Stuff can make life easier in some ways. However, in other ways, living with less is refreshing. Sometimes it means the water is absent, and we are sweaty and dirty. I remember the first few times we were without water in the house, and one of those times Abambo came in with alarm across his face and asked if we had drinking water. I told him that we did; he brightened and he said that was good. What was important was that we had clean drinking water. It can be refreshing when important things in life are put in their proper place.
Clutter can get in the way of life happening, especially if you let it pile up all over the place. It can cover up the things that are most important.
Unfortunately, our world is filled up with too much extra stuff. All of the stuff can get in the way. It can obstruct us from what we really value. For this reason, I have spent time reading about how to simplify my life so that I can really have focus. Richard Foster’s Freedom of Simplicity is one of the texts that I think about as I continue to wrestle with this issue. I think about Jesus, and how the Bible speaks to the fact that He had to go away to be alone with God. To be removed from the stuff of this earth and get focus. Sometimes even the work we feel called to can become cumbersome. Sometimes when we fill our lives up with the stuff, we are pulled away from God, or our lives pull others away. The people we care about can get distracted too.
Even though it can be frustrating not to have some of the stuff that makes us feel happier, or comfortable, or entertained—being here has been refreshing in that life is less cluttered. It has been really great to focus on the people around me. Rather than spend my time being entertained, or pampered or comfortable, I have had time to spend with people. When the electricity is out, we often go and sit outside and chat and laugh with the Masinas. Although the mosquitoes might be biting my ankles, or my nose might get a little sunburned, what is important is the fellowship that is happening among us.
It seems that when life gets messed up or difficult here, we don’t go rushing to our magazines, television shows, piles of unopened mail, video games, chocolate sundaes, or filet mignon, rather we go to our people. Some of us also go to our God, Creator of all that is and ever will be, Savior, Redeemer, Merciful, Compassionate, Comforter. In disaster and brokenness, I go to my people: my family, and friends who love me. I know that when I am in the midst of a storm, I turn to God in prayer. Because all those other things are not going to redeem, whatever situation I find myself in.
A question I have heard countless times, if you’re house was burning down, what would you grab on your way out the door? I know for me, I would get the people out first, and then maybe grab a few things like my Bible, photos, and journal. Those are the things that connect me to what I value.
Shouldn’t our days be filled with what we really value? What do you fill your days with? Is it the clutter or those things that bring us closer to the people we love?