Just thinking about the idea of packing up my life and living in a mobile home for three months makes me twitch. But it is exactly what the DiMarco family did as they traveled around the country in the summer of 2009 to film a documentary. You can imagine the difficult decisions they had to make while deciding what stuff to take and what stuff was unnecessary for travel. Through this process, the DiMarcos concluded that like most of us, they had a love affair with stuff and decided that some major "unstuffing" of their life must take place. Below are their definitions of the words that developed from the perspective of their experience:
Stuff: Anything other than God. Stuff in and of itself is not necessarily bad until we place stuff above God.
Unstuff: The process of de-cluttering our life to make room in our life for what really matters.
Below is an excerpt from an interview I did with Hayley DiMarco regarding their journey and their book Unstuff: Making Room in Your Life for What Really Matters (Tyndale, 2011). I hope it will speak to your heart about the stuff in your own life, and what you choose to do with it.
˜ When preparing for your trip that inspired the Unstuffing, what was the hardest to give up while unstuffing your life?
The hardest thing for me to give up in every situation, including the downsizing into a motor home for three months, was comfort. I discovered through this process, that comfort is a powerful idol in my life that I have to fight at every turn. I find myself thinking that I won't be happy if I'm uncomfortable -- that my environment has to be just right in order for me to feel good, and I have to feel good in order to be productive and happy. It's a cruel task master this idol of comfort because it restricts me so much. It tells me I can't do this or that for fear of discomfort. But the trip, and the necessity to get uncomfortable, was a great way for me to reject and smash my idol.
˜ As you stepped back into life as usual following the trip, was it easy to keep your life simplified or did you have the urges to start stuffing again?
Oh, if we could only become perfect once and for all! I know what I want to do but I don't do it. What a mess I am. Though I know that stuff, meaning anything other than God, can easily start to become as important, if not more important than God, I still turn an occasional blind eye to the constant magnetic pull for stuff. So I have to continually guard against overstuffing. Thank goodness for my husband who holds me accountable and who is brave enough to check me on my stuffing. I need that. And each time that my heart craves more stuff I remind myself that stuff is so unimportant, and that God is all I need. It's been a great journey of freedom, freeing me from the tyranny of my desires, and setting me free to serve only God.
˜ What advice would you give a 20-something year old woman in regards to developing good habits to keep her life "unstuffed?"
When it comes to stuff, what is your obsession? If there is anything in your life that you obsess over then that's where you might want to look to unstuff. Obsessing over anything; work, relationships, home decorating, even ministry, anything other than God is called idolatry and it's a dangerous thing for your soul. It's really easy to obsess over stuff; it's in our DNA, scheduled on our calendars, and filling our senses non-stop. Buy, buy, buy! We fall in love with the idea of stuff, we romanticize it, and then we adore it. If the majority of your thought is caught up in anything, or anyone other than God then consider refusing to serve that idol any more. Not that you have to walk away from it, some idols or stuff, is good, like relationships, church, Bible study, but if it's consuming you then it's time to turn your heart back to your first love and give your obsessions a rest. When you unstuff, you set your heart free to love God with all of its strength, and that is what it was made for.
On a personal note, this last piece of advice from Hayley caused me to evaluate a major source of obsession and angst in my life -- my closet. Every morning I used to rifle through a large pile of clothes to find the perfect cami to wear under my business suit jacket. Then, I would rifle through yet another large pile of clothes to find said jacket which would undoubtedly be quite wrinkled. Just getting dressed each morning stressed me out ... not a good way to start the day. So, about four months ago I set out to unstuff my closet. Twelve bags of clothing to Goodwill and a sense of organization and I am a whole different person in the mornings! By unstuffing, I've found peace and order to the start of my day.
Has this concept challenged you in an area where stuff overtakes your life? Lets talk about unstuffing this week and encourage each other in practical ways to put God in a higher place than all our stuff.
Unstuff: Making Room In Your Life For What Really Matters by Hayley & Michael DiMarco
"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." -- John 10:10
Sarah Martin will admit that she loves stuff, especially stuff from Target. Check out her blog for more on her journey of unstuffing as inspired by Hayley and Michael DiMarco's book Unstuff. www.liveitoutblog.com
For more devtionals like this one, check out Proverbs 31 Ministries