I'm thinking about how I can be more generous: giving my time and resources to others, and giving time and resources to God. The goal is to carve out more space for him. This involves more than purging my stuff:
When God told us to give, I suspect he had spiritual formation in mind as much as meeting needs. (7, Month 3: Possessions)
Like consistent discipline eventually shapes our children's behavior, so it is with us. Believe it or to, God can still change us. (7, Conclusion)I'm trying to think clearly about all this, because:
Guilt might be the first chapter, but it makes for a terrible story . . . If your stuff and spending and waste and stress are causing you tension like mine is, just do the next right thing . . . Take a little baby step. Tomorrow, you can take another. Offer yourself the same grace Jesus has given you. We're no good to Him stuck in paralysis. (7, Conclusion)In some areas of my life, I've suffered from paralysis. Now, I'm wiggling my toes.
Here are my baby steps:
(1) Food - No more edible food in the trash. This happens during our whiniest meal of the day, supper. The kids are tired, they've snacked too much, and by 6:00 p.m. they don't want to eat something perfectly acceptable, like chicken. I've instituted a trio of new dinnertime rules (which, if successful, may deserve a separate post later) with the end goal being: eat what you've got. From now on, no one "has" to finish their supper, but they will eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.
*I enforced this rule last Friday night/ Saturday morning, and it worked. I tried not to let the boys see my shock.
(2) Clothes - I finally see my closet as full. It doesn't matter that I have less than some women - that will always be true. The bigger truth is that I have more than I need. I can actually SEE that now, and that realization has made me appreciate what I have. This Target tank top doesn't feel second class anymore. I don't mind wearing my black shorts, again. I feel inspired to get creative with what I've got, and to purge, purge, purge. Which leads me to . . .
(3) Possessions - We will continue to give to Goodwill. We will also look for opportunities to make direct connections: Do I know someone who might be able to use this? In many cases, I do. A new prayer: Lord, open my eyes.
(4) Media - The major distraction in my life is the little computer I carry with me everywhere to check email, Facebook, read, and talk: my phone. No more using the phone when I'm in the car with the kids. (Oh, don't give me that look. I know I'm not supposed to use the phone in the car, let alone with my kids in the car, but I do, and I've seen you do it, too.) Not only is it a dangerous distraction - kind of like the kids - but it sets a bad example. Plus, car time is prime conversation time. How many nuggets have I missed because I was unavailable? I shudder to think.
(5) Waste - We recycle like crazy at home, but I cringe at how much trash we produce outside the home. I hate throwing things away that could be recycled, so to provide myself with an option when there are no recycling bins nearby, I'm keeping a container (just a bag) for recycling in my car. Yes, I will be that weirdo carrying the Chik-Fil-a nugget containers and milk bottles out to my
(6) Spending - We have some household purchases coming up, and I am more committed than ever to shopping local and second-hand for them. I'm an impatient shopper, and that has resulted in some bad decisions. I'm learning to embrace the hunt when I look at it through the lens of a greater good. I'm not just out to spend money; I'm out to use my resources wisely.
(7) Stress - My morning quiet time routine - where I actually read the Bible, and do not blog - is essential to keeping my stress levels low. I know this, yet I sabotage it with late nights or computer time. Instead of adding something to my plate in this category, I just need to get back to what works for me. I'm going to bed at a more reasonable hour, so I can get up when I want to, and have that sacred space.
Whether or not you've read the book - Do you see any of these areas as "excess" in your life? What can you eliminate, in order to quiet the world and make space for God?
Friends blogging about 7 today: