God is working on me in big round numbers this year. Emphasis on BIG and Round. Most of them have zeros, my running goal has a lot of zeroes. I think of it only in single digit increments right now. It’s just easier that way. Anyway, last year I purposed at one point to whittle my belongings down to 100 things. See? Big number, lots of zeroes, only not so big when talking about things that I own, and use. I never did get around to that level of minimalism, I blame my brother getting cancer. I’ve had seventeen years of practice, so I can blame pretty much anything on cancer at this point. But lately that number, 100, and that concept, narrow it down, narrow it down further, narrow it down as far as I can, are back in my head and rolling around uncomfortably in my heart.
100 Things. Oy.
I’ve been sold on the concept of minimalism for over a year now. It’s changed how I look at culture, church, education, marriage, parenting, everything, radically. And we’re blind to it. I’ve been blind to it, because I’m immersed in a world that screams the opposite message. Immersed in a culture that teaches that we need the right education from the right schools so we can get the right high paying job to drive the right cars and buy the right starter house, and then the right bigger house and the right vacation house. We have to wear the right things and play the right sports and even take part in the right recreation and vacation spots. Oh, and what defines “right” in this scenario is trend and price tag. What’s right today won’t be so right next year so we’ll have replace what we already own with the next right thing so we can keep up with everyone else who is upgrading around us.
I became exhausted just writing that.
Somehow it’s become not just accepted but expected for us to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, constantly, in the name of home ownership, higher education and keeping our children popular and entertained. It’s the most ridiculous circus ever invented, and we are all vying for the most show stopping act.
We worship the god of stuff. We’re literally sacrificing our lives to it. We go to work to buy the things we can’t use or enjoy because we’re so tired from working so hard to pay for the stuff. We’re bleeding ourselves dry to maintain an image that makes no difference to anyone but ourselves and the “god” we’ve created. It’s all smoke and mirrors in the devil’s attempt to distract us from anything remotely important, let alone the One of eternal importance.
So what is paring down to 100 things going to do change of that? Probably very little. Except that already, I see little tendrils of change growing up in the lives of people with whom I spend my life. Not because I’m good, or special, but because living this way has brought me great joy, tremendous, bountiful, wonderful freedom, and the ability to say with authority,”there is a better way.” I could probably do all of that without paring down still further, but 100 things challenges me to continue to evaluate, to peel back every layer and search every dark corner to burn out little gods that are still entrenched there. The world has enough trouble without self sabotage from within.
Yes, 100 things might be just the perfect number for this year of round numbers, biblically 10 and multiples of 10 signify completion and wholeness. I can always use a bit more of that in my life.