Sharing My Stuff

Stuff has been on my mind lately. I’m amazed at how much happiness it can bring to someone. Watching my wife’s face as her bedroom gets decorated, watching my own face when I get a new camera, listening to girls talk about Ikea and guys talk about new cars, watching people at Wal Mart, watching commercials: all of it adds to my perspective on what stuff is and why it has such a hold on myself and our culture.

It has got to be unhealthy. Especially because I can upgrade my Ipod three or four times in a year and not even flinch and the other side of the world can’t even upgrade their rice dinner. If we were really honest with ourselves, do we really need everything we have? Do I really need the Culligan Water cooler, the new spice rack and every bag of M&M’s I pass (all things I can see while I’m sitting here). Do I really need to just go out and go shopping, for no other reason but to shop?

I think some of us have caught on that we have this sickness, so instead of buying less we start justifying our outings. Oh I just need this because of this and I need this because I have been thinking about doing this. Before it might have been ok to shop for no reason, but now you at least have to have some kind of reason. We are great at justifying our own actions.

I have way to much crap. I don’t need most of it, and I don’t want new stuff to upgrade my old stuff. For some reason, not wanting things just hasn’t been a good enough response to all my stuff. I buy way less than I used to, but it just wasn’t and isn’t enough. So I’ve had to take up a new practice. It’s called sharing. One of the first things I like to do when I get something new, is lend it to someone. It teaches me real fast that it’s not mine and I didn’t just buy it for me. I think sharing helps remind us of these things. So slowly I’m trying to learn to share more things and more often and hopefully use it as a discipline to break the hold that stuff has on me.

For me to own something privately and not share it I think is selfish and unchristian. We’ve convinced ourselves that if we buy something with money we earned that we don’t owe anyone and that we have entitlement to our possessions, at least before anyone else. Do we really though? Just because it exists behind closed doors that we own does that really mean that its ours to call the shots with? Or maybe if we just hide it there, maybe if I don’t tell anyone or remind anyone about my Ipod then no one will ask me for it. It is these kind of thoughts that fueled ATTIC and my dream of having everyone’s books and movies available for anyone at theStory‘s space. Hopefully though this is just the beginning.

Following Jesus I think means putting giving before receiving or preserving. We should be advertising that we as a community share to all and anything is up for grabs. If someone is in need then we should be the first ones to give of what we have (not just throw money at them every time). Whatever it is that we hold on too, may we be reminded over and over again that its not ours and we are just stewards. May we learn to share first whether it be our money, food or my Ipod.

If you haven’t seen this movie yet (The Story of Stuff) watch it right now, it’s brilliant.

4 thoughts on “Sharing My Stuff”

  1. you touch on, what i feel, is an important distinction. the distinction between shopping and buying. shopping seems to me to be based on restlessness. for example, i have an iPod, but not the *newest* iPod, so i’ll sell mine and go buy the new one.

    i don’t think there is a problem owning things. however, as you quite excellently put it, “For me to own something privately and not share it I think is selfish and unchristian.” i would agree with this, and it’s something that has really been eating away at me lately!

    Aquinas didn’t sanction private ownership either, unless of course it led to the good of all. as he put it, “man ought to possess external things, not as his own, but as common, so that, to wit, he is ready to communicate them to others in their need.”

    if you haven’t already, i might suggest checking out cavanaugh’s “being consumed: economics and christian desire.”


  2. Great quote from Aquinas Jonathan, thanks! and I’ll add that book to my reading list, it sounds great.

    I never mentally made that separation between buying and shopping like you put it, but I think you’re right on, makes a lot of sense.

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