“The world cannot afford the American dream.” -Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

Today a woman named Lauren took a heavy crystal bowl off my front porch.  She left three pairs of shorts for Isaiah.  It was sheer Freecycling joy.  I didn’t know if I should give away my bowl.  It was a wedding present from my cousin, after all.  But then, I can’t remember using it… ever.  I tried to sell it on a couple garage sales, but there were no takers.

On Thursday, the Salvation Army truck will pull up to our house and take a box full of clothes.  I hope they go to people who will wear them, people who need them more than I do.  I want to tell you how few clothes hang in my closet now, but I still ask myself if there are too many when I read what John the Baptist said: “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise” (Luke 3.11).  I have more than two coats.  I have at least five.

So I let my bowl go.  I let go of a lamp and a pair of shoes.  I let go of some dressy skirts.  I like the skirts, but I have other dressy things to wear.  I wonder to myself if I can go one year without buying clothes for myself.  I wonder if I would have the courage to wear my clothes until they wear out.  I want to learn to value the things I own.

Over the weekend, Isaiah broke my glasses.  I left them on the coffee table, and he brought them to me in two pieces, saying “da-tsuss?”  The look on his face said, “Uhh… what happened?”  I know normal American people go to get new glasses when old ones break.  And I probably will, too, because my husband thinks I should.  But my vision isn’t seriously impaired; it’s only a mild astigmatism.  I squint at the computer screen, and I can’t read faraway signs in the grocery store.  But I can get by.

I ask myself if my trying to get by with less brings glory to God, if that’s what He had in mind for our generation of Christ-followers.  I can prove to the world any day that I can survive without frivolities, but God didn’t ask me to gloat in simple living.  A thankful rich person may know God better than a proud pauper.

As I sorted through our clothes yesterday, I kept finding worn-out jeans — holes in the knees, a seat of the pants worn too thin.  Kyle’s grandma used to make quilts for her grandsons from the fabric of old jeans.  So I cut up the pants, hoping to do the same.  We have Kyle’s denim quilt already, but I told myself it would be nice to have one that fits the bed better.  We could decorate Isaiah’s room with cowboy decorations; it’d be swell.  There are moments I just want to be normal again, when I wish I could just stop worrying about whether I’m doing the right thing by the rest of the world.  But then I asked myself if I ought to make the quilt for someone else — maybe for the children benefited by Project Linus.  We have a quilt already, after all.  And if anyone has two quilts…

My pile of fabric taunts me from the top of the piano.

  1. “There are moments I just want to be normal again, when I wish I could just stop worrying about whether I’m doing the right thing by the rest of the world.”

    I hear you. But you’re right — it’s about loving people in the world, about being Jesus to them. And we can’t stop thinking about that.

    • matches
    • June 17th, 2008

    i feel your pain. i can’t run the water from the faucet without thinking about my grand scheme to catch water to water the lawn with. And I live in a big house that we are itching to move out of because it is more than we need. And we have so many toys and so many things I am always putting stuff out at the end of my driveway with a free sign.

    Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t think about the water i use, the food i waste. It drives me crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My coworkers think I’m nuts for hauling off all the paper at work, plastics at work, and cans. But I don’t have a choice. She has given me life and has given me joy and I love her. And once you fall in love with mother earth, you can’t go back.

  2. Matches — Good, good comment. I totally agree. I know people think I’m weird, too, for caring about it all. But I can’t not care.

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