We live in a society that focuses on having the next best gadget, the newest car, the designer outfit, and all that the ‘rich and famous’ have in their lives. We go into debt to prove that we have successfully attained a certain life-style. Our hearts sink a little when a new cell phone comes out and it isn’t time to upgrade our plan yet. We enter beautiful homes and begin plotting how we can model our house after their home. Or, we look at others and think, “I don’t know why she wears that same outfit day in and day out. What a mess!” We have become the people of envy, greed, judgement, and hollow existence.
We have forgotten that it is living a life of giving and caring that matters far more than a life full of things that may disappear in an instance.
As I think back over the past year I realize that God has been teaching me how to live “just right.” I have renamed this blog and will be expanding it over the coming months to focus on what I call, “Just Right Living.” It has been a long journey for me to walk away from the life I write about in the opening paragraph. I spent most of my life trying to live up to the expectations of my family, friends, and neighbors; only to lose it all. And I am so grateful to be living the life that I am today—one that is not focused on who I can impress with my new clothes, my jewelry, my car, or my zip code. Without all those trappings I am free to turn my attention toward what God would want for me—peace, joy, and comfort.
I was reading Luke, Chapter 12 this morning. Jesus spoke about the measure of our lives. Our lives in the end will not be measured by our wealth or all the things we got and saved for ourselves. Our lives already have worth and value to him. He could care less if I buy a fancy new car—unless it takes away from giving and helping others. He could care less about my designer dress—unless it stands in the way of people seeing him. He could care less about my zip code—unless I am living and doing something that brings people closer to him because of where I live.
God has been pruning my life for a good long time. The short version of my story includes my journey of homes over the past 10 years as I moved from a spectacularly large home in one of the richest neighborhoods in our area. I thought I was downsizing, but really I just moved into another fancy neighborhood in which I could not afford to live. I bought into the horrible decision to live above my means and it cost me not just my home, but my family. I knew God was calling me out of these homes, but I hung onto the notion that I needed to prove my worth by the property I held. It would be another five years before I came to understand and I became willing to make the change that I heard God telling me over and over to make.
Finally, I gave it all away. I gave up the zip code house and the big yard and the vision I had for living large. I gave away most of my belongings to others in need. I packed up what I would need for a new home and then spent the next month without a home. It was one of the best months in my life. I saw the world and God in the world. I saw God in me and me in him. I saw the beauty in doing without so that I could have much more.
I am coming up on a year since I began my personal transformation toward a life inspired by the writings of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. I have been encouraged along the way in the blessings of new relationships with some incredible people. I have come out of the fog and into a new joyful light. I am still on my journey and I still struggle. I am still digging out of debt and I am still asking God how he wants to use me. Today I appear to have less because I have a more simple existence. I have less clutter and more time. I have less stress and more peace. I have less me and more God. And I have peace, and joy, and comfort for the first time I can remember.
You may not need to get rid of everything like I did. However, I encourage you today to ask: what is draining my energy and taking my time? What is taking me away from what God wants me to do? What is keeping me from even seeing or hearing what God wants me to do? What do I need to prune back today so that I will have new positive growth? How can I have less and yet have more?
“Yes a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God…Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven!…Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be…When someone is given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Luke Chapter 12.