“As I grew older the things I cared about grew fewer, but were more important… Things! Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful fire! More room in your heart for love, for the trees! For the birds who own nothing—the reason they can fly.” Mary Oliver
This quote resonates within my heart more and more, with each passing day. Throughout my life, I have accumulated many things, most of which I do not need. I am quite certain that we have all heard the phrase, “money can’t buy you happiness”. I dare say that it can. I have bought numerous things which have brought a smile to my face, and contentment to my heart. When I look around at all that I possess, and my heart starts to feel burdened. It is not the things themselves, but why I have acquired them that makes my heart ache.
If I’m being honest, the reason I have most of these things is pride. I grew up not having a lot of things. Much of what I had was hand-me-downs, and things I shared with my siblings. As I grew older, I bought whatever I wanted with the money that I had earned. It felt like freedom! I would constantly rotate my bathroom and bedroom decor as my tastes changed with the seasons. I would buy books and knick knacks just for decoration. Designer handbags and shoes, Sephora makeup, and expensive perfumes, because why not?! I had the money, and no one else was there to spoil me. It was the game of never enough. What once felt like freedom, began to feel like a prison. I felt chained to my possessions. I couldn’t possibly let them go; I had worked so hard for them!
As my home became a place of storage for stuff, my heart became a place of storage for pride and discontentment. And it’s just a burden I don’t want to carry anymore. I cannot take any of these things when I leave, so why do I need them now? I am not saying it is wrong to buy things, but I have come to a place where I want to have a pure heart when it comes to what I have and why I have it. What are my motives when I am looking at all the pretty things I can purchase? Am I actually in need of it? Am I discontent and bored with what I have? Do I think others will think better of me for having it?
“A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away.” Ecclesiastes 3:5-6
The more I give these things away, the more I understand that what I think is mine is not meant for me alone. Whether it is things, money, or time, if what I can give will bring joy to someone else, then giving is what I will do. My pastor once said that “people are the true riches of heaven”. I love that. We cannot take our earthly possessions with us when we die. What we can do, is show love to the world around us by being generous with what we have been given. When we are generous, it breaks down the walls of our pride as we see a need greater than our own, and seek to meet that need.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Each one of us has something to give, and it is not about quantity, but quality–the nature in which we give. If you have ever been in need of anything, you know that even the smallest gift is precious in that moment.
Being generous might mean sharing more of our time with family, friends, or even strangers instead of staring at our phones. It could be giving food to the homeless, or helping our next door neighbor. We can sponsor a child in need every month (Compassion International is wonderful), instead of buying coffee 3-4 times a week (make it at home y’all). We can donate all those books we have already read and the movies we have seen 15 times, or the outfit we wore only once because somehow it looked better when we tried it on in the store (that lighting makes everything look cute, I’m telling you).
To show love will always require a sacrifice, but it is so worth it. Each and every time I have withheld when I knew it was in my power to give, I walked away with nothing but guilt and pride. The times where I have chosen to stop and meet the need of someone (even someone I may never even meet), I walked away not the poorer. I walked away with joy and love in my heart. Now that I can take with me when I am gone.