Have you ever moved? If so, you know that it can be both exciting (hopefully) and/or stressful and tiring. If you have lived in any one place for any reasonable amount of time, once you start packing to move, you quickly realize that you have a lot more stuff than you thought. It is amazing to me how much stuff we can acquire over the years, or even in just a few short months.
About four years ago, Paul and I decided we wanted to downsize. The home that we lived in was much too big for just the two of us. We purchased a smaller home, which we liked, but that meant we had to get rid of a lot of things. But, that is what downsizing is all about, right? It was a good move. We had a ton of things that we didn’t use or need anymore. Most of it was donated to various charities and what couldn’t be used again or salvaged was trashed. It felt so freeing to get rid of so much stuff. It made me realize that less is more. Especially when it comes to physical objects. If you don’t use it regularly or just dearly love it, why keep it?
Well, after these last four years, Paul and I have realized we would like to downsize again. The older I get, the more I love the idea of having less “stuff” and less house to clean. I mean, why have three toilets to clean, when you only need and use two? Even if you don’t use all three toilets, you still have to clean them. (Ladies, I know you know what I am talking about!) Less is more. Having less stuff and less house to clean, gives you less to do, less to keep up with, and less to worry about. This, in turn, gives you more time and energy to focus on other things, and simply more freedom. Who doesn’t want that?
So, we are planning to move to a smaller home in about a year. And, we are both so looking forward to it. (Plus, this will give us plenty of time to go through everything we own and get rid of anything we no longer use. I am actually looking forward to cleaning up and cleaning out!)
(As an aside--have you ever heard of Marie Kondo? She wrote an international bestseller called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In it, Marie talks about how our belongings can be seen as beings that help us live a good, comfortable life. And just like people, things don’t like to be neglected and forgotten about. If they don’t serve you, they would be much happier to serve someone else. This approach may seem silly, but I think it makes a lot of sense. Clutter creates stress and distraction. And, don’t we all have enough of that in our lives anyway without adding more?)
Now, back to task. As I grow in my spiritual life with the Lord, I have realized that having less clutter allows me to focus more of my attention on God. And, when I say clutter, I mean both the physical things that take up space in our daily lives and the mental junk that we tend to obsess over. And, oddly enough, I have found that as I get rid of more of the physical objects, the more my mental outlook clears up as well. It is kind of funny how that works!
When we have less to worry about, less “junk” on our minds, it allows us to put our attention and focus on what is really important in this life: God, ourselves, our family, our friends, and our relationships.
I don’t know about you, but I am in love with the idea of having less to keep up with, less to clean and look after, and less to worry about. What about you? Maybe you can join me in my year-long of cleaning up and cleaning out. I think that by doing this, we can all clear out the clutter of our lives and put more of our focus on God. Which is where it should be!
I am a child who was born in the mid-70’s and grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. I also am a child who grew up in a musical household. My father and brother are both musicians. So, it should come as little to surprise to those who know me, that I am a fan of Wayne’s World—a comedy sketch that first appeared on Saturday Night Live and was later made into a movie.
The premise revolves around the characters of Wayne, played by Mike Myers, and Garth, played by Dana Carvey. What I really remember the most is that they would encounter rock stars, and upon meeting them, would grovel and proclaim, “We’re not worthy. We’re not worthy.”
Well, the reason I am sharing this with you today is because that is how I have been feeling lately-- “not worthy.”
Do you ever feel this way?
This past week it was my birthday. My amazing husband took me to a TobyMac concert at Six Flags in New Jersey as a surprise! (If you have never seen TobyMac live, you MUST go. He is amazing!) And, we spent the next day in Philadelphia checking out the cool historical places in the city. (Think Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.) We then topped off our trip with a top-notch dinner at a little French bistro called Bistrot La Minette. It was probably one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. Honestly! (Check out some of our pictures of the trip below.)
Of this love and special treatment, I don’t feel worthy.
I had more than 100 family and friends call, text, or message me “Happy Birthday!”
To be remembered like this, I don’t feel worthy.
I decided to create a special campaign to raise money for The Rutledge Center for my birthday via Facebook. My goal was to raise $200 for this nonprofit that is doing uplifting work in our community by serving and promoting the general welfare of individuals with developmental disabilities. Well, I had family and friends step up and give $215!
Of this generosity, I don’t feel worthy.
Because of my birthday and all that has been happening because of it, I have been reflecting on all the love and blessings in my life. I have so very much love and so very many blessings. I can’t even begin to digest it all or fathom it. And, I don’t feel worthy.
