77: It’s Still Too Much

77: It’s Still Too Much

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less

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It’s Still Too Much

If you live for having it all, what you have is never enough.

~Vicki Robin

It took all I had to fight back the tears that were beginning to trickle down my cheek. Crying was not allowed in my home growing up, especially over material things. We were to be appreciative and grateful for all that we had, because we didn’t have much.

As the tears began to fall I found myself thinking what I had felt many times before: “Why can’t I have what she has?” “Things” mattered to me. I wanted the latest designer jeans, the newest bike, the roller skates with stoppers on the toes. But my family didn’t have much money. And even if we did, it certainly wouldn’t be spent on such frivolous things. Yet it seemed that all my friends and neighbors had all the money they needed, and it made me so sad that I often cried myself to sleep.

I just wanted to be like all the other kids. In my mind, I needed these things in order to fit in.

Being the determined young lady that I was, if my parents wouldn’t buy me the things I so desperately wanted, I would make them myself. I began designing clothes at the age of thirteen. As soon as I was old enough, I began to work. I loved making money. I could buy whatever I wanted, and that’s exactly what I did.

To make matters worse, I discovered credit cards! I started spending money faster than I could make it. It was wonderful — or so I thought — to live above my means and not have to worry about it until later. Or course, I would later discover that “later” always came.

After several years, the harsh possibility of bankruptcy woke me up. I had to get my act together or forever suffer the consequences. By this point in my life, I no longer liked myself. I had spent every penny I earned and more, and I had nothing to show for it. All of the friends that I bought things for were gone. Everything that I just “had to have” was already in the trash or worthless.

While I spent a good number of years improving my credit and reining in my spending, there was still a part of me that vowed, “When I earn more money I will get it all back.” My desire for what I perceived to be the must-haves was keeping me from focusing on the bigger picture. I was always focused on what I didn’t have, until the day when I walked into my closet, which was the size of a small bedroom, and I really looked. I rationalized that other women had even more clothes, but a little voice inside me said, “It’s still too much.”

I was disgusted with myself. “This ends here,” I thought.

I began to set aside all of the clothing and shoes that I hadn’t worn in years. The pile was huge. That small voice rose up inside me and asked, “Could you have made do without these?” The answer was yes. I could have done without all of those clothes. I had barely worn them, and now I had no interest in them at all.

Then I added up the amount of money that I spent on those clothes. It came to $8,000.

That was my breaking point. I thought of all the good I could have done with $8,000. I began to look around at all the “stuff” in my house and asked myself the same question. Could I have done without all this stuff? The answer was a resounding “Yes!”

Even though I was a grown woman at this point, I was still trapped in that little girl mentality of needing to have it all. It was time to change.

I repented of my gluttony and asked God to help me through this transition. I wanted nothing in my life that wasn’t needed. I wanted only what would bring me true and meaningful joy and not rob me of money and — more importantly — time. When I thought of how much time I had lost trying to acquire these expensive, wasteful things, it was painful, but it fortified me. This was a new day.

From that moment on, I have asked myself this question: “Can you do without this?” If my answer is yes, or if I have to think about it for a moment, I don’t buy it.

My closet today is one-tenth the size it used to be and nowhere near filled. It brings me tremendous joy when I see how simple life can be just by looking in my closet. I love my clothes and I wear each and every piece. No longer do I look around at my life and think, “What a waste.” Rather, I think, “What a blessing to be so free from the chains of STUFF.”

~Kris Reece

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