The excess that surrounds me

Jen Bradbury
Sep 25 · 5 min read

For a long time, I’ve joked with my husband, Doug, about how he lucked out marrying someone who really does not enjoy shopping.

That said, I confess I have a weakness: The clearance rack at Kohl’s and REI. I can’t enter either of these stores without scouring the clearance rack for great bargains. Once I find one, if it fits, its very difficult for me to resist purchasing my newfound treasure – regardless of whether or not I actually need it.

Then last week, I read a chapter in Rob Bell’s “Jesus Wants to Save Christians” in which he said, “When the fundamental awareness is lost that this is all a gift, luxuries can begin to seem like necessities. Excess can become normal.”

This got me thinking: In what areas of my life has excess become normal?

On the one hand, it’s pretty easy for me to pat myself on the back for the ways that I don’t live with excess in my life. For example: My tiny, 1000 square foot house is certainly not excessive and for four years, Doug & I actually survived with only one car. We now have two, but they’re certainly not “excessive” cars. They’re reasonable, environmentally friendly cars.

But then I think about the fact that even though there’s only two of us, our house has two floors, which means that when we want to, we can completely isolate ourselves from each other by each “living” on our own floor. Then I think about how even though there’s only two of us, we own three working computers. Then I look at the rows and rows of books in my office. Certainly things that I love, but also excess. Then I think again about my clothes and the fact that I have to pack a season’s worth of clothes away in tubs because they won’t fit in my closet all at once. Then I think about the two garbage bags full of clothes that I’m donating to charity next week. Then I think about the 25 t-shirts sitting in my office that rather than wear, I’d like to have made into a t-shirt quilt. Then I think about the quilts that I already have, and the fact that even though there are only two beds in my house, I own 11 sets of sheets. Then I think about my tubs of scrapbooking materials and the fact that Doug has three RC airplanes, even though he can only fly one at a time. Then I think about the four complete sets of dishes that I own. Worse yet, I think about the amount of food Doug & I waste in any given week.

Still worse is the fact that even though I’ve diagnosed the problem, I’m not sure what to do about it other than to say that I think it begins with me literally taking inventory and realizing that given the fact that I already have 76 shirts in my closet, I need not by another one – no matter how great the bargain. As I inventory things, I think I’ll learn to be grateful for all that I have while while also discovering things I don’t need, or have too many of. My plan is to donate those things to people who need them, something that may help others and that will also help me to declutter my life – both physically and spiritually.

I hope the end result is that I’ll be able to live more simply…

And more Christ-like.