He doesn't care what brand shoes we wear or where we bought the plates in our kitchens. He lived a simple life, free of clutter and free of sin. Shouldn't we try to emulate Him?
If something were to happen to your stuff, would you be okay? What clutters up your life unnecessarily? Where should our true contentment come from?
1 Timothy 6:6-9
New International Version (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.
New International Version (NIV)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
This post was written by Emily Haymans.