I’ve gotten feedback and questions on last week’s “Home” series, specifically about all the things we own, so today, let’s look at possessions.
When did we wrap our arms around a culture that defines us, sometimes almost entirely, by what we own?
Does stuff really buy happiness?
There’s psychological support that, for many, there is immediate gratification when acquiring something. But, the new becomes old very quickly, leading to dissatisfaction; then the insatiable desire for “more” kicks in.
Despite knowing what truly matters at our core and witnessing the tragic loss of life due to a pandemic, we can still lose sight of what’s truly important, caught up in our “I want/I need” culture. Instead of moving stuff out to allow more human connection to move in, there’s a subtle shift where the physical objects of life assuage emptiness, pain, or discontentment. “Ownership” becomes so important that a slow degradation of relationships takes place as possessions take power.
We’re told, prodded, and convinced that we won’t be happy or fulfilled without all “the things of life.” Like sheep herded to the water trough, we’re easily led to believe that we need more stuff to be more fulfilled. I would assert that the opposite is true.
I’ve walked through the process of “cleaning out” homes with many people but have never come across even one house where the only things taking up residence were used and/or valued. Typically, there are boxes (sometimes 5, sometimes 50) filled with stuff, and each one has to be sifted through to make sure there’s “nothing of value” hidden among the junk. There are closets full of never-worn clothing—often with price tags still attached— and cabinets overflowing with items that were never used.
We have food in our homes that actually expires before we can consume it, while 35 million people in our country alone are food insecure. ❶ We buy products—built with “planned obsolescence”—that we simply dispose of into landfills when we’re “done” with them.
We’ve developed an insatiable lust for stuff. We spend our money on possessions—we clean them (or clean around them), trip over them, insure them, can’t find them in the chaos, and create relationships with them that rival those we have with each other.
And, sadly, in the process of “buying” more stuff, we’re “selling” our time. When the place we call “home” becomes a dumping ground for possessions, we shrink. Clutter roots us in our space—just like a plant root-bound in its pot.
If you’re “root-bound” in a house that doesn’t add to your reality or live with so many possessions that you don’t even know what you own, consider making a change. But, before you can do that successfully, you have to understand what makes you tick. The first thing I talk about in organization class is the reasons we hang onto, covet, or build our life around “things.”
Some of them are profound, borne out of pain/heartache/loss:
• poverty early in life
• moving a lot
• being shy, insecure, or hurt by others
• death of a loved one
For most of us, however, those emotional explanations aren’t applicable;
Many homes, full of stuff, grow from more simplistic reasons:
• feeling overwhelmed
• the “what if” clause
• letting go of a belief
• misguided loyalty
• reminders of the past
• keeping up with neighbors, friends, or family members. ❷
If our homes are to be the place we can’t wait to get back to, they need to be
of course, peaceful.
A peace-full home takes dedication and desire. It doesn’t simply happen; it requires evaluating what really matters to us, then taking action.
When we get to the end of this life, it’s
the relationships we’ve fostered,
the connection we have with God, and
the way we’ve walked through this space in time that will matter.
When we take our last breaths, all the rest—all the material possessions—will fade away.
❷ if you’d like more detail on those reasons, just reach out to me