Ah, the holidays.
Time to savor time with family. Enjoy food we only make or indulge in at this time of year. Time to focus on why we celebrate Christmas. And join in the massive frenzy of shopping and gift giving and ending up with way more stuff in our homes than what we started with at the beginning of the month.
I don’t know about you, but my house is full. We have extras of everything hiding in cupboards, knick knacks and kitsch sitting around because someone gave them to us and we are afraid to offend them if we get rid of them. We have an excess of entertainment waiting to entertain us in our DVD shelves, game closets, toy boxes. Our garages, attics and basements are full of boxes of things we’ve not seen in years, things we are “saving for later” or things that we have no use for any longer but can’t find a way to part from them.
Why are our homes and subsequently our lives crammed so full of stuff? This stuff is stealing our time. We have to clean it up, dust it, move it, put it away. Time that we could be spending with our husbands, children, friends, ministering to others.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the excess I have in my own home. I read and reviewed Amy Bayliss’ Pursuit of Proverbs 31 and in it she asked by hanging on to un-needed stuff, if we were truly trusting God to provide for the future? Are we planning to be poor so we are hanging on to all this stuff, just in case we will need it? Isn’t that a slap in the face to our Lord who is the Provider for all things? Has He not come through in the past? Will He not come through in the future?
And then, while pondering that question, it struck me, are we sinning by hanging onto all of this clutter? Are we hoarding it and basically engaging in gluttony? This is similar like the eating-too-much gluttony, as we are hanging on to too much. Then, my thoughts went even further down this path. Is it possible that we are stealing by holding on to so much of what we don’t need? Are we withholding things that others need and could use because we just can’t part with them because we “might” need them again someday? So are we stealing from those who don’t have by having too much? Are we denying being a blessing to those who need what we have and don’t? Those are hard thoughts to consider, I know. I mulled over them for two days while the girls and I emptied their room of nearly everything and then sorted and put things back in. We put a lot of things into a box to give away, and their room was much cleaner and neater. It felt more peaceful and calm.
I’m not advocating a mandatory spartan lifestyle of having nothing at all but the most utilitarian items. I want our homes to be warm and welcoming and inviting. We should seek to have our homes as a haven from the stresses of life, a safe place for family and friends and strangers to receive hospitality. But please consider if having all of the stuff you do is a help or a hindrance to that end. For me, currently, it is a hindrance. I don’t want people to stop over because my home isn’t easily kept clean. I don’t feel calm and at peace with all of the clutter.
Now is the time to fix that. Why not during Advent, the time of preparation for the coming of the Christ child, purge your home of the clutter and stuff. Find people who need what you don’t and be a blessing to them by just giving it to them. Or donate it to a good local ministry who may have need for extra clothes, books, dishes or whatever it is you need to get rid of. By purposefully purging your home, you will find peace, time, and order. Are you with me in finding calm from the chaos this season?