I had always secretly hated sermons on stewardship. I knew the Bible taught that all of our possessions were Gods and we were only stewards of them, but a big side of me didn't like it. I wanted the money and things I had worked for to be all about me, and not about God. However, I became more and more convicted that living like this wasn't God's best and was not pleasing to him. So, in April of 2014, my husband and I took a good look at our possessions and made some radical decisions to live like our possessions were Gods, not ours. We had a 3 bedroom house, basically as full as it could be, with clothes, electronics, furniture, etc. We owned a car, an SUV, a motorcycle and 2 bicycles. We both love crafts and hobbies, so we had various boxes filled with paints, yarn, modeling supplies, scrapbooking materials, and many other well-intended projects. There were boxes and boxes of books that I had great intentions of reading, and the list continues. We took a good look around, and it felt suffocating. Compared to many Americans, we lived in a small house and had meager belongings, most of our furniture was cheap or free, and most of our 3 closets full of clothing had come from second hand stores. However, the sheer volume of it was unsettling to us.
So, we sold it all.
We sold everything except what would fit in our cars, put these few boxes in storage at our parents house and then, we sold the cars.
I realize that this is drastic, and our giant purge was made easier by moving halfway across the world, but still, the perspective that we gained was invaluable. And, looking back almost 2 years later, I don't regret purging any of it.
As we have made some necessary purchases in our new life overseas, we have tried to keep them at a minimum and think about what things we really need. Owning less stuff frees up your life so many ways. First of all, it frees up your time. One example of this is our choice to live without a car. While I realize it is not practical for each of you to function without a vehicle, Ive found going vehicle-free to be a very freeing and positive experience. I don't spend time, or money, filling my car up with gas, getting it detailed each month, buying tires, rotating tires, etc. I can invest this time and money I am saving in the kingdom, rather than in maintaining my earthly possessions. It frees up time that I can invest in my relationship with God, my husband and my daughter. It frees up valuable time I can spend doing ministry and sharing life with the women I serve.
It frees up money to give away for Jesus. Buying less stuff obviously costs less money. Spending less money means that we can give more away. We can help hurting people in practical ways by meeting their physical needs. We can support missionaries serving in various parts of the world. Also, we can afford to take vacations to exotic places and spend quality time making memories as a family because we are living below our means.
Through owning less and buying less, we are learning to be better stewards of the money that God has given us, and we are truly learning that “every good and perfect gift is from above,” because in the end, none of the things I have are about me anyway.
Pssst.... this post is apart of the 5th Annual Not About Me November Series. Check the rest of the posts out here.
Melanie and her husband Joel live and do ministry in Bangkok, Thailand. She is mommy to baby Claire and a graduate of Denver Seminary with a degree in Intercultural Ministry. She enjoys traveling, reading and discussing theology, and spending time with her family and friends. She loves the adventure that comes with living every day in another culture.
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