Last fall, my husband, Josh, and I had had enough!
Enough of the greediness and the ugly words that tend to follow, like “mine,” “more,” and “now.”
The current holiday season wasn't helping our ache for contentment within our family. The plea for Christmas lists and constant gift exchanges among friends was just growing the want for more wants.
After one particularly greedy incident that occurred at the Dollar Store we came up with a plan that had been stirring in our hearts for quite some time.
It was a plan to restart our family focus. A plan to de-clutter our surroundings in hopes of weeding out the worldly brainwashing telling us that we not only NEED more, but that we DESERVE more.
By the time you read this post it will be 5 months after the big family purge. Our kids have gotten rid of most of the toys we stored away. The clothes were hardly missed and, besides the few items that were placed back in the closets, have been given away. And after deciding that most of the items stored away were no longer needed/wanted, we got to witness the joy in our kids' eyes as they made their “save, use, give away” piles.
They had particular friends or family members that they could see looking pretty in one of their dresses or another friend who didn't have many costumes who really “needed” our extra Spiderman one.
But even beyond the belongings that we acquire on a day-to-day basis that need to be kept in check, there is the attitude and heart behind it all.
There are 4 questions that typically circulate in my mind as I battle the fine line between enjoying God's blessings on my life and loosening my hold on them in order to bless someone else.
1- WHY do we need to try to live on less? I can be very easily distracted, and the more “stuff” I have the more distracted I become. The more distracted I become the more focused on myself I tend to be. And the more I focus on myself the less of the world I see–the needs of others, the real struggles all around me.
2- WHAT does the heart look like when feeling convicted to give something up? Do I get a feeling of entitlement when I am asked to give something up or to live on less? Do I give it up with a grateful heart, seeing how truly blessed I am or do I grudgingly give it up only because I know I'm supposed to?
3- WHERE is my focus? It sure feels good to be able to bless someone else, and to purge the home of unused or unneeded clutter, and it's always nice to hear a thank you. But if the focus isn't on Christ and all He has done for you, then it will all be done in vain. The warm feelings will fade. The thank you's and accolades only last for a time and the feelings of want will quickly rush back in. If our focus is on the One who is the provider, we will be less likely to fall back into the consumer pit again, but instead begin to live a life open to do whatever it takes to follow Him.
4- WHEN we acquire, how tight is our grip? God loves to give good gifts to His children, so realizing that we are ALL blessed is the first step. Maybe not with money or belongings, but with life, family, a God who loved enough to give up His only Son. Oh yes, we are ALL blessed! But are you having a hard time letting go of your growing children? Are you having a hard time tithing to the church? Do you have more laundry than you can keep up with? (Keep out the items you regularly wear and store the rest away. See if you miss it. Give it away!)
I've always told Josh that no matter what we accumulate over the years, I want to be able to give it ALL up in a heartbeat in order to follow the Lord's leading. I don't ever want “stuff” or other blessings to get in the way of my obedience.
So how DO you teach your children NOT to be a consumer?
By living it out yourself.
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