Tonight I said, “Ok, Papa. I’m ready. Do it. I know it’s going to hurt, but go ahead. I want more of you. I want less of this.”
If you’ve been reading recently, you know that my heart has been burdened with affluence and my American-ness and wondering how to make my life more like “they left their nets (life, income, everything that they had) and followed him,” and less like the American Dream.
I can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t go through my day without thinking about how there must be more to knowing God than church on Sunday morning and comfortable Bible studies.
There is more. I’ve been learning recently that more comes when there is less. People in the world who have less things are the ones who see God more easily. Heroes from the Bible who have burned all of their belongings, dropped their nets, and sold all of their possessions — they are the ones who find fullness in their lives. And I believe they are the ones whom Christ talks about when he says, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
I don’t think a full life is about how much stuff we have. That’s the American Dream. And I don’t think a full life comes with how many friends we have or how many things we accomplish on our bucket lists. Those are probably other American Dreams, but they are not signs of a full life. A full life is one that is lived fully and completely for Jesus Christ.
Does my life look like that? I hope it does. I strive for that. It is my greatest desire (most days).
I like what C.S. Lewis says:
Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.
And Jim Elliot:
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
So, tonight I made up my mind. I’m purging. I’m getting rid of things I don’t need. I’m in the middle of it and had to just sit down for a minute because I’m so overwhelmed. I like to get rid of things — things that I don’t need and haven’t used in years. But what about those shoes that I wore last week, but only wear a few times a year and don’t actually need? I can keep those, right? I thought this might be hard.
And of course, I’m a collector. I have every movie ticket from every movie I’ve ever seen in theatres. I have 3 shoe boxes full of little mementos from different times in my life — things that I rarely every look at. I have forgotten where most of them came from. I have collections of coins, paper (yes, paper… many years ago I used to scrapbook), scarves, pictures, post cards, notes from high school and college classes that I enjoyed, and most embarrassing of all — way too many mementos from places I’ve been, including candy wrappers, airplane napkins, travel itineraries, etc. I know. I know.
The hardest one is South Africa. You mean, I have to get rid of those memories, Papa? He tells me, “No. You don’t have to get rid of those memories. But yes, those things that you are holding on to… those things that don’t matter… that you never look at… the garbage, yes, you need to get rid of that.”
Ok, Papa. As I throw away wrappers of airplane peanuts and South African peanut MM’s along with all those napkins and a mint (yes, a packaged mint from The Spur), my Papa is cleaning out the junk in my heart.
He’s telling me what I need and what is no longer necessary. “You can have those memories, Hannah Ruthie. You can keep those moments of joy. But give me that burden of feeling like you aren’t enough, and while you’re at it, let me carry that burden of uncertainty. It’s not necessary. Throw away those feelings of guilt and toss out those ugly thoughts of I’m not pretty enough, I’m not a good teacher, I’m not a good friend. You are beautiful, baby girl, so let me take what you don’t need.”
I’m good at holding on. I hold on for dear life. It’s impossible for me to let go.
Tonight my Papa told me, “It’s ok, baby girl.” And I’m taking a step of faith. I’m believing him. And I’m letting go.
Take away these things I don’t need from my life and from my heart. Take it all, Papa. I want more of you and less of this.
I challenge you to be bold today. Give him your things, give him your heart, give him your life. Whatever you’ve been keeping was never yours to begin with.
Don’t make excuses. Don’t wait.
What do you need to give to God?