A Bushel of Brooks

A Bushel of Brooks
Us as we are ...

Friday, January 31, 2014

Storing Up - January Reflections

This year has started out rather unusual for me, I think. One, it started out with a fantastic trip away with Eli ... that ended with us coming home to three sick children and a crisis to handle that I've already mentioned before. Started off with a bang, to be sure!

But although the challenges were in those situations - I have been challenged even more deeply within myself. A friend at the gym gave me a Christmas present mid-December. A book that she had mentioned to me once when we were both sharing different studies that our Bible studies had done (I don't even know what church she attends! Ha!). Her small group had read this book, and she thought I would enjoy reading it. Seven, by Jen Hatmaker. Apparently, Jen has written several other books and other women have had heard of her, but this was the first time her name had crossed my path. The basic premise of the book is dealing with the issue of excess in life ... through seven areas. Written more like a journal as the author spends a month to work through each area. Seeking to see what needs to go to simplify life, put aside clutter (both physical and mental) in order to really be an effective, life-giving, woman of Christ.

I read the chapter on food and enjoyed it.

And then I got to the chapter on clothing ... AND THEN I read the chapter on possessions.

Convicted. Stirred. Humbled.

What on earth am I doing? Though we have all heard or know the verse: Don't store up treasures on earth ... store up treasures in heaven ... the fact of the matter is I am. I am storing up treasures on earth. I buy myself more clothes when I don't need them. I buy my children more toys when they REALLY don't need them. I often use the power of the dollar on myself or my family, rather than on those who might have a real need. And when I don't want/need something anymore, I often take it to Goodwill, rather than even working to find someone else that could really use it!

It sickens me. I feel like a mirror was held up in front of myself. Truly, I did not realize how sucked in to the "more is better" culture I was. I wouldn't have thought I was. I care about the poor and needy - I am a social worker! But, do I give in such a way that I look different?

Eli and I have really been processing this together. Deep in our core, this isn't the way we want our boys to be raised. We want them to see us truly truly living out the principle that it is better to give than to receive. We want them to see that we hold material possessions loosely ... they have no eternal value.

What if my boys were to see that everyday? Grasp the power of not being bound by comparison and achieving the American Dream? What if Eli and I were to really have that deep within our own hearts? We want the Brooks to be known for generosity, compassion, kindness, courage.

I don't have the answer on how to get there. But we're working to take one little step at a time. This doesn't mean we still don't want to sell our home and move. Doesn't mean I'm going to wear the same pair of jeans for the next five years. But it means that I'm considering purchases more carefully. And as we've once again been going through our house, we've given extra tools and kitchen stuff to a young couple that needed them - not dropped off at Goodwill to a huge pile. I've gone through all my clothes, weeding out what I don't wear much. No more keeping every pair of pants because I "might need that size later on". The boys helped go through their toys, and we bagged up two big bags to pass on to a toddler with parents going through a tough financial time. What if we didn't acquire "stuff" in such a way that twice a year I wouldn't have a WE NEED TO DECLUTTER OR I WILL GO CRAZY kind of moment?

I don't journal this to pat myself on the back. No, I'm challenged even more to not let this go. It can creep back quite easily. It's easy to compare oneself and one's possessions to others. Yet, it only leaves me feeling lesser than before. It's a trap. I have nothing against "things" in and of themselves ... it's when they become more. They become desired. They look like they'll give some type of fulfillment. And my attitude shifts to "I need that".

I am personally, and as a couple we are at a place in which we feel ready to be challenged. Ready to be formed by the Potter's hands. Even desiring to lay things down. I don't really care if that looks radical or different. I don't want to look back with regret on what kinds of treasures my heart was truly after ...

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