Judah is in search of his iPod again. He thinks it might have been in his jeans pocket which have endured a thorough washing and are folded and stacked in the laundry basket. It’s not in there. I found it on the floor and rescued it before it was broken by Nehemiah and his two-year old curiosity which often inspire lathering things in lotion or throwing them in the trash. I found my phone in there once, among other things. Needless to say, we must be intentional about putting things away.
As a mom, who trusts that these possessions aren’t really that important, that we are destined for eternal purpose, I don’t want to get bogged down by stuff. I believe we are most unencumbered to serve God when we live a simpler existence.
It’s an interesting dichotomy between being a good steward of our possessions and resources and holding all things loosely.
I’ve noticed most people have a tendency to do one or the other. It’s hard to do both.
Judah is exceedingly giving. He’s just that way. He shares easily, he isn’t possessive. He saves his allowance to buy other kids things. His heart is unbound in his giving nature. The shirt off his back, sure, why not? I love this about him but honestly, I struggle as his mom. Do I let him give his stuff away? What about when he gets taken advantage of ?
He participated in cub scouts a few years ago and had earned a small box of Lego for popcorn sales. When they were receiving their prizes, another boy who hadn’t participated in sales received nothing. The boy was pouting and sulky. Judah handed over his prize with no second thought.
I didn’t want him to give it away.
Lego are expensive! We had stood at that popcorn table in the cold selling tins of popcorn on our Saturday! I wanted to demand he take the prize back but the crowd of smiling mothers surrounding me made it hard to jump up and say,” Hey, that’s not fair. Don’t be so giving. That kid’s just going to take advantage of you and he’s not even grateful!” I controlled myself.
Judah seemed unfazed. I kept waiting for the disappointment and letdown he would feel when he realized he got the short end of the deal. The child barely thanked him. But he didn’t. He seemed happy that he was able to do it. I left it at that. There have been times since then that I have put my foot down as children have left our house with Judah’s things, freely given.
He holds things loosely. Very loosely. So loose that we lose iPods, DS games, Lego parts, clothes, jackets, shoes, and random other things that he misplaced. Toys are left outside and ruined. DVD’s and games are left out and scratched. We are trying to teach him better stewardship of his possessions. To take care of them, put them away, and never put them in the laundry.
Some of his irresponsibility can be attributed to 11-year-old man-boy brain that tends to get very easily distracted. We are working on learning to follow directions that include more than one step without getting sidetracked by shiny things. I want him to find this balance of taking good care of his things while not being consumed by them.
However, since I started to frisk his playmates for concealed toys, he has started to loan things. He gets this from my husband who is also very giving. My husband who has loaned out so many things that we have had to replace because they’ve never been returned, have been lost, or have been returned broken. He also holds things loosely.
On the flip side, I have seen people who are very good stewards of their things. They keep them in immaculate shape. All things are put away, covered, remembered. They have stickers, embroidered patches, and sharpie marker labels with their name emblazoned on every article they own. I’m not against labeling as it makes it easy to find your stuff in a group or community but I also notice that sometimes, those people tend to hold a little tightly.
After all, they worked for these things. They take good care of them. If you want to use something, buy it yourself. And I get that, because I’m a little more this way than I’d like to admit. If it’s a cause or someone I consider truly needy, I have no problem giving abundantly but if it’s someone who could just as easily get it themselves, I hold tightly. Not that I always take perfect care of my things but we grew up without much and I’ve had so many things ruined or never returned that I am hesitant to lend out my belongings. Sometimes, I am stingy.
I hate this about myself because I truly do want to be giving but sometimes the balance between practicality and hospitality collide. I may loan you things, but I’ll need a deposit and two forms of i.d. with your picture on it.
And then I think of the parable in Luke.
To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. – Luke 6:29-30 ESV
Ummm, Luke, this is highly impractical.
This striking, cloak stealing, begging, unreturner of things does not sound like he would pass my loaning qualifications. Nor does he sound deserving or grateful.
These are those parts of the Bible where it’s fun to say God didn’t really mean it. I mean, what about our personal rights? And how are we supposed to give to everyone who begs from us. Does that mean we have to give to every homeless person with a cardboard sign? And now that we have global awareness from the media, does that mean that we have to invest in every cause? Does it mean we just stand there and take abuse while cloak stealing guy mistreats us?
I’m not saying I have the answers to all these balances. Like I said, I tend to hold too tight, but I know that God is speaking to me in this season. So much.
And this is something that I hear, ” Let me deal fairly.”
That’s it. Be responsible, be obedient, be free. Because Judah will be dealt fairly by God even if he doesn’t have that Lego set now.