Two weeks ago we had a yard sale. Well, technically we had another Hipster Yard Sale. A Hipster Yard Sale is like a normal yard sale except 90% of the people who come are wearing skinny jeans and buying previously loved walk in love. shirts. These sales are awesome and we've had a bunch of them over the years.
But, this Hipster Yard Sale was different than previous ones. It might have looked the same - lots of stuff on tables, from Brooke and I, for people to come and buy. Lots of walk in love. shirts, sweatshirts, housewares and knick-knacks.
To really see the difference you would have had to rewind about two months before the yard sale actually happened. 2015 has been a pretty incredible year for Brooke and I and it's not even over! Our daughter June made her entrance into this big , beautiful world in February and ever since that moment we've been making lots of big life changes. Just to name a few, we finally decided to end our seven year career of shooting weddings and focus solely on walk in love. We decided to try to cut back on the amount of media, Netflix and TV we watch so we can have family time. And about two months ago, we decided that we didn't need all the stuff we had.
So, we started cleaning it out. And I don't mean that we took 3 or 4 old shirts that we didn't wear as much out of our closet. We took 30-40 shirts out of our closet. Each. We gutted our house, well mostly Brooke gutted it, but I was still kind of involved! We just felt like, as followers of Jesus, we had too much stuff. And it's not that having "lots of stuff" makes you a bad Christian or anything of the sorts. But, for us, it was too much. It was taking up too much valued space in our little home, and even more valuable space in our hearts and minds. It needed to change.
We kept asking the question, if God calls us to move or to go somewhere or to do something radical, would we be ready? Or would we be weighed down with all this stuff in our house?
Brooke and I aren't hoarders by any means and actually we are naturally pretty ruthless when it comes to cleaning things out. We believe that the item is not the memory, but the memory is the memory. We can be pretty un-nostalgic while cleaning. But, even with that attitude we felt like our house was always cluttered, shoved-full and wearing on us.
We kept saying to each other less stuff means more room for Jesus. I know that might sound silly to you, but what if it's true? What if Jesus calls us to a simple lifestyle because it will give Him more room to work and move in our lives. I don't see any points in scripture where it says, "Make sure you hold onto all your crap with all your might because that's when God moves." In fact the opposite is stated by Jesus when he tells the young ruler to "Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor." Jesus is constantly talking about humility and He only ended with the clothes on His back when H
I once heard Frances Chan say something to the affect of that he is always so surprised that older people don't have less stuff. He is shocked that when they are knowingly so close to death, that they are holding on to so many things from the earth.
Shouldn't we be less attached to this world when we are so close to our actual home?
Imagine if we did the opposite. Imagine if we constantly got rid of our excess, and then some, so that God could have more space in our lives. What would that look like?
For about two weeks Brooke and I have been living with about 1/2 of the stuff that we use to have. (And we still have more to clean out!) And guess what? We don't miss any of it! In fact, we are so happy that it is gone. Our house, and in turn our lives, feel lighter, happier and actually fuller. We feel freedom from stuff and a joy in knowing that our stuff doesn't define who we are, Jesus does. Our house takes less time to clean, which gives us more time for Jesus, family and interacting. Everything we actually use is so much easier to find, which removes a lot of frustration about where something is or where to put it away. We have room to display and look at the things that actually mean a lot to us. It's so much more fun living in our house than it was two weeks because we have less, not more.
If I would have read a post about getting rid of my stuff even just a year ago, I would have become very defensive. I would have justified to myself that I actually need everything I own and that I worked hard to buy all my things and they are mine. I would have said that "I am not like the rich young ruler so Jesus can't be talking to me." I am good with the amount I have. I would have tried to justify myself while reading the entire post.
And maybe that is you right now. Maybe you are reading this and thinking "Ugh, this T.J. guy is so dumb and I don't know how to even pronounce his last name... what does he know? He makes it sound so easy.."
And for us it was probably easier than most because Brooke and I have always had a knack for cleaning out, but it still was hard at times. But we kept coming back to this idea - Does this item define who I am or does Jesus? If I lost this item, would I lose my identity? The answer is always a resounding, "NO!" Your identity is in Jesus and if it's not, let's make that happen! (Put your trust in Him!) And once Jesus takes care of who you are, your stuff matters a whole lot less. Stuff is replaced by love, peace, joy and all the good things that come from God.
So, if you are arguing with me in your head, start small. Just throw out (or donate) some stuff. Start with really old clothes or something you really don't need. Donate it somewhere and see how that makes you feel. My guess is a lot better. Keep going, keep pushing. End your life as a grayed-haired-Jesus-follower who has nothing but Jesus. And your clothes, because you can't walk around naked. We can't take anything with us to Heaven when we die. And why would we even want to? Heaven has all we need.
When I think about the end of my life I don't think that I want to end with a giant house, a boat and a gold toilet. I think that I want to end knowing that I lived for Jesus and am ending with Him and Him alone. Physically getting rid of my crap is helping me realize more and more that I don't need any of it. I just need Jesus. If my house burned down and my business went under, I would be okay. I still have the Savior of the world, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I have Jesus - and that is absolutely more than enough for me.