My wife and I have decided that we have too much house. Funny thing, too much house usually means too much stuff. Over the last couple of weeks, we have gotten rid of books, clothing, knick-knacks and a set of china we don’t use anymore. And there’s still stuff everywhere, hiding in boxes, lurking in drawers. Why do plastic cups and earbuds seem to multiply like rabbits?
We’re doing this because we want to move into a smaller place next year. Maybe a modest townhome or a little bungalow. We might even rent until we can figure out what we want and where we want it. What I don’t want are a large yard, swimming pool or anything else that requires my blood, sweat and tears– but I’m not giving up air conditioning.
In the excavation process, I came across some awards that I’ve been hauling around for years, as well as reviews of plays that I’ve been in. The plaques were tarnished; the reviews torn and yellowed. It occurred to me that I’ve been keeping these as subtle ego-builders – tangible proof that others thought I had done a good job or I was a fine fellow. I had never once thought of getting rid of them – until now.
Let’s admit it: we all have an ego. Some are big, others are damaged, but we all want people to credit us for the wonderful things we do. Even the low man on the totem pole tries to find someone even lower so he can feel a little bit better about himself. But as Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
The Bible warns us against pride; in fact, it repeatedly tells us to humble ourselves. I’m not talking about being someone’s foot scraper or pushing around a wheelbarrow of shattered self-esteem for everyone to see. No! I’m talking about living in the glorious reality of knowing who God is and how we should serve Him. We don’t have to trumpet ourselves or hope that others will exalt us; if we stay small, pure and simple in God’s presence, He will lift us up in His time.
I had no idea that in downsizing my possessions I would be downsizing my pride, too. But the Holy Spirit has a knack of confronting us in ordinary things and everyday circumstances. Now … should I keep that old cap collection?