shelf and shelfWhy do I have so much excessive crap around our apartment? I brew some coffee, turn on Pandora radio and attempt to empty yet another storage bin from under the bed or box to find ten more filled with similar items. Everywhere I look are odds and ends we’ve picked up from shopping trips, thrift shops, and free samples. Even if we haven’t paid much for these items we have become attached to them and it’s hard to part with the smallest new note pad or scrapbooking kit. Why does Dustin need ten white V neck T’s and why in the world do I have at least four pairs of Urban Outfitters gloves? How can we strive to live simply in a culture obsessed with purchasing new shiny things?

Dustin and I are a part of a community group and we are currently reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by the brilliant Jen Hatmaker. Throughout the book Jen focuses on radically changing different parts of her lifestyle and challenges the modern day Christian to look at their idea of the “American Dream” By focusing on different areas including: food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress. Focusing on these areas Jen attempts to simplify her life and allow room for God to work in and through it. As a result of studying the book Dustin and I are attempting to rid ourselves of excess possessions and have been purging our small apartment of things we don’t use, wear, or need.

BoxesIronically this week while I was enjoying my favorite magazine, Whole Living, I came across an article devoted to ridding oneself of excessiveness. Celia Barbour recounts her attempts to rid herself of sentimental items and clear her mind in the article Clutter: The Long Goodbye. Barbour explains that even though we may have space in our homes for the clutter we acquire we should be more protective of our mental space. After reading this article I found myself asking what in our home clutters our ability to invest in relationships and have a peaceful home. Is my mind cluttered because my home is?

This past month we have worked to get rid of unneeded items and prepare to move to India and travel the world. I’ve reluctantly donated about 100 books (watch as we build a fort for City Kitty with them) and about 40 articles of clothing. Dustin has contemplated ridding himself of extra computer monitors and we’ve donated house odds and ends together including picture frames, art, and spice bowls. There are mounds of stuff just laying near the door of our one room apartment ready to find new homes.

Ikea Colorful BookshelfInspired by 7, our community group is preparing to have a free garage sale for those who may need some things in our city. As pointed out by our pastor; some people may feel uncomfortable taking free items. So to empower those who may benefit from our things we will hold a garage sale that is “name the price.” We’ll accept any price suggested. I’m praying every day that the items that are excessive for us may be needed and a blessing to others. As Shane Claiborne has said: the problem in the United States isn’t that people don’t care about the poor, it’s that people don’t know the poor. Through our humble garage sale we hope to personally get to know those in the community that are underprivileged and hopefully rekindle a passion within ourselves to put others first. Wow! This sounds eerily familiar-perhaps this is what Jesus did? Keep posted for more information about our material purging and our community garage sale.

I want to challenge you to ask yourself:

What are you holding on to material-wise that is keeping your mind cluttered?

Are there belongings you own that others may benefit from having?

Are there things in this life that are pushing/pulling you away from building real community?