i’m still processing through my trip…which i will continue to do probably for forever…and i’ve been trying to find the right words to explain this next thought process…and i’ve decided i dont know if i ever will, but i have to start somewhere, right?
a dear friend of mine, caitlin, who also went on the trip is having what is known as culture shock. the idea that after seeing the despairing poverty in africa and condition most children live in, come back angered at americans and american culture for the obsessive, crazed people we are. her reaction is normal. but it is also something that not everyone deals with. like myself. as i sat sunday and listened to her heart, it resonated with me just how crazed we are. after all, i even have to admit to that. if i wasn’t, i wouldn’t have taken hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and everything else that makes me and you overly aware americans. but the thing that caitlin is having trouble with, is the fact that God has her right where she is. in the nice house and nice things she grew up with. it is ok for her and myself and you to have nice things. God wants to bless us. the question though is, when is it enough? when is having too much stuff bad? where is the line between average and obsessive? when do you become the american you don’t want to be: obsessive, compulsive, materialistic?
tray, caitlin and i chatted about this after church on sunday. it’s definitely a hard subject. some feel strong conviction about it. others rarely think about it. most would say they don’t have a lot of “stuff” and to that i would almost argue with anyone. i have even caught myself saying that i didn’t have a lot of things: i don’t have a lot of shirts, i need another pair of nicer sandals…and the list goes on and on. the truth is, we all have WAY too much stuff. it amazes me how little you can live off of. for example, when i lived in italy, i had 6 short-sleeved shirts, 6 long-sleeved shirts, 3 pair of jeans, 2 pair of capris, 5 pairs of shoes and 2 skirts. and i wore those same clothes for 4 1/2 months. yes, it got old but it was also nice to know that i wasn’t material-minded about it. i couldn’t go out and buy a new wardrobe there. and yet, now, i would complain about not having any shirts to wear, when in fact, i have and wear over 15 different ones. it’s simply ridiculous.
back to the point, even while i was in africa, i enjoyed wearing the same clothes 2 or 3 times. the simplicity it brings is wonderful. after all. no one cared if i wore the same shirt 2 or 3 times. “things” trouble us. they get in our way. and most importantly, they keep us from God giving us all that he has for us. even before i went, i had been considering how much time i spent with technology daily. (again, i will say, technology isn’t bad…but i believe too much of anything is never good for you.) between the blogging world, which i absolutely adore and love, facebook, twitter, google and all its gadgets, and tv i could spend hours each day doing these things. and then i will spend maybe an hour or two with my quiet time. it just doesn’t seem fair to God. more importantly, it doesn’t seem fair to me or you. we choke and starve ourselves because of everything we must do on the computer or to see the show on tv. (please dont get me wrong, i love tv [hello, food network!] and the internet but i think if we really thought about what was truly important to us, what we thought and what our actions showed would be two different things.)
i am fault for this. so, where is my line? when do i say “this is too much”? when do i decide my relationship with Jesus far outweighs everything else and allow my actions to prove it? this is where my heart lies now. figuring out what’s too much. it’s so easy for me to say “yes, Lord i know i need you more. i know i don’t need to watch the bachelorette (especially since it contradicts everything about you) or look at another cooking blog, but it’s fun.”
fact of the matter: we, as a society (including me and you), put way too much of our value in this external world. in people. in our job. in school. in our spouses. in achievement. in love. in the future.
fact of that matter: it’s always been in Jesus’ hands and it will be forevermore.
so, when is enough, enough? where do you draw the line?