Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I am thankful that God spoke through my excess

As I stood inside my closet, my eyes fell upon stacks and stacks of shoeboxes. I glanced to my left and took in the sight of a shoe rack hanging on the wall. It was filled with even more shoes. I counted them and was shocked. And ashamed. I had 48 pair of shoes. Excess.

I fixed my gaze on the closet rod to my right and began looking at the long row full of shirts, jackets and blouses. I didn't even want to count them, but I did anyway. 100... I had 100 shirts hanging in my closet. And that didn't even count the sweaters that filled a drawer in my dresser. Or the t-shirts that filled another one. Excess.

I looked at my dresses and skirts and pants that occupied yet another rod in my closet. I didn't even bother to count. I knew there were too many.

As I walked into my bedroom from the closet, I opened my drawers and I continued to see too much. Way too much. And I was ashamed.

Who needs 20 pairs of pajama pants and matching shirts? Who needs 30 undershirts in every color possible? Why do I need a drawer filled with bracelets and earrings when I basically wear only a few of them. Why is there a cross on my dresser draped with about 30 necklaces that I never wear but keep them anyway?

I began to think about this and realized that I had becomes much too focused on clothes and shoes and stuff. Much too materialistic.. I had spent way too much money on things that were not very important. I had too much. Excess...And God began convicting my heart and speaking a word to my ailing spirit.

Excess... A quantity much larger than needed. A state of exceeding what is normal or sufficient.

I was guilty of excess alright.. Big-time excess. I suppose I have always been aware that I had too much. I buy things when I don't really need them. I buy things because they're cute and pretty, not necessarily because of a need I have for them. I spend way too much on frivilous things.

Did you know that 40% of the world, or 2.6 billion people, live on less than $2 a day. Two dollars a day.... I spend that much almost every day on a diet cherry coke from Sonic. And I will drive 13 miles to town and 13 miles back just to fill that craving. That is absurd. And that really shames me. 

Did you know that 15% of the world, or 1.0 billion people, live on less than $1 a day. One dollar!

I am living in some major abundance while there are people working very hard for the price of a sonic drink. I waste more money than billions of people make.

Each day, over 26,500 children die of preventable causes related to their poverty. That is almost 10 million children a year. About 9 million people die each year due to causes related to hunger. There are over 350 million children in the world classified as 'hungry'.

And I am sitting here in my excess and not really giving much thought to the poverty that affects so many. I've never been hungry. Never missed a meal because of a lack of food. As a follower of Christ, I need to be more aware of the plight of so many people in this world. I need to realize that in my excess I am not doing what I should be doing to try and help. I am not being a good steward of what God as blessed me

The Lord has been showing me that there are many ways I can cut back in my excess and use it to begin helping those in need.  God has been dealing with my heart on this and helping me to see that I have way too much and it's time to start scaling back. It's time to take the excess and give to those that need it. It's time to find a way to begin doing something to help fight against poverty in this world. It's more than just paying my tithe at church and thinking that's the best I can do. I can't just sit idly by and not try and do my part.

I am thankful that God used my closet to speak truth to my heart. I am thankful that He is changing me little by little and molding me more into who He wants me to be. I am thankful that He revealed this excess in my life deep into my heart.

"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien" (Leviticus 23:22)
Join Dana for Thankful Thursday!

**statistics from "The Hole in our Gospel" by Richard Stearns


Yaya Yarns said...

I love your heart for the LORD!

Mari said...

Beth, thank you for sharing so openly and honestly about this. I came to realize the same thing while I was in the process of moving last year. Sooooooooo much STUFF. All the money I've wasted buying these things that I end up just throwing out, giving away, or selling for pennies at a yard sale. I too have been convicted of waste and the need to be content with less. I am on that journey now.
Yesterday I spent the day going to local shops and antique malls in the area...not to buy things, but mostly just to look around. Memories of things I have bought in the past and a craving for more nagged at me. But I can say, I only ended up buying one little item that I KNEW I needed for our new little house. It is hard to deny ourselves little pleasures and upgrading to a newer "thing", whatever that may be for us. Contentment and Simplicity are my new words for this year. I do so want to be a good steward of what God has given us!
Many blessings to you on your journey.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Great post...God has had us in a season of where we can only get our needs met and many times not even those met. This season has taught me so much and I have learned what excess truly is, and what is a real need instead of a want.
Thanks for sharing, I will continue to look for excess.

Your blog looks is so wide, how did you do that?

Bekah said...

My word for 2011 is CALM- and a lot of that revolves around reducing the amount of STUFF in my house and in my life. You're not alone in wanting to rid life of excess!

The Bug said...

OK, I'm convicted. I had already begun thinking about giving away all the things I didn't wear this past season, but now I'm going to work even harder than that!

Dakota said...

Great post, Beth! Your comment on my blog prompted me to click over and check it out, and I think it's amazing how God spoke to our hearts about the exact same thing on the exact same day and prompted us both to write a blog about it. I love when God does stuff like that!

In Christ,
Dakota - A Look at Life from a Deerstand

Nana Jul said...

When He opens our eyes and reveals ways we can help others...and you know it's Him speaking..He sets your heart into action. Proverbs 11:25 A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed!
May the LORD refresh you as you refresh others!!
Happy closet cleaning Beth!
Love ya,

Thena said...

Great post.

Nancy said...

It is easier to live a simpler life and I'm trying to do that.

"Just Me - NC Beth" said...

Enjoyed your post....I think we all in some form or fashion are daughter and I were discussing that very thing this morning.

Thanks for sharing and reminding us.


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

My good friend, this post is convicting to me as well. I have a blogging friend, Cindy at Letters from Midlife, who speaks a lot to the issue of excess... of decluttering our homes and living in simplicity. I am drawn to these writings as they stir my heart for further, deeper obedience. I remember her recently talking about a guy who lives with the 75 principle... at any one time he only has 75 possessions to his name. This includes clothing, toiletries, housing needs, etc. Isn't that something? I couldn't do it; seems a bit obsessive to me, but I do like the idea of living simpler so that my $ could be better invested into the lives of others.

I'm heading to my closet tonight. I know there are bags of stuff to give away.

Your faith is a precious gift to me.