Our dear friend, Bethany Roe, started a website called The Simple Day last year that features a simple living tip six days a week and a Biblical encouraging word each Sunday. I have been a faithful reader since her launch. She and her contributers feature everything from "green living" tips to fun crafts and recipes. At New Year's, Bethany wrote about how this year her goal is to be give away something each week. You can see her post about it here.
She is not giving away junk, not taking items to Goodwill for this particular goal. Her goal is to determine things in her life that are perfectly good, but that she can live without. Then she finds someone who needs it and gives it away. It can go the other way around, also. Sometimes the friend in need is found and she realizes she has an item she can spare. She gave away her blender, her Friday night with her husband, a book and some coffee she won in a drawing.
Her goal has inspired me to think of how many things I hold on to for sentimental reasons. I am sentimental to a fault. I keep books, junk, blurry pictures, cards...a lot of things. I was telling Zach how even if I know I'll never read a book again, I would buy someone a new copy of it and give it to them if I thought they should read it before I would give away my copy. For example, I read the book "Waking the Dead" by John Eldridge when I was a freshman in college. It was a life changing read for me, but I have hardly cracked the cover since 2003. But still, when I look at the book it reminds me of the way I felt while I read it and how my relationship with God was affected by it. We have a futon that is living in our basement because we have no room for it in the bedrooms of our house now that we have a nursery in one of them. I can't let go of it both because it is in perfectly good shape and because it was my bed in high school and it represents to me the sacrifice my parents made to get it for me so I could have the room I dreamed of. I don't know how big a sacrifice it was for them to get it, but I didn't NEED it and they got it for me anyway. It was a wonderful gift.
These are the types of things that I get attached to. I am going to play off Bethany's goal, though, and try to simplify this year. If a card or letter or ticket stub truly has value to me, I am going to stop keeping it in a box and put it in a frame or album. If it's not important enough to do that with, I am going to get rid of it. I think we are also going to take inventory of the belongings in our house (not just the sentimental ones) and stop keeping things just because we've always had it.
I think simplifying in this way can be glorifying to God in a couple of ways. One way is that we stop leaning on "things". It is easy to feel comfortable and lazy when we have everything we want. When we purge the things that are unnecessary, in our homes and in our hearts, we make room for God to work in our lives and to show us exactly what we really need. The other way is that I feel the sheer amount of "stuff" Americans are able to have is an affront to the rest of the world's needs. With less in our lives physically, I feel like it will open up both money and awareness of needs in the rest of the world (and even in our own city!). I think sometimes our empathy and conviction to care for the widows, orphans and homeless gets smothered by all our stuff.
Plus our house will be cleaner and less cluttered...that's always a plus!