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February 10, 2014

Stuff...it is suffocating us...

In the aftermath of the holidays, I felt like I did nothing but sort through stuff, put away stuff, organize stuff, purge stuff, reorganize stuff, and clean stuff.

Stuff...it is suffocating us...all of us...whether we realize it or not...

Stuff is suffocating us

I recently read Living with Less by Mark Tabb.
It was a great follow-up to "7" by Jen Hatmaker.

We live in a day when both children and adults are making mile-long wish lists. We buy whatever we want - whenever we want it, and we teach [allow] our children to do the same thing.

-Family Circus
We are obsessed with stuff! Let me rephrase that...We are disgustingly obese with stuff - Constantly consuming more...more...more...

We spend our time acquiring stuff, working at jobs that will make it possible for us to buy more stuff, cleaning and sorting through all of our stuff. When I really stop to think about it, it is sickening.

In our house, we are working hard to squash the sense of entitlement/attitude of consumerism that so easily creeps in to all of our homes. When I think about the times we have been guilty of saying, "We need", "We want", "We have to have", I am completely embarrassed.

Maybe you've seen the show "Hoarders" - while, hopefully, most of us are not living in those kinds of horrific conditions, if you were to take an honest inventory of your home, it's still pretty bad.

In a recent post, Matt Walsh laughed at these "first-world problems": Waaaah I don’t like moving because I have so many things! I have so many possessions that the act of transporting them from Point A to Point B takes the sort of money and manpower that, if more appropriately allocated, could probably build 27 wells in impoverished African villages." Wow! I have seen - first hand - what day-to-day life looks like for our brothers and sisters in third-world countries, and Matt Walsh hit the nail on the head with this.

Back to the book...
The preface opened with:
Let me get right to the point: The only we get more out of life to choose less:
Less stuff.
Less activity.
Less wanting more.
Less of you.

Throughout the book, the author reiterated the fact that...the key to making life matter is to choose to live with less.
Give stuff away.
Simplify your lifestyle.
Deflate your opinion of yourself.
Choose less because less is more.

I love this...the question is, what does it look like in real life?
For our family, it means investing more in people and less in things.
The people who influence generations aren't the giants of history, but the easy-to-ignore plain and ordinary men and women who invested their lives in the lives of others...True success comes through the small acts that make a lifetime of difference in one generation after another. Before any of us can touch and influence generations, we need to have a life worth passing down...the world has enough self-centered, ego-driven, spoiled-rotten moral relativists who think the entire universe revolves around them. We don't need anymore...Finding a life worth living means living in the eternal while stuck in the temporal. - MT

It means consistently purging our stuff.
It means providing life-changing experiences (not things) for our children.
For special occasions, we love to gift outings/trips, experiences, acts of service, etc. rather than stuff-alone. This allows us to create memories as opposed to clutter. Sure, tangible gifts can be expressions of love and appreciation, and there is most definitely a time and a place for that - especially if someone's love language is "gifts". However, it must be used carefully or perspective will quickly be lost.

Here's a very small example from Christmas 2013:
David detests getting his clothes ready for work! We have always used a clothing steamer [instead of an iron], and while it makes preparing clothes easy, a chore is a chore. So for Christmas, one of David's gifts was a box wrapped up with this note tucked inside some tissue paper.

David,
A week's worth of dress clothes is ready for pick-up at the dry cleaners.
Merry Christmas to my hard-working hubby!
 I love you!
~Liz

You see, David didn't need another shirt for Christmas - He needed something done about the ones he already has.
*More Ideas for Un-Stuff Gifts for Hubby*

One of my gifts from him was a 60-minute massage at one of my favorite pampering spots. He knows I do not need anymore candles or picture frames or coffee mugs or Bath and Body Works lotion or clothes or kitchen appliances or holiday decorations, and a long time ago I gave him full permission to gift me a massage for pretty much any and all special occasions. He still writes me sweet letters in cards. He still brings home flowers. He still buys things that he knows I will love. However, he knows that I prefer experiences (like a 60-minute massage or a fun trip) over more.stuff. I do.not.need.more.stuff!

What does saying NO to stuff look like for you and your family?

More than anything, I want what I devote my life to, to last longer than I do. -MT
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal. - Matthew 6:19-20

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read
Tips for Purging Your Home

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