That Old Shirt and Abundant Living

IMG_1432 I've been cutting my wardrobe down to a capsule wardrobe (which I'll share later this week!), and in the process, I've been forced to confront my stuff again.

I often cling to clothes, and this particular wardrobe work has shown me my fears in this area. I am reluctant to get rid of clothes "in case I ever need them" in part because I don't trust myself to cull outfits. Since high school, I've been afraid of wearing the wrong thing and missing out--not deathly afraid, but it has always been clear I don't have the right fashion sense. This means that if I keep everything, maybe I'll have just the right thing when something comes into fashion.

The problem is: I know myself now (even if I'm not a fashion genius). I know what I like and what I don't like, what I wear and what hangs there lonely.

The other reason I cling to clothes is because of fear of lack. I'm afraid I won't find something I like again or that there won't be a new pair of pants to replace the ones that are wearing out.

I figured out the depth of this fear when I ordered a few new shirts. And I liked them. And they fit. And they were reasonably priced. And I finally wondered: why do I cling to holey, stained, ill-fitting shirts when I could have decent ones? I force myself to live in lack when I don't need to.

And part of it is rooted deeper. I hoard because I'm scared. I'll never find that sale again. I'll never find a shirt I like as well. I won't have enough or the right one. Things will go downhill and all I will have will be what I already have. For me, it is rooted in materialism. I value the material because I don't trust in the spiritual.

I often live like the man in the parable in Luke 12 who stores up his treasure in bigger barns and says,

"And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample good laid up for many year; relax, eat, drink, be merry."' But God said to him, "Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God" (19-21).

Right after this story, Jesus reminds them they don't have to be anxious about tomorrow or consume themselves with food or clothing. He will provide.

For me, it goes deeper still than just wanting to always have enough or have the right thing. I will keep an old shirt, clinging to the past memories of that shirt. I cling to the good of the past because I'm terrified the future won't be good. I cling to the old because I'm scared of the new. Rather than trusting--laughing at the days to come (Prov. 31:25)--I hold on tightly to the old so that at least if disaster strikes, I'll have memories of good times. I often think this is the best there's going to be. So I'm scared of each new change. And in clinging to that old shirt, I don't feel freedom (or have space!) to move on to a new, clean, better shirt. 

I read the story of manna last night. What always sticks out to me about that story is how God tells the Israelites they can only take enough for that day.

"Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat.." (Ex. 16:21).

When they try to hoard it--to gather too much--it ends up stinking: "But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them" (Ex. 16:20). It's an exercise of active trust and goes against our American tendency to stockpile. It goes against my own tendency to keep and cling and hoard.

This is why I'm letting go of my stuff. I realize there is more out there. I realize there is good to come. And I know God has met all my needs and will continue to meet them. I can live abundantly rather than stuffing every corner of my house with stuff and memories. I don't have to have a pantry bursting with extra. I don't have to cram my schedule out of fear of missing out. I don't have to be afraid of the future.

When we trust Christ, we can live in freedom and abundance rather than fear. No, there's no guarantee I won't be in hard places or experience hard times, but I trust that God will bring me my manna then. I don't have to cling to it today, trying to make it enough for tomorrow.

I would be remiss if I ended right there. After all, God does tell them to keep a jar of manna.

"Moses said, "This is what the Lord has commanded: 'Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt..." (16:32).

What functions as my jar of manna? For years, I've considered this to be my writing, my journals, and our family memory books. They remind me of God's faithfulness more than a closet full of old clothes. IMG_9082

Because of God's grace, I can live abundantly rather than hoarding, clinging, and finding my contentment (or lack thereof) in my memories and possessions. I can live in the strength he provides each day and believe that in Him, the best is yet to come.

P.S. I loved this post about getting rid of old school papers. I had a very similar experience last year!