Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Paper blinds

When Brandon and I bought our first house, we had paper blinds. Yes, paper window blinds. They were these "accordion" style blinds and you could cut them to fit any size window that you needed. Gotta love Wal-mart! While we lived in that house, I so badly wanted new blinds. "Gosh, people must walk by and think we're trash or something because we don't even have real blinds" I would think to myself. "Oh my, I don't want to have ANYONE over for fear that they'll realize our blinds are being held up with chip clips!"
How silly of me to think that! Why I was so obsessed with the fact that we did not have real blinds was beyond me. After all, these served their purpose just fine; they kept the light and prying eyes out of our living room. What was the big deal?
My attitude was the big deal. I was obsessed with getting new blinds, I wanted them so badly. It sounds silly to be so consumed with something so stupid, but I was. I was so concerned about what others would think about my silly blinds that it was my focus until we moved.
So when we moved to a new house, pretty white blinds were on the priority list. I didn't care, nothing was standing in my way...I was buying the damn blinds. We were living fairly affluently; God had blessed Brandon with a fantastic job making plenty of money, and the stuff began piling in. Then...something happened:

Go to now, rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
James 5:1-3

Brandon had been laid off. It was a devastating experience; it happened the day after our anniversary and just a few days before we were to go on a vacation to Las Vegas. Talk about a fun ruiner! Suddenly, all the riches that we had accumulated brought about feelings of contempt and disgust. I *hated* all the stuff we had. Slowly, things started to make sense. If we had not bought this, or that, or if I had not been so concerned with what people thought (which drove me to buy all this "stuff") then we'd be in a MUCH better situation than where we were. The lay-off was probably inevitable, but if we had been more careful about our resources that God had blessed us with, we would NOT have been so scared to lose everything we had. It was like God was slapping us in the face saying "You idiots. Look at what you've done with all that I have blessed you with. You've squandered it away accumulating treasure on Earth; your focus is no longer where it should be: ON ME!" I actually appreciate The Message translation to the above scripture because it uh, well, read for yourself:

And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You'll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you've piled up is judgment. 

How is that for a nice, heaping pile of reality? "Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut". Now *that* is profound. Greed and cancer seem to go hand-in-hand, at least for me. Greed is very much like a cancer in my life, it spreads like wildfire. Jealousy should be added in there too. I was jealous of my neighbors for their nice blinds...meanwhile there's little ol' me with the paper blinds held up with chip clips. I never once thought about how much their blinds cost, or how hard they might have worked for them, or how they might even admire MY simplicity. Meanwhile, here in our current house, greed had spread like wildfire. I was so greedy that I bought whatever I wanted without thinking of the implications that would have on the future.
In starting Flylady, a major point in her program is to de-clutter. Some people might find it difficult to go around once a week and find 27 things to give away or throw away, but not me! We have SO MUCH STUFF that since the beginning of the year, ARC has made three stops (with another one coming tomorrow) and has taken away probably about 30 large garbage bags full of clothes, toys, and stuff that we had just sitting around; junk that had accumulated when I was so concerned with having stuff. Getting rid of the stuff is actually slightly therapeutic, and in a funny way, I feel like I'm redeeming myself and "righting" my wrongs that I committed a few years ago.After all, He does want us to be willing to give up everything for Him.
I was doing a reading this morning when something clicked: We can turn *anything* in to our own God. Whether it be money, "stuff", or new blinds, anything can grab our attention and take the place of the One who matters. And I'll leave you with the reading that inspired me to write this entry:

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free form the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.  Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
Psalm 73:2-9


* IF you want even more of an idea how we felt, read Ecclesiastes 2:4-11. That pretty much sums it up as well!