One Thousand Things
I usually dismiss New Year’s resolutions as silly, a sort of half-hearted self-challenge to eat healthier, exercise more, or whatever else will make the next year a better one. I admit that in past years, I have usually given it about two minutes of thought on December 31st, and I can’t even remember any resolutions that I have made, much less say that I have followed through and accomplished them. This year, however, was a bit different. On December 31st, I vowed to get rid of 1,000 things in 2015.
The last few months I have been thinking a lot about stuff. You know, the detritus of life that slowly builds up over years, helped along by mountains of birthday gifts or trips to the mall just for fun. Old school papers, clothes that don’t fit anymore, books that you bought but haven’t ever cracked open. Why do we keep these things around? Several reasons: Guilt (“Grandma gave me that ugly picture frame, I can’t give it away!”), optimism (“Someday I’ll make time to read that book!”), or nostalgia (“I wore that cute dress to the prom, and have lots of good memories from that night!”). In any case, I bet you can look around your bedroom or home, and find many things that you simply don’t need.
For me, I looked around my home and saw that this was the case. The clutter and unnecessary items in my home were taking up money, space, and time – resources that I would much rather spend on things that actually matter, like spending time with loved ones, and pursuing God in heart, soul, and mind. In fact, Jesus has some things to say about living simply, with few possessions.
In Matthew 6:19-21 (Message translation), he urges: “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
If you keep reading Matthew 6, he later says plainly: “You can’t worship God and money.” There are a few things we can learn here: God urges us to let go of earthly “treasures” and instead build up heavenly “treasure.”
Jesus loves to give his followers these little breadcrumbs, without being too specific. For me, building up heavenly treasure means investing my time, energy, and resources into things that God cares about; acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
What does it mean to you?
So, what to do? I started by researching a bit about a minimalist lifestyle, that is, living simply and seeking to limit one’s possessions to those that are either necessary or spark joy, as minimalist author, Marie Kondo, puts it. I began the slow and arduous process of sorting through piles of books, drawers of assorted junk, and boxes of old clothes, with the hope that the process would bring me closer to living out Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 (and hopefully cut down the clutter).
In the end, we are all imperfect. I am sure I will be too selfish throughout the coming months to follow through 100% on getting rid of all unnecessary items, and at this point, I am only 60 items into my 1,000 item throw-away/give-away goal.
However, the truly important part of this resolution, to me, is that I learn to hold, a little more loosely, my earthly possessions, in order that I might have freedom to seek out and hold onto Jesus.