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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Are You Owned by Your Stuff?

Today marks two months into the new year and I'm happy to say I'm keeping my new year's resolution so far. I decided I wouldn't buy a single item of clothing for a year if possible. So far I haven't bought so much as a pair of stockings and, no, I did not stock up on anything beforehand. I'm also weeding out. Why do we fill our drawers and closets with things we never wear? And why is it so hard to get rid of anything? If I don't use it, wouldn't it be good to let somebody else have it? 

I'm hoping the Lord will use this resolution to help me live a less cluttered, more simple lifestyle. Things can get in the way of what's really important. We spend so much time shifting our stuff, dusting and cleaning our stuff, organizing our stuff that we hardly have time for the important things in life. But, sad to say, I'm still addicted to stuff - primarily books. So many of my books are like old friends I can't bear to part with. I even have my college textbook of Chaucer in Middle English. Every now and then I pull it out and read a few lines. It makes the Canterbury Tales a real challenge.

The freest I ever felt in my life was when I spent four days in jail in Arlington for participating in an abortion mill rescue. I had nothing but my prison-issue shirt and pants, a bible, a rosary, a toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, a comb, a change of underwear, and a cup. It was a liberating experience. Now if I could just foster that simplicity at home. But I'm not praying for detachment. When I prayed for humility I backed into a fence post and knocked it down. Then I caught a spoon in the garbage disposal blades that required a service call to get out. I'm afraid the quickest way to detachment is a fire, so I'm not tempting the Lord. Instead these days, I just pray to desire God's will. It's better if I don't know what I'm asking for.


  1. I know the feeling. I often think of my first little apartment. It was like a doll house and I absolutely loved it. I had a love seat, two director chairs, a WWII army trunk for a coffee table, and a wrought iron garden table for the dinette.

    Sometimes I look around my house and it terrifies me how much stuff I have (and I'm by no means a "hoarder."

  2. One concept that helps me a lot when it comes to de-cluttering is "sunk cost". Saying that something is a "sunk cost" means that the money paid for it is long gone so it should no longer be a consideration. I think most people agonize about giving things away because they paid such and such an amount for them. To give the item away feels like a waste of that money. But again, if it's sunk cost, the money's gone and the thing is still sitting around, gathering dust, taking up space and causing guilt. Put it in the bag.

  3. This is an excellent, thought provoking post!