I admit I was embarrassed to have my friend visit my small apartment. She lived with her family in a large house on the nicer side of town. We’d just moved after years of outreach work in the inner city. Much of our resources had gone to that work, and more recently to the adoption of our two kids. We didn’t (and still don’t) have the material abundance of the typical American family. So I wondered what my friend would think.
In the course of our conversation, she mentioned how lonely she was. Her big house was too often empty, her husband working long hours to cover the mortgage. The kids spent much of their time alone in their rooms, engrossed in whatever new technological gadget excess had afforded them. They had so much, but had lost much more in the process.
When she left, I sat on the couch and looked around our humble dwelling place…grateful. Living with less has afforded us so much more than money can buy. Living simply was a choice we made years ago, not only so we could give more, but that we could enjoy the short time we have together. Having less has enabled us to invest quality time with each other, and with our kids.
As I drive by the large yet empty homes that fill our streets, I can’t help but wonder…what have we left behind in search of the American dream? We think bigger and more equals life. Yet we’ve lost much life in the process. It seems the more we acquire materially, the more we lose relationally on account of the time it takes to maintain our possessions.
Sometimes I’m tempted to think my life is less because we have less. I have to remind myself to remember all we’ve gained in the process. And should we ever be granted abundance, I pray I never come to the point of forgetting what’s truly important.
“Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)