Thursday, September 12, 2013

Month 2: Possessions

         So it’s actually Day 12 of Month 2, Possessions Month, but it’s been crazy hectic at school the past couple of weeks and I haven’t had time to post!

So this is a thing that happened in the past two weeks.
I was blessed to join the most amazing sisterhood on campus!
 I am so thankful for my sisters in Zeta Tau Alpha! 

However, I digress. Okay I’ll admit it. I pre-hoarded items to give away during Possessions Month before I even officially started 7. But I do have a pretty good case:

1.                    Possessions Month falls in September, right when I get back to college, and I only take to college what I absolutely cannot live without. There’s barely room for a bed in that dorm room, much less a college-aged girl and all of her clothes. (You really should see those closets. They give “microscopic” a whole new meaning.)
2.                    It wouldn’t be very feasible to have to come back home and clean out 210 items from my room to give away while I am working toward my (very expensive) college degree. (And while I’m supposed to be studying, of course.)
3.                    It is currently summer and I have nothing else to do.
4.                    Therefore, I decided to go on a major cleaning spree in July to prepare for Possessions Month.

If this goes against the rules of 7, then indict me. I’m guilty. I’ve failed. But the way I see it, as long as someone who needs the things that I rarely use gets them, then the point of this experiment is still perfectly intact.
            So far, I have cleaned out my (very large) clothes closet, from which I extricated 94 articles of clothing, and my dresser, from which I took 68 articles. I’ve only been cleaning for two days, and I already have 162 items to give away. Needless to say, this is a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. When I thought about giving away 7 possessions every day for a month, I imagined that at the end of the month I would be laying on my bare bedroom floor with nothing but the clothes on my back to call my own.
            The funny thing is, I have A LOT more stuff than I thought that I did. And when I say stuff, that’s all that it is! STUFF! Meaningless things that lay around, cluttering up my room and closets, never to be used. I’d never really thought about that “stuff” before I read 7. And if I had, my thoughts would have ran something along the lines of: So what if I have two closets full of things that I rarely wear or use? Who doesn’t?
            Who doesn’t?
            And there is the real question that I—and I dare say ALL American Christians—should be asking. Who doesn’t have the things that they need to live from day to day? Who doesn’t have a spare pair of jeans to wear? Or a pair of jeans at all? What little girl goes to school wishing she had a pretty outfit like the other little girls? What woman wishes she had a bag to carry the few things that she owns in? When most of the American church has TEN spare pairs of jeans. TEN pretty outfits they can’t wear anymore. TEN designer handbags that sit in the back of their closets.
            What is wrong with this picture? I’d like to think, in my naivety, that it’s simply because the American church does not know the people who need these things. Shane Claiborne, author of “The Irresistible Revolution,” puts it this way:

"I had come to see that the great tragedy within the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor... I long for the Calcutta slums to meet the Chicago suburbs, for lepers to meet landowners and for each to see God's image in the other... I truly believe that when the poor meet the rich, riches will have no meaning. And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end." 

Sounds ideal, right? If we knew the people who were poor, I’d like to believe that we’d be more than willing to help them, to share our excess with them. So why aren’t we doing just that? The problem is that we surround ourselves with people like us. We sit on our rung of the ladder of success and look up: Look at that new house they bought—we could never afford that. Did you hear about the vacation they took this year? That must be nice. Did you know that he bought himself a new car? I wish we were fortunate enough to be able to do that.
            And there we are, sitting on the top 1% of that ladder with all of the other people who are “so much more fortunate than us” and we want more! We have everything we could ever need, and yet we crave more! We are so fixated on the top rung of that ladder (which can never be reached, by the way) that we never stop and look down. And why should we? The people at the bottom can in no way help us reach our American Dream.
            But isn’t that what Jesus was so focused on in His earthly ministry? “The last shall be first.” “The poor shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.” “Whatever you do unto the least of these you do unto me.” Sound familiar? It was only the driving force behind all that Jesus said and did. And as the American Church at large, I believe that we’re missing the boat. The problem isn’t that we’re not willing (or at least I would like to think so). The problem is that we’re being lazy (how hard is it to pick up the phone and call a local school guidance counselor and ask if there are any children who need clothes?). We’re being content where we are—why not form relationships with homeless men and women and get to know what their needs are? We’re not being the hands and the feet of Christ… and if we’re not doing that, dare I ask it, are we even part of the Body of Christ at all?
            I recently saw a tweet from Louie Giglio that said, “It’s tough to make the case that Jesus is in your heart if the poor are not on your mind.” Man is that convicting. Because before I read this book, I can honestly say that the poor weren’t on my mind a whole lot. And when they were, I never felt like there was anything I could do about the fact that they had exponentially less than I did.
            And so, that is what I set out to do this month. My mission is to think about the poor and make myself and my possessions I rarely use accessible to them. Who knows? Maybe someone will recognize their spiritual need as their physical needs are being met. And then maybe I’ll have the opportunity to share “the reason for the hope that I have” in Christ (1 Pet. 3:15)!
To Him be the glory.

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