My 2018 One Word, er, Phrase

Last year was the first time I decided to have a word for the year. It worked out well. I fully understand if it’s not something that you do; 2017 just seemed like a good year for it. This year seems good, too, as something came up in our family over and over last month as a theme, and I decided to carry it make it my watermark for this year.

Use it up.

We have a lot of good and great things. Over the years we’ve just simply gathered things, kept stuff, accumulated items. I’m not sure why – I know lots of people do it. I think it’s because of a poverty mentality, feeling that “If I throw it away I’ll never have another chance.” There are certainly things to think about when there’s extra or interesting stuff – creative (or craftsy) people never know when their craft will need such-and-such; mechanics never know when they’ll need this fastener or that tool; Sunday school teachers never know (or, rather, always know) when they’ll need to re-use or rejuvenate a former lesson. BTW – our family consists of creative people, always thinking of ways to reuse or repurpose things.

Following up on last year’s word of “Why?,” it flows into “Use It Up.” While our creativity, home education, and parenting call for a lot of resources, by investigating our Why, we realized that we are often just simply hoarding with propriety. We aren’t outwardly hoarders – no trash piled up, no garbage hanging around, no newspapers filling boxes that are stacked to the ceiling. But inwardly we are hoarding – we want our stuff around us to make us feel safe and prosperous.

It’s one of those silent and invisible tricks of the soul – we talk against consumerism and materialism and we demonstrate our spiritual growth by getting rid of stuff (either giving to charity or the landfill), yet, internally, we KNOW that we haven’t arrived yet. We still hold on to our “stuff” security blanket. It just happens that no one sees it.

We have learned Why, and we have gotten rid of a lot of extra (things that were treasures, but are now, to us, trash – which may become someone else’s treasure), but now we have a lot of really useful things. And our struggle now is to use it. We hold on to this-and-that because we don’t want it to go away.

How ridiculous is that? Things are made for us to use – that’s their purpose. And yet, here we are, subjected to them. Why is that? (again, back to Why?)

Things are to be used. People are to be loved. Not vice versa. Things are for our enjoyment and use – and they are temporal. Material is transient, the spiritual is transcendent.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””

Luke 12:15 says, “And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

2018 is our year to use up what we’ve been given. Much of life is education of some form – simply growing up to be an adult, learning what food is good to eat, the right exercises for our body type, how to do our best at our job, how to be a better spouse or child…on and on the examples could go. In the process of growing, things need to be used up. Books are to be read (digested?); food needs to be cooked and eaten consistently (ever felt that it’s seems a waste to spend an hour on a meal, only to have it eaten in 5 minutes?); computers need to be used to their fullest and then trashed when you’re done. We just don’t really want to get to that “trashed” or “cooked” or “completed” part – I want stuff to last forever, not having to bother with spending more money and time on something else or the next thing.

But only 2 things last forever – the Word of God, and people. These are the 2 long-lasting entities on which I should spend my time. And in the process, I need to accept that using up temporal resources – time, money, energy – is the way to grow, minister, and live.

(Photo by Oziel Gómez on Unsplash)

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