I’ve been watching MSNBC’s new summer series Save Me featuring a housewife who talks to God. More often than not, it’s an example of bad theology but it’s amusing. In the latest episode, Beth’s husband is having his boss over for dinner, and she’s also having a Garage sale. When everything had been sold, a woman arrives for the Garage sale. On learning that she was too late, she begins gushing over Beth’s new set of China and God, unpredictable as ever, tells her to sell the China. She does so grudgingly. And then someone shows up to buy her new dress, and her daughter’s new shoes and the meal she was supposed to serve for dinner and her dining table too. So her dinner guests show up to dinner at an old worn out card table, paper ‘Happy Birthday’ plates and a very inexpensive dinner. God’s reasoning: she had too much stuff.
When the show was over, a thought stealthily crept into the back of my mind. I stumbled over it and instantly shrank back. My first thought was “we are not having this conversation right now”. And by ‘right now’, I meant ‘ever’. It was a very displeasing thought. But the thought remained, gently prodding at my consciousness, sneaking to the fore of my mind whenever I let go for a moment and using those moments to put forward its devastating logic.
Note to the uninformed: Never hold a logical argument with God. You’ll lose. The only way you win is if you plug your ears, stamp your foot and absolutely refuse to listen to reason. And that’s what I did. “Are you saying I can’t have a nice soft bed?”, I asked in my best whiny four-year old voice ,”But I like having a nice soft bed”.
No, he wasn’t saying that, but it took me a few minutes to realize that. He gently and persistently prodded at me till I got tired and stopped fighting. And then I looked around me and saw. When I lived with my parents, we had one TV, and when we got a second one, we barely used it. We didn’t have cable. The girls had one bedroom and the boys had another. Our bedrooms consisted of a closet, a bed, an air conditioner and (for the girls) a TV. And we were happy. It never occurred to me that we needed anything more. Sure, we fought over the computer but now that we have more, we barely know what to do with them.
I realized then that, like Beth, I don’t really need a lot. I don’t think I have too much stuff – my only excess is a set of baking pans and and about 8 pairs of shoes. And when I start my internship this summer and earn more money, there’s nothing I need to buy with it. This is, after all, my temporary home. It’s homely and comfortable. I could add in a dresser and reading table, but there’s no need to do that.
He then said one thing that completely broke my resistance. The less unnecessary things I have, the more I can give. I can host more dinners for my friends, give more gifts to those around me and buy ice cream and presents for an acquaintance who falls ill. I love giving to and taking care of others and he loves that too. And I can do more of it. I just have to be wiser with my spending.
There’s still more to think about to decide. I have to train myself to not buy just anything I like, and I still think I need more shoes and bags, But that’s a discussion for another day.