Can I be real here for a second?
Of course I can, this is my blog, so you can’t really stop me. Although you can stop reading, so feel free to… okay no, please don’t.
Anyway, a couple of months ago things in my brain started to get a little weird. A stirring started in my head and my heart that began to get me a bit angsty (I realize this is not a word, but I like so it stays). I started to really wrestle with the notion that I go to work every day with people who have very little, claiming that I love them and want to be a part of their lives, I call them brothers and sisters…and then at the end of the day I drive home to Santa Monica and enjoy luxuries, both physical and mental (ie; the fact that I can write this blog from the vantage point of privilege), that are unheard of in most parts of the world- including the place just outside of the doors where I’m sitting as I write.
I am not comfortable with this picture.
I recently started reading a book by Jen Hatmaker, an author that has quickly become my imaginary best friend. (Full disclosure; I wrote her a letter, but have yet to send it because it reminded me too much of the fan letter I wrote to Justin Timberlake when I was 16, that he NEVER responded to – one can only take so much rejection and humility.) In her book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess she rather poignantly addresses very similar sentiments as she describes her own mental and physical war with stuff. It’s inspired and convicted me, while also leaving me breathing a sigh of relief that, at least, I am not alone in these feelings.
I described what I was feeling to someone who replied with, “But you already work with the poor, isn’t that enough?”
“It’s not.” I replied, “Love is sacrificial and I don’t know that I am really sacrificing much – at the end of the day I am still getting paid to be here. I love my job and the people I work with, but it’s still my job, I want to give my life.”
So that’s my plan. I’m not sure what this looks like for my long term future, I mean really have no clue. But here is where I am starting: I don’t have a lot of money per se, but I do have a lot of stuff…err, rather I have a lot of clothes. I have very few ratty pieces left because of a recent move/purge, which means I have closets of decent clothes, some even brand new, that I don’t wear. I have many articles that I see and think ‘I will wear this again (or eventually), even if it’s not in the rotation now,’ which may in fact be true, but that angsty voice I mentioned above? Yeah, she keeps telling me that maybe instead of saving it for the one time this year I will wear it, perhaps I should give it to someone who needs it.
What does this mean, you ask? Somewhat akin to what my new BFF Jen did and documented in her book, for the month of March I plan to pull out 3 things per day to give away – whether that be clothes, shoes, blankets, whatever I feel led to and at the end of the month figure out a way to give them away…not donate them the Goodwill or any other thrift shop, but find a place where people can receive them for free. (Read: Donating things to the Goodwill is not a bad thing, but I want to give them to people who don’t have the ability to shop at all.)
I am going to be truthful and tell you I am not overly excited about this, but I just can’t not do it. I need to do it. I am being called to do it. I don’t have 93 things I want to give away. I don’t own things I wish I didn’t. But I don’t want to live a life that says one thing with my mouth and even parts of my life, but fails to follow suit in the rest of it.
And here’s where you come in. (WARNING: stop reading now if you don’t want to have to say yes or no to me OR JESUS. I am totally kidding – how was that for spiritual manipulation?)
I want you to join me. It doesn’t need to look the exact same, I chose this number per day because it’s a lot for me and if I simply said I was going to donate ‘some stuff,’ it wouldn’t be so much of a sacrifice, and I could rationalize keeping things that I am being called to give away.
(And it’s not just about clothes. People need bedding, kitchen items, and other household stuff that we often take for granted. So while you may not have a closet that’s packed, I’d challenge you to look to other closets and cabinets.)
I believe that most of us westerners (if not all) are living in excess. I don’t say this in judgment and I promise that if you don’t feel led to do this with me, I will not judge you a single iota – but I do believe that we all have a role to play in caring for our brothers in sisters who are in need and I do believe in tangible grace and so maybe, just maybe your heart is being tugged at to do this with me too.
IF this is the case, that you decide to join me in one way or another, let me know. I’d love to metaphorically join hands and pray over this together, as well as I am open to any creative ideas as to how we can give together even if it’s just in solidarity, cause ya know, distance. (One friend of mine was brainstorming a garage sale/store of sorts, where things are itemized, but all free – can you imagine how fun that could be for recipients?! “Oh, you want a green coat, not a blue one, cool! Here’s a blue one!”)
So there we go. It’s public. My hands are shaking. I’m committed. The fear of public failure is a real one. And for me- a powerful forcing function. If you’d like to join me I’d love to hear about it. And if like me, you need the pressure of a verbal commit, please feel free to post something in the comments section or share on your favorite social channel.
This is a big personal challenge for me, but as you know, a “calling” is hard to ignore. Here’s to a March of doing better.
4 thoughts on “March Against Excess.”
Do you know of spots to give things where folks can get them for free instead of Goodwill? That’s my go to. I am collecting and wondering where to take things…
You’re in Pasadena, right Marisa? It depends on what kinds of stuff you have, but yes! I have more or less researched it all and can definitely help steer you in the right direction!
Yup, Pasadena! 🙂 Clothes, mostly…
The one place I know of off the top of my head in Pasadena is The Union Station Foundation (I actually used to work there). They have various programs and accept donations of all kinds.
If you are interested in coming downtown, The Downtown Women’s Center is awesome and always in need of women’s clothing. I know it’s not super close, but they are an amazing organization that helps women get back on their feet. I seriously love them. All of the staff I have ever spoken with there are very helpful as well.
Let me know if that helps, if it doesn’t I am more than willing to keep looking for you!