You know what I’m talking about. Hanging onto things (sometimes everythings) a little too long. Buying more of exactly the same stuff (in case the world runs out). Stockpiling – dvds or nappies or toilet rolls or the stinky cheese from Poundland that always gets snapped up.
It’s definitely in me. I’m better than I was, (Exhibit A: mountains of unworn Oxfam clothes, now bagged up and repatriated).
But only slightly.
Pull open the cupboards and you’ll see it. Economy bin bags. Shampoo, (‘buy 12 get one free’). Pasta. Tuna fish.Little mountains, that make me feel safe.
Every once in a while, I’ll do a clear-out. Four months of tuna pasta bake should be enough to reform anyone. But no. Gradually, the piles creep back. Something new I’m lacking. Something else I need.
And make no mistake, it feels like a need. I could send it back, but I’ll lose a bit of myself. I could do without, but it leaves me empty and exposed.
There are degrees of obsession. But it’s interesting that one in three people in the UK collect something. So what’s going on?
One theory is that unloved children learn to seek comfort by collecting belongings. Another is that it’s a way of defeating death; living on through our stuff. It could be a way of showing loyalty – to a band or team. Maybe we’re buying into a lifestyle or a dream…that’s not just an aftershave, it’s Sex Appeal in a Bottle. Or, (a recent claim from evolutionary theorists), that Men with More Stuff are most attractive to the opposite sex.
For me, having things promises to make me feel safe. I’m scared of running out; scared of a world where there are limited resources, scared of not having what I need.
But as a Christian, what does this say about me? More importantly, what does it say about the kind of God I believe in?
If God is a miser, tight-fisted and mean, then I need to fend for myself. I need to shore things up. I need to find identity in what I own
If He’s the God of the Bible – generous, unstinting, loving and reliable – I can let these things go. I can find safety in Him, not my double-quilted Andrex. I can trust my Father to provide all that I need; physically, spiritually and emotionally too.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Rom 8:32.