On Not Belonging to Our Belongings

Thadventure with them. (1)

We were created for the Lord. And He gave us everything we needed in the Garden. An abundance, really.

Not just a bare bones, run-of-the-mill environment. No, not our God, the great Creator, with limitless imagination and full capacity to bring forth whatever it is he imagines. He fashioned the most beautiful garden, full of lush green living things, flowers, trees….all growing to his glory and for our pleasure.

And there wasn’t just one dietary option. No. There were a plethora of trees to choose from, to fill our bellies and experience fullness. But—the generous expression of God’s provision was not enough. We wanted more. 

We could not simply settle for a perfect garden or a myriad of fruit trees; God was holding out on us.

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Ever since the garden, we’ve been plagued with the sense that we need more. Even with everything we already have, we must seek out what is being withheld from us.

That sensation can manifest itself in many different ways, but for a lot of us, especially on this side of the world, it’s in lavishing heaps and heaps of material possessions on ourselves. We want it all! We make sure we get the things we need to have a good life and in the end—just like in the garden—it ends up shrouding us in shame, choking us in the lie that we believed when we picked out that fruit. And that indispensable item, 1,000 times over.

And then we stop and look around our homes and lives and we feel like we are suffocating. From all this crap. Crap that we found a way to get because there wasn’t enough. Our appetites weren’t satiated.

My kids tell me after dinner all the time, “I’m still hungry,” and it’s usually because they want a treat. They confuse true hunger with desire. At the rate I provide snacks, they’ve probably gone merely a few minutes truly hungry in their entire lives. We too, confuse true hunger with desire. Needs with wants. And it’s dulling our appetites for good things.

We’ll take a garage full of tools or a new T.V. or a closet full of clothes or a fancy car or a toy room stuffed full instead of the things that truly satisfy.

God, for one.

Authentic relationships, for another.

Creativity. Spontaneity. Wonder.

Instead, we belong to our belongings. They hold us captive and represent the lie that we believed in the first place: You don’t have everything you need, you need more.

Though we had all the elements of the life that God really intended for us, in the garden; we were supposed explore nature, in companionship with him and each other. Supposed to creatively and passionately work. Supposed to be free from anything enslaving us.

Do you feel the weight of your possessions? The weight of lies you believe— that you don’t have enough?

I do.

My husband pointed out to me that every time we purchase, find or are gifted a new item, a relationship is started with said item; one that doesn’t end until that item is routed somewhere else. So as wonderful as new possessions can be, they become another thing we have to manage. And we’re managing plenty already.

We’re coming into the season where the lie is infused with beautiful decor and nostalgic music—and the sentiment you need to give more to show people you LOVE them. Well, actually, what we’re doing is giving them more to manage.

Kudos to R.E.I, a national recreational gear company, for closing their doors on Black Friday this year and suggesting people get outside instead. Even secular companies understand that the pleasure of the outdoors and memories made will trump the flurry of consumption.

How can we start to be intentional about cutting out the excess in our lives, so we don’t belong to our belongings? 

Here are some ways I’m working on it.

  • This year for Christmas, I’m focusing on giving experiences or things that will be used and not linger, like food. I’m limiting physical gifts. A post will be coming soon with ideas!
  • Calling out my mental scenario. I think most of the time I procure something, I imagine a scenario around it that makes me want it. When what I really want is that emotion from the scenario, not the item. For instance, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to have a Belgian waffle maker? I can just see the family sitting around on a Saturday morning laughing into our waffles covered in strawberries and whip cream.” Done. In the cart. I want that Saturday morning family breakfast. If I can figure out the emotion or longing, I can focus on non-material ways to meet it.
  • Keeping accountability with my spouse on my purchases. This one’s tough for me. I like to buy “in secret” sometimes. But, I told him I want to tell him when I’m buying new clothes from now on. Knowing I have that layer of, “Hey, you said you wanted to buy less, are you sure you want to do that?” brings stability to my desire for less.
  • Developing authentic friendships. When I am living in the intended “Garden” mode, wanting more stuff is less desirable.
  • Keeping a give-away bin on hand. I’m hoping to buy less up front, but I also want to have only what we need on hand. Whenever I find I’m not using something (like that Belgian waffle maker), I put it in the bin. I have the phone number of a goodwill pick-up service on my fridge. Whenever I have at least a few items, I call to get the extra items picked up.

Most of us, thankfully, have enough. More than enough. The enemy wants us to believe we’re wanting. God is holding out. And we live like we believe that, filling the holes in our souls with temporary fixes like more stuff.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this point of recognition and I know I have a long ways to go. But I want to go back to the Garden, to live the way we’re meant to live.

 

This is part of a #Write31days series on Belonging. Links to the other posts can be found here.