We have this saying we recite frequently in our house, “Stuff is just stuff.” It stems from our belief that our greatest treasure is Jesus, nothing else. There’s a fine line between taking care of the things we’ve been given and treasuring them above Jesus, and that’s the constant balancing act we make as we try our best to guide and teach our 3 little ones.
Stuff is just stuff.
Our church small group is most often held in our home, and that statement is the greatest thing we can tell the kids when their rooms are left “happily played-in.” We teach them that we find joy in sharing our home and life with people, with human souls, created by the same God who created and captured ours. We view our home and everything in it as “stuff” God is using as fertile soil for genuine relationships to grow. These precious people are God’s grace gifts to us, well above our possessions.
We frequently use our fancy dishes, and in fact, just used them this morning for our breakfast. I rather break a piece of my great Grandmother’s china because it has been used for a hundred tea parties of goldfish crackers and raisins, candlelight dinners per the kids’ request, and mid-day peanut butter sandwiches rather than display an unused, complete set of china in my glass cabinets. I think she would like to know we are using the china, too. We are freed when “stuff is just stuff.”
I’ve watched my husband say it with clenched jaw after one of our children dropped and cracked the iPad that he daily used for work and home. I was so proud of him, as I knew that meant an immediate, expensive bill. It’s easier to say that statement to our kids, referring to their stuff than in times when it’s our personal (especially expensive) possessions that have been damaged.
Here’s what God has continued to teach us. All we are given, material and otherwise, is a call to sacrifice, a test of whether or not our hearts can offer it back up. Can we really be ok if the iPad breaks? Can we really be ok if our home is worn and the walls are colored on? Can we really be ok if a child feels called to the mission field or military? Can we really be ok if we become like Job, and all we really have is Jesus?
A couple days ago, my phone was taken. I left it in my cart at Target, and long story short, we went through the process of trying to retrieve it through multiple ways, and…no phone. I really could care less about the phone. I’ve never been the one who HAS to have the latest gadget. I just miss the photos/videos of my family and various mom-to-kid silly conversations I wrote down in my phone “notes” when paper was unavailable. But, stuff is just stuff, right? That’s what I told my kids with every bit of my heart sinking into my chest.
Photos are just photos. Conversations are just conversations. That’s what I voiced…but my heart screamed that I’d give the thief my phone in a heartbeat if I could have sec to back up all the memories on my computer.
In the deepest caverns of my heart, I recognized an idol. When Christ said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me,” I packed a suitcase filled with memories, my family, and sentimental feelings. But “denying myself” is recognizing Jesus is greater than anything, even good things like the blessing of a husband who loves me well and children who make me proud. Denying myself is leaving the “suitcase” in the dust because Christ needs nothing added to Him to make Him more wonderful.
As I sit here and type near my Christmas tree and stockings “hung with care,” I’m conscious of the myriad of things we treasure during the holidays. My kids treasure the gifts under the tree (just being real), and I treasure waking up early (but not too early), making a big Christmas breakfast and drinking wassail, reading the Christmas story and taking 200 photos during the course of the day so I won’t forget a single moment (at least for now).
I have no shame in loving this sweet season of life with our kids. It’s good to feel blessed and thankful when my family snuggles together in Christmas pajamas and recounts all God has done this past year. Sentiment in itself is not bad when it points to the Giver of those blessings and reminds me how every bit of goodness I feel is just an outpouring of HIS grace, which I don’t deserve.
However, when “gifts” eclipse the Giver (our greatest treasure), they settle in my heart as idols. And those idols only lead to disappointment when they are taken away. My possessions may be stolen, people might come and go in this life, and my memories might fade, but Christ satisfies completely. He lasts. He never disappoints.
Friends, over the next few days especially, let’s lay down our idols at the altar and treat stuff as just stuff, not as an embellishment Jesus needs to make Him better.
- Unwanted (sometimes tacky) gifts stop bringing disappointment.
- We break out the china without fear of children damaging it.
- Our doors swing open wide to new neighbors.
- Pinterest brings inspiration rather than a pressure for perfection.
- Finding the perfect gift does not distract us from the broken human soul standing next to us in the checkout line.
- We find more value in the character of God than what He gives us.
That’s when we recognize the truth that our perfect Gift, Jesus Christ, is exalted, and all other things pale in comparison. HE is our treasure. HE is our great Reward. Let’s remember and exalt Him together!
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21