As the saying goes…the first step to recognizing you have a problem is to admit it. And I have a problem, with too much. I have too much of nearly everything…except space.
I have lived in a 396 square foot studio apartment for well over 13 years. As I look around, it’s not hard to see that I have too much. Too much for this space, definitely. Comparatively to other Americans, I may have little; but I cannot compare myself only to Americans…I’ve travelled too much. I’ve slept on the hard ground of an elementary school in Mexico where we helped fix bicycles for people who had no other transportation, and unlike here…they just couldn’t go to the store to buy a new one. I’ve been to Thailand, where I was invited into shacks with dirt floors; and a motorbike and pig share the corner with the straw mat where Grandma sleeps.
In each of these instances I came home feeling like the richest person on Earth. My tiny apartment suddenly felt like the lap of luxury. My eyes had been opened to how much I had. And then slowly, over the years, I reacclimated to American life, and I began to see only what I didn’t have. What I needed more of. I started asking God, “Why do they get that, and I’m stuck with this? How is this fair? I work hard. I paid off my debts. I tithe my 10% and even give beyond that. Why am I still scraping by?” I became lax in my diligence. I allowed things to accumulate. I allowed debt back into my life. I became surrounded by excess. Oh no, it might not look like the excess of the uber-rich. I don’t have a solid gold toilet seat or a diamond-studded collar for my dog; but I have far more than I need to survive. I have so many options it’s astounding. And I’ve tried to squirrel away far more than I should.
I’ve started a new study called “The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess”, by Jen Hatmaker. Is it weird that I’m excited? I think a part of me knows it’s time. That I’m not who I should be because of all of this…excess. The study encourages you to fast, for a week at a time, in 7 different areas (food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress). The purpose: to allow God to show you your blind spots.
When I first read the concept, a part of me railed against it. The idea of eating only 7 foods for a week, wearing only 7 clothing items for a week, getting rid of 7 possessions a day for a week, eliminating media devices from my life for a week, etc….some of those things made me pause. Do I really want to do this? What if it turns out I don’t have enough stuff to give away 7 things a day? I got sick in Thailand from eating the same food 3 times a day, what if 7 food items isn’t enough variety for me? But as I was watching the intro video I realized…anything I’m afraid of restricting or doing without…is probably something I’ve allowed to become an idol in my life. If I’m more afraid of doing without it than I am of missing out on what God wants to show me…then I really, truly, deeply need to do this. And this is only for a week for each area. It’s not the 30 days for each area that the author and her family did. I can do this. I know I can.
In fact, it may be too easy. And I don’t want it to be. I don’t want this to be about accomplishing the goal of 1 week. I don’t want to do it just to check it off my list. I don’t want it to be strictly about eliminating excess and uncluttering my life. Those are great things, yes; but those aren’t the reason why God is calling me to this fast. He wants to show me something, a blind spot; and I don’t want to miss it. So I will do it for as long as it takes to see what He means for me to see. And you are my witnesses on this journey. The ones who, by knowing you are reading this, will keep me on the path, seeking what I am meant to find. I’m not asking you to do it with me, just to make sure I’m still going…until I’ve seen all that He wants me to, and I’ve gone the 7 weeks. Are you with me?