Then, I started thinking about just how much I loved by God. And, of that, I most certainly do NOT feel worthy.
Here I am, this horrible, selfish, wretched person, stained with sin. But, God loves me so much that He sent His only Son to die on a cross for me. Jesus died in MY place. For me. For MY sins. FOR. ME. For me.
And, Jesus died on that cross for you, too.
He carried the sin of every single person on the earth to that cross. He carried the sins of everyone who is, was, or will be. Isn’t that mind-blowing?
And, as I sit and think about how much He suffered, how much pain and anguish He felt, how much torment He went through, I am shaken. I am at a loss. I am bereft. I definitely don’t feel worthy of that. I don’t feel worthy of any of that.
But, God says we are worthy. You are worthy. I am worthy. Why? Because He created us. That is why we are worthy. We are each special and have a unique purpose on this earth. That speaks volumes, doesn't it?
Before I leave you this week, I thought I would share something else with you. A friend of mine shared this on her Facebook page. It helps to reflect just a little of the depth of love that God has for us.
“Outrageous grace is God’s goodness that comes looking for you when you have nothing but a middle finger flipped in the face of God to offer in return. It’s a farmer paying a full day’s wages to a crew of deadbeat day laborers with only a single hour punched on their time cards (Matthew 20:1 – 16). It’s a man marrying an abandoned woman and then refusing to forsake his covenant with her when she turns out to be a whore (Ezekiel 16:8 – 63; Hosea 1:1 — 3:5). It’s the insanity of a shepherd who puts ninety-nine sheep at risk to rescue the single lamb that’s too stupid to stay with the flock (Luke 15:1 – 7). It’s the love of a father who hands over his finest rings and robes to a young man who has squandered his inheritance on drunken binges with his fair-weather friends (Luke 15:11 – 32). It’s God’s choice to save a slave trader knowing full well that it would take a decade for this man to recognize the wretchedness of his ways. It’s one-way love that calls you into the kingdom not because you’ve been good but because God has chosen you and made you his own. And now he is chasing you to the ends of the earth to keep you as his child, and nothing in heaven or hell can ever stop him.”
― Daniel Montgomery, Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace
Have you ever come across someone who was really accomplished and wished you could be like that person? I do this a lot! I find myself especially envious of people who have been given an artistic talent of some sort. (You know, people who can draw, paint, sing, dance, write, play an instrument, act—that sort of thing.) I can draw and paint a little, but I am not especially good at either. (And, I cannot sing, dance, act, or play an instrument-- much to my dismay.) And, while I realize that these things can be learned, I also feel like it takes something special inside to really be good at them.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman named Edward who has a gift of another sort that I would love to have. I had lunch with Edward, another new acquaintance, and a friend. And, within just a few minutes, I could tell that Edward looks at people through the eyes of Jesus. He led with prayer before we ate lunch and shared some Bible verses with us as we ate. At one point, he pulled out a pocket version of the New Testament, handed it over to me and asked me to read Acts 26:18. I did. It says, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” Edward said that that verse summed up the work of God for him. And, then he told me to mark that page and keep the book. And, I did. It was a touching gift.
Edward’s love for the Lord and people was so powerful that I got teary-eyed. My friend Jenni just smiled and said something along the lines of, “This is just Edward, this is just who he is.” I then looked at Edward and said, “You see others the way Jesus sees them. I want to be like that.” And, I meant it. I want to be like that.
As you read the New Testament of the Bible and learn about Jesus and who He is, you realize that He is the most loving and kind person there is. He has this special gift of seeing past our sins and ugliness. When He looks at us He sees our beauty, our potential. Jesus actually sees us. He. Sees. Us. And, I so desperately want to see people the same way, with those same eyes. With love and kindness. I want to see the true person and their heart---not just the outside cover.
I don’t know about you, but I, for one, think this is probably one of the most worthy goals I, or anyone, can achieve in this life. And, I believe that it is a goal that you or I can strive for and one day, reach. Will it be easy? No. Will it happen quickly? I doubt it. Even if we do achieve it at some point, will it be something that we can sustain for the rest of our lives? Who knows? We may finally get it one day, but the next day, it will slip our minds. I mean, we are only human, after all.
So, where do we start? How do we reach this worthy goal? I think the best first step we can take is to pray and ask God to open our eyes so that we can truly see. We can pray that He gives us His eyes. We can pray and ask God for His help in this endeavor.
And, if we take it one day at a time and remind ourselves to look at others with the eyes of Jesus, our focus can start to shift. Our vision can change. And, that in turn, can change lives. Both ours and others. Meeting Edward the other day, well, he is my proof of this.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.