Today I found an old iPad charger in a drawer while cleaning out some clutter. This discovery made me take a moment to reflect. Why? Because I didn’t know I owned this charger. At some point I bought it and stowed it away. But that moment was lost in the archives. In fact, several months ago a friend asked me to borrow it because theirs stopped working and they had to wait for the new one to arrive in the mail. When they asked, I told them no. I would have gladly loaned it, but I couldn’t share I didn’t have. And you might as well not own something if you don’t know that you own it or can’t find it.
I recently preached on some of the problems with materialism and consumerism at our church, so this has been on my mind. You can listen to the message here. But finding this charger clarified several things for me. Here are a few more observations that can fuel the movement to get away from “stuffocating” our souls with material things.
When you have too much stuff, you have trouble remembering what you own. If you do remember, then it is because you have devoted vital time and mental energy to keeping track of it. This is time and focus that should be spent on things that actually matter. It can be like our own private version of warehouse management. Simply trying to organize and remember what we already have can be exhausting, and expensive.
And if your house and garage are full, then something like this will probably happen to you: You need something that you think you already own. But you don’t know for sure, and you definitely don’t know where it is. So you spend a lot of time and frustration looking for it. And if you can’t find what you are looking for, you may end up going to the store to buy another one anyway. Now you own 2 of them.
This whole arrangement is draining. And that is the real price of having too much stuff. It robs us of our time, focus, and emotional energy. And these are limited resources that should be used for things that are really important, like God and people. And it is not just exhausting when we are trying to find the thing we need. It is exhausting because thousands of things we might need some day are in the way of the life we are trying to live everyday. How many of us know we should straighten up our stuff to make life more navigable, but the thought of spending several hours (or days!) is just too overwhelming? What’s the answer? Lets go shopping!
Better to give deliberate thought to the meaning and purpose of our lives and then determine to only acquire and own what we need for that purpose.