(We’re snowed in from church today, so that’s why I’m home, posting on a Sunday morning!)
Have you ever longed for a simple life? Just wanted to throw out everything you own and live in a hut on the beach somewhere with just a blanket and a bathing suit to your name?
Okay, maybe that sounds a little extreme… but the desire for simplicity is in all of us. Deep down, we know the things of this world cannot satisfy us in the same way that a simple existence in heaven can. There, we will have no cars, or mortgages, or “stuff,” we will simply be in the presence of God.
So why do we try and find happiness here on earth in worldly things?
I have pondered this over the last few months as God has taken me by the hand and gently said, “Charity, you put too much emphasis on material things.” He doesn’t want me not to have clothes or my favorite movies on hand, but He also doesn’t want me to give in to excess… and in the past, that has been a major sin of mine. I don’t overeat, but I have a different kind of gluttony that He is starting to cure me from: collecting movies. For years, I have not been as selective as I should have been about my movies. If I enjoyed it, that was a good enough reason to buy it.
But the more stuff we have, the unhappier we are. The child with one or two toys is much more satisfied and content than the one with an entire box; there is no question of which toy is his favorite and gets played with. He never feels guilty for neglecting his other toys, nor remorse for having bought them when in reality, after awhile he has realized that he didn’t need it after all. That, sadly, has been my state in recent months as I stared at my collection of DVD’s. Hundreds of movies… about sixty of which I watch on a regular basis. I’ve seen Bleak House a dozen times in the last three years, far more than I’ve ever watched the majority of romantic comedies I own. I have seen Emma so many times that the disk is about to give out, and goes fuzzy on certain scenes, while one or two movies are still in their plastic wrap.
There’s a good kind of reflection and repentance that sounds a lot like, “You have been wasteful, but I forgive you and you don’t have to feel guilt about it,” and there’s a bad kind that has you feeling sick to your stomach about the money you’ve spent and has you not wanting to even look at your stuff. I’ve done both and struggled mightily with the latter, but in the process of doing so, God has taught me a few things.
Getting rid of the things that burden us is hard, but is also ultimately liberating. I’ve been going through my DVD collection and pulling out anything that I don’t love or haven’t watched in five years. I’m making a stack that I will send in to Amazon’s Trade In program. It’s hard to get rid of things you paid for, but if it is only weighing you down, giving you remorse, or bringing you unhappiness, you need to let it go. We so often keep things because we spent money on them rather than because we love them. It takes up space, reminds us every day that we could have better spent that money elsewhere, and is the perfect way to weigh us down emotionally, spiritually, and even physically.
If you are lucky, you don’t have that nagging feeling like I did for so long, and you aren’t hanging onto things as self-punishment or a miserable desire to get your money’s worth out of them… but if you are, don’t be afraid to liberate yourself from it. Maybe we can’t be in heaven just yet, but we can strive for a simpler life.