Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Full house, empty heart

Are we filling our houses and closets because our hearts and hands are empty?

On a recent - and rare - trip to the mall, I was astonished at all the shoppers. Part of my surprise was because I mostly shop online, so shopping is not a social activity or regular part of my routine. When I do get to a store, I browse or stream past 'stuff' until something catches my eye, if I try it on it's "Quick quick," is it "Yes or no?", and out we go. A quick look at the sale rack, and I'm usually done.

It seems like a lot of consumers disagree. I remember when my mom shopped regularly, bringing home clothes and goodies for all of us. She found it a pleasure, a diversion away from housework and a passel of children.

Meanwhile, our household has too much stuff already, and that has spoiled the fun of mall-cruising for me. Plus,  Craigslist, Woot, Freecycle, and lots of other places let others' excess and cast-offs become our new-found treasures.

I've always found it ironic that most of us work so hard to pay for our stuff that we don't have time for company. No one enjoys our beautiful accumulations with us or benefits from our specialty kitchen (or garage) gadgets. The Crate & Barrel catalog is not the only series of rooms without people in them!

I had to wonder, walking past hundreds carrying shiny plastic bags and new, unopened cardboard boxes, "Is this making us happy? Are we depending on the stuff when we're hoping for substance?"

Talking to a good friend today, we marveled at how differently our priorities and lives might be ordered if we were following Jesus with undivided hearts, souls, minds, and strength... and in a non-consumer culture. Our houses might be smaller. Our closets less crowded. Perhaps I would have bought less teacups and less picture frames, and used the money for eternal priorities.

Now that it's here, what should we do with what we've got? Your suggestions are welcome!!! 

Read more:
*Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore! Psalm 105:1-4 NKJV

 *Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. Proverbs 12:11 NLT

*Wealth is a crown for the wise; the effort of fools yields only foolishness. Proverbs 14:24 NLT

*So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT


  1. Thought about your title a bit. Wouldn't the antithesis be, "Empty house, full heart"? Naturally the result of someone storing his treasures elsewhere...

    God bless, Richie


  3. Ah, the tyranny of things. Ah, our society's headlong rush after them. Ah, the lessons we refuse to learn. "Our lives are frittered away by detail; simplify, simplify" advises Thoreau. Yet much as I can wrap my mind around this, my fingers maintain a tight grip. Vows of poverty seem most attractive when taken by someone other than me.

  4. So true, Bryn... I feel sometimes like while God is prying the last finger open, my thumb has already closed back up.

    Richie, I don't think it's either/or. I don't think emptying the house necessarily fills the heart. Though it can be a wonderful and symbolic discipline of what we value and are working on. I think filling the house RATHER than the heart can be counterproductive.