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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Simplify: this is my temporary home

As I am sitting here trying to decide how to start this article, partial lines of a country song from a couple decades ago are going through my head. “Never gonna ever get enough. Stuff. Stacking on ‘acking on up. Stuff…. [words I can’t remember] and it still ain’t worth a dime. Stuff.” Country music is about more than pickups and broken hearts and lost dogs. Sometimes they sing about the ridiculousness of materialism too.

Another thing I think about is how some “successful” people always dress the same because apparently the energy used deciding what to wear is actually significant. If you always dress the same, you simply never have to decide what to wear. I nearly always decide what to wear the night before. It seems an easy choice at night. In the morning it overwhelms me.

Things hold memories. Every time we see a certain color, hear a certain sound or smell a certain smell, our brain can take us to another time and place. Emotions come with the memory. Sometimes we experience the emotions without even being able to remember the memory. Other times we don’t realize the emotion is old and from a prior time; we think it is inspired by the current moment. Material possessions can simply be baggage: an emotional pile of broken dreams, impulse-buyer guilt, or memories which inspire longing for a prior time when life seemed so much better than the current chapter we are living in.

The fact is we have access to a finite amount of energy, time and emotion each day. We get to choose how we are going to allocate it. Will we hold on to things? Or will we create room to love people? Will we think something new will fix our discontent with something old? Will we fill our living spaces with things that will take us hours to clean and upkeep often while wondering when we will ever use what we are cleaning in the first place?

I have been cleaning my house. I don’t think I am exaggerating to say that I have gotten rid of half of my stuff. Certainly I have gotten rid of a third of it. I live in 300 square feet. I actually have extra storage room now. It is pretty amazing. There is so much more energy in my house. White walls and a bare floor can do that for a person apparently. It is so fun that I am tempted to find more things to clear out, but I would hate to get rid of things that I might actually need.

I find life is best lived simply. Complications stress me out and prevent me from loving well. They drain me of my energy and emotions. More bills mean more stress. Often bills simply come from buying more stuff. In my clear out I started to find credit cards that I haven’t used in ages. I decided I should just call and cancel them. Who needs $20,000 in credit lines when there is no way they could ever pay that off because it is as much as they make in a year? It turns out that all my credit card companies except one have given up on me anyway, and they cancelled my accounts before I ever called.

Life should be so much simpler than we make it in America. Half the time the things that we work so hard to be able to afford ruin our life and sap us of energy anyway. It can be a vicious cycle of creating our own stress by trying to afford something to fix the stress with more things that will simply stress us out more.

It’s like last Sunday when I became stressed out and felt guilty for not feeling rested. Finally I said to myself, “You aren’t supposed to feel rested right now! You have worked really, really hard for the last few months. Right now you should be feeling like you need rest. Quit being irrational!” So I did. I am coming out of a season of work. I shouldn’t feel rested before I rest. I should feel rested after I rest. Duh.

One of my thoughts as I cleaned was a realization that now that I am getting rid of all this stuff, I will actually have room for people. That’s pretty cool! Stuff takes energy, but God didn’t ask me to use my energy loving stuff. He asks me to use it loving people.

I know that this article is a little random, but I thought it a valid thought. I am only going to be on earth for another three to five decades. Why store up all this treasure here? Why not give it away and simply enjoy life with my friends instead of having my energy be sucked up by my hoarding?

Besides I was reading one of the epistles to Timothy this week and came across another verse to encourage me in this endeavor, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

I don’t need to pursue what the world tells me will make me content and secure. Instead with Paul, I can decide to be content with food and clothing. Anything I have beyond these two things is an abundance provided by God, which I would argue is above and beyond what He promised me as His disciple.

I want to experience everything He has for me. I don’t want to be busy having my energy sapped by possessions and activities that have no eternal value. I want to clean house; so that in the end, I can follow more advice that Paul gave Timothy, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

How do you interact with material possessions? Does the space you live in drain you of energy (either due to memories that objects carry or due to the burden of the responsibility of their upkeep)? Do you make your life more complicated than it needs to be? How can you simplify?

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