We live in a culture of more. More things. More food. More fun. We strive to get more in nearly all aspects of our lives. More education. More responsibility. More money. Even things that are beneficial drive us towards getting more of something. More muscle. More focus. More time. And the more we get, the more we want. Yet we are never satisfied... never actually content.
I walk around my home and I see too much stuff…clothes, toys, books, knickknacks. Every Saturday I clean out the fridge and dispose of leftover foods from the week that we either cannot or will not eat, yet head to the store to buy more groceries. My bi-annual trips to donate unwanted households to our local charity have become monthly in an effort to curb that choking feeling when I look around at unnecessary stuff and struggle to breathe. The more I get, the worse I feel.
But it’s not only “stuff” that makes me feel this way. I often race out the door running here to there while my mind races even faster, “What do I write about this week? Did I give the baby her medicine? Don’t forget to buy more coffee…I think one of us has a dentist appointment next week…Did I forget to pay the electric bill! I really need to mop the floors-they’re dirty…is it someone’s birthday?” Trying to do it all – call it multi-tasking, being high capacity, productive, busy- whatever, it is still a quest for more. To do more, manage more, have more of something.
Solomon called this meaningless…like chasing the wind. He said “All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied…Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite” (Ecclesiastes 6:7,9.) He knew what it was to have and want “more.” He had more wealth than any other king at that time…more power, wisdom, and honor- he even had the promise of longevity from God. Yet, with everything he had either worked for or been given, he recognized that at the heart of man, is an insatiable appetite for more…one evidence of this in his own life was his collection (I struggle to find a better word) of 700 wives and 300 concubines! He had a roving appetite for more and struggled to be content with what he had before him. And this ultimately led to his downfall (I Kings 11:1-6) and splitting of the kingdom.
If that’s where more leads us, I don’t want to go there. I want less…less clutter, less worry, less stress, less hurrying, less working to the point of exhaustion. In fact, that is my goal for this new year. My “word” for this year is “less.” I plan to systematically free myself from the knots and tangles of striving to have more / do more / BE more by choosing “less.” Sure, it’s going to be tough- my first task is in my home as I must pack the entire contents of our four bedrooms in preparation for new carpeting. This sounds simple, but when you’ve lived in a home for greater than 10 years, worked and home schooled in that same space, you understand the multiplication of stuff is like a giggling baby video going viral! And I won’t stop there. I will also focus on less busy-ness…the things and events that keep me on the go and drive me nuts will have to stop or be drastically reduced. This requires a shift in mindset as I prepare to take steps that will disappoint my kids (no, we are not running out to the store for you to spend the $4 you just found) and my friends (I may not respond to each and every volunteer opportunity, meal delivery, and in home party- but I still love you!)
Where has the quest for more led you? Is it where you really want to go? I do not believe that things, hard work, and goals are bad per se, in fact, it is our appetites i.e., our “hunger” that often drives us to success and accomplishments in various areas of our lives. But if we cannot be content, at peace with what we have in front of us, then our uncontrolled appetite for more could lead to destruction. This may look like increased work-related stress, tension in marriages and families, strained friendships, anxiety and depression, or a spot on reality tv where “professionals” are called in to help get control of a hoarding tendency.
I don’t want that. Solomon said “A heart at peace gives life to the body but envy rots the bones” (Prov 14:30). Peace. Life. Less. I trust he knew a thing or two about having things and striving for more, and in the end, he was ultimately disappointed. I think that as I look at this new year and new objectives, I want to seek less. And strangely, I have a feeling that in the end, I will get more out of it.
Yes, less often is more!
How about you? Have you felt like you need to seek less this upcoming year? Tell us what you plan to do about it! Maybe your ideas will help me out too!