You keep putting out the hits…

Here’s a post from my friend Joshua’s blog from a week or so ago, but much needed and things I’m dealing with lately…

The Essentials…

The less I have, the better off I am.

The more I have, the more complicated things become.

Traveling has been one of my greatest teachers in regards to these concepts. I value being taught by professors and such, but there’s nothing like getting your feet dirty in another culture’s soil. It is difficult to describe in text the experience of staying with a family that doesn’t speak your language. To some this would be very, very uncomfortable.

To me, it’s quite possibly heaven on earth.

I wish that I could sum up my experiences from this past year and a half throughout all 21 countries, but I think that would take an entire memoir, of which I do not feel qualified to write.

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One of the things I have learned, especially in that last year, is that I do not own anything, and yet I own everything.

All things are mine. Creation is mine. All truths are mine to claim. All teachings are mine to grasp.

And yet, in the same breath, all of my things are on loan. They are not really mine. I may seem to have possession of them, but they are not mine. They are only given to me to use. I hold them all open handedly.

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I college I used spent one of my spring breaks living out of a backpack. I’d drive up north in Virginia, drop my car off at a not-so-reputable hotel, and then a buddy of mine would drive me maybe 50 or 60 miles south and drop me off to make my way back to my car on my own.

Me. A pair of boots. Food. Some clothes. Gear. A bible. A book. Sunflower seeds. A pipe. A backpack. Happiness.

As I walked I thought about how little I really needed to survive. Food. Shelter. Clothes. And I have noticed the same to be true in regards to how God designed us to live. It seems that Jesus was quite often found saying how difficult it is to be rich and how blessed the poor really are. Jesus is constantly frustrating me like that. In my opinion he could have made things much more believable and neat if he would have just explained things a tad bit more. This is only my opinion, and I have been known to be wrong some most of the time.

Traveling brought me to the same conclusions. I would go from country to country with only the things on my back to keep me going day to day. I would try to meet as many people as I could (sometimes to find a place to stay or some free food to eat. Stop judging me.). We would trade stories and books and advice on where to stay next. I discovered that I had been so dependent on so many things at home, thinking that I couldn’t live without them. How could I survive without a car? New clothes? or Apple products? NO! Impossible. I refuse to entertain it.

But I think Jesus was right.

And so I’ve been trying to change how I live. I am trying to realign my life to understand the essentials and to hold loosely the non-essentials. I’ve made a few lists. It’s ok if you disagree with them.

Let’s start with the essentials:

• Food

• Shelter

• Clothing

Right. That’s about it. It’s interesting to see what Jesus said was important and what was not.

There are a few places where Jesus says that we shouldn’t worry about what we’ll eat or what we’ll wear and such, because God loves to provide those things for everything and everyone. From birds to boys in Indiana. This has been huge for me. It is in God’s nature to give me the things that I really need, and so I don’t have to worry about them at all. He’ll take care of it.

(Now it should be noted that you and I and others might disagree on what it means to have food and clothes and shelter provided. Maybe someone can live on much, much less than I, and therefore their definition will be different of what it means for God to provide.)

Now let’s move to my list of non-essentials of which I am trying to hold with open hands.

The non-essentials:

• 1990 Honda Accord w/ moon roof

The Soup on E!

• Apple

• Tents (including tarps strapped to trees)

• XMU on XM Radio

• Coffee (Believe it or not, I actually prefer Folgers.)

• NPR

• Nikon, Polaroid, Canon, Holga (Thanks Tim for the new Spectra.)

• 35 mm and medium format film

• Music:

My all time desert island top 5 albums (in chronological order):

1: Les Miserables || Original Broadway Cast Recording (1987)

2: Jimmy Eat World || Bleed American (2001)

3: Death Cab For Cutie || Transatlanticism (2003)

4: Matt Redman || Facedown (6.15.2004)

5: The Album Leaf || In A Safe Place (6.21.2004)

• Musical Instruments

• Montrail Running Shoes

• The Internet

Flickr Pro Account

• Coca-Cola Classic

• A razor (That’s easy.)

• My Rainbows and Chacos

B o o k s

• Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers

• The North Face Denali Fleece

• Nalgene Water Bottles

• Moleskine

• A few choice beverages

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All of the non-essentials are nice to have, but are not necessary for living. When I start thinking that I can’t live without any of those items, that’s when I have to really reevaluate my priorities. Because if I don’t have them, tomorrow is still going to happen. Tomorrow will still come. If I lose something, it’s fine. Tomorrow will still come. If something gets stolen, it’s ok. If I or someone else breaks something, life will continue. We will be ok. (Hello Jeff Pamer.)

I want to hold all of my possessions with open hands. If I have food, shelter, and clothing then I’ll be alright.

I know a few people who are absolutely generous with everything they own because they know that it’s not really theirs. They’ll let you borrow any single thing they own if you need it (or even if you don’t need it, because need is a fascinating concept).

As I take steps toward these things, I find freedom. The less I have, the less I feel chained to having and gaining, and the more free I feel to share and be giving. I’ve also found that I’ve become more innovative with the things that I have. I have a few friends who can take a little and make it into a lot. They are thrifty and creative, and this is inspiring to me. Very McGuyver.

I do not claim to have arrived. I am at the beginning of this eternal process. It ranges from economical to financial to physical. It is a holistic shift that has begun to open my eyes to a new kingdom which was there the entire time, but I was unaware of it.

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