Maggi Dawn's comments today are right on target, as usual. She writes about the difficulties of the Christmas season. If you don't read the Rev. Dr. Dawn, add her to your blog read list. You can find her at http://maggidawn.blogspot.com/. It's odd how important some people are to my daily journey but I cannot invite them to dinner, chat with them on the phone or go see a movie with them. I feel as if I know Maggi from reading her blog although the "relationship" is one-sided. She offers, I take and I cannot return the gift. The blogsphere connects us but isn't always reciprocal. I read her but seldom, if ever, comment. I am so thankful that she takes the time to write her blog. She makes a difference in my life. I commend her to you.
Today I should finish my weeks long "heave out" of my house. Not only am I preparing for Christmas guests, I am trying a new thing for me. I collect stuff with great relish. I like digging through other people's stuff at tag sales, church rummage sales, garage sales and estate sales. I have been known to stop and examine curbside piles and found a great rug for my study once while my passenger was hollering, "YOU AREN'T GOING TO DIG THROUGH GARBAGE WITH ME IN THE CAR!" It happens. People toss out usable things all the time. I've furnished my home with stuff I've bought on the cheap or found. I've given stuff to my pals who asked for it. I clothe myself and my children with .25 stuff. And, we look ok although the "looking like a bag lady" comment of my younger sister's oldest sister haunts me.
About two months ago, in a Church School class, the teacher was discussing how the woman washing Jesus' feet with her tears and drying his feet with her hair was an outlandish gesture. I began to speculate on what kind of over the top actions we in the class could take on. The woman who annointed Jesus' feet with expensive perfume was so deeply grateful for Him that she put aside convention and reticence to show her love for Him. What could we do which would be similar?
I am not suggesting that what I am going to tell you is on the same level as what she did. However, as my mind worked around outlandish gestures, I asked myself, "what would it be like for you to give away a majority of the stuff you have?" Frightening thought for me since I like surrounding myself with things. 8 complete sets of dishes, too many pots and pans, stuff-stuff-stuff. I began to pray about this idea of simply giving the things away. We have several charity shops here which need to make money (Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries). I didn't want to sell the things, just give them away. Now, for those of you who aren't following my train of thought (and you will be legion) the issue of giving things away is a trust issue. Do I trust the Lord to provide for me if I give my things away?
I think trusting God is my biggest issue of faith. I work on this all the time. Pray about it, think about it and make myself practice trusting God even though the act goes against my willfulness.
I began to borrow the LH's larger car and load the car to the brim with stuff. I would take and area of our home, go through the stuff and make piles to give away. After I carted the stuff to the charity shop, I would return and do the same area again. Before you think I was just "cleaning up" remember that I can tolerate owning fourteen mixing bowls very well. I took the stuff as soon as I could get it out of the house. No looking back. The first four heaves made me anxious. I decided to push on until it felt like nothing special to give away stuff I like and felt I needed. I kept going. If my mind wandered to such interior whining as why would poor people need Le Cruset cookware, china and crystal, I told myself to "hush". Why not have those things for anyone? Why not have a great big pot for cooking? Give it away.
And so, the Salvation Army and the Goodwill staff know me by name. They look amazed that I am driving up with even more stuff to give, week after week.
How do I feel? What difference does how I feel make? I feel as though I am practicing trust which feels as awkward to me as it always does.
The best I ever felt about trusting God was when I had to hour-by-hour mentally hold Jesus' hand during a horrifically bad time for my family. I told God that I had no imagination, no prediction about how our horror would be resolved but that like Jacob I was going to hold on to His hand until He blessed me. I was not going to let go even if holding on made no sense whatsoever. I held on, by God's grace and was blessed.
That's all for now. One more area to heave waits for me.