Seven: Possessions

God and money

“The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how terrible that darkness will be!  No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” – Matthew 6:22-24 (CEB)


This week’s 7 item is possessions.  I feel like I already started this last week with the clothing.  The goal this week is to give away 7 things every day – for a total of 49.  This doesn’t seem like it will be too difficult.  Granted, I already purge my house on a regular basis.  No closet or cabinet goes more than a year without a complete evaluation.  Our church rummage sale is every May, and I do a sweep each year before it as well.  Overall, I think I do pretty well at not buying new stuff to replace it (except, probably, for the clothes).  But we still have a lot of stuff.


Day 1

My plan for the week is to go through one area of the house each day.  Today I went through the kitchen and kitchenette in the basement.  Most of what I pulled out was glassware – including a set of beer mugs from our wedding that I don’t think we’ve used once.  I got to over 20 items pretty quickly.  Where I found myself hesitating was on things like platters.  I probably have five and during the course of the year they get used.  But I don’t really need them.  That’s where I often got hung up last week.

If I use it all then is it really a problem having it? 

After all, I’m not buying more.  With clothes, our group concluded that someone else could use it now, so it did not make sense for us to hold on to things because we wear them once or twice a year.  But what about platters or glass pitchers?  And this became one of my sticking points all week.  What is the point of giving it away?

Our church rummage sale benefits the youth mission trip and subsidizing the cost of adult counselors for the middle school camp.  This is a substantial way of funding these areas (the sale raises around $10,000 each year).  One of our mission leaders commented once that he was amazed our church could yield this much stuff each year (clearly, he’s a prophet).  Furthermore, the church sees this as part of its outreach to the community at large by pricing things reasonably.  People come in from Milwaukee to shop at the sale.  But shouldn’t some of this “good stuff” from Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel go somewhere we could get more bang for our buck?

What is wrong with that last sentence?

One of our members called me on this.  Who am I to say that the rummage sale – and those who shop there – aren’t “good enough” for some of my stuff?  Maybe it would be nice to get a little more for it to go towards the youth trips, but someone may really enjoy one of these things.  Why does it seem so wrong to give my first fruits to a rummage sale?  It seems that I’m valuing my things a little more than the people who will use them.

Lord, heal my heart.


Day 7

Where did the week go?  I was legitimately out of the house for two days attending a funeral out of state.  But, honestly, I didn’t have a desire to continue to go through my house.  Yesterday I did go through linens and got rid of everything except the set of sheets on the bed (after all, I wash them and then put them right back on – we have very few towels in the house for the same reason).  I also filled my trunk full of blankets for a friend to take to the homeless shelter.  But it stopped there.

As I looked around my house, there is so much that we don’t need and don’t really use – but is that a reason to get rid of it?  In a way, I feel like I need to go all in or not at all.  Why not get rid of all of the platters, pitchers, bowls, candleholders, and other stuff that is in our house?  Is it because I like to see them in the cabinets or just want to know I have them if I entertain for a large crowd?

It just all seems like too much and finding a few things here and there to give away really seems like an easy way out.

This week seems like a bust to me, and I take all the fault for it.  A week wasn’t enough time for me to deal with whether I’m going to really turn the corner on how I view and value my possessions.  The church rummage sale is a month away, so if I take it out of my house it is just going to sit in the garage until the first week of May.  So I’m going to give myself (and my family) a month to think it through.  I am going to try to be more alert to the needs of others so I can give when it’s needed.  In the meantime, if you live in the area and know of someone who needs to furnish a new apartment or house, let me know.

I knew by about Tuesday that this week wasn’t working for me.  Since I couldn’t wrestle through my bigger problem in these few days, I decided to do something a little different.  I spent time thinking about the six other women in our 7 group and chose something from my house that I didn’t want to give up (sentimental reasons, I use it, etc.) and gave each woman something with a note trying to explain it a bit.  This became a joy.  My intent is they would take the item home unopened but instead they opened them when we together.  Part of the reason I didn’t want to open them as a group was because I didn’t tell anyone I was doing this and didn’t want it to be a “thing.”  Also, I was worried I might have picked the wrong thing and they would wonder why I was giving them my excess stuff.  But it wasn’t really excess.  Surely I can do without these six items but I would not have chosen to give them away.  However, if anyone of them would have walked into my house and asked me for them, I would have gladly given them.  By the way, ladies, I will not look around your house or your person to see if you still have what I gave you.  It’s yours now to do what you will with it, and if there’s something else you’d like or need, just ask.


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