The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks


September 16, 2020

“Wealth should be like a light coat on a cool day. It should bring us comfort while we have it, but it can throw off at any moment without worry.” I read this line years ago in school, but I can’t find the name of the speaker. At the time, it inspired me enough to remember the gist of it for years. It was easy to be inspired by it at the time because I didn’t have much money. The idea that money, comfort, and possessions should bring comfort, but not be something that we depend on for survival is easy when we don’t have much of any of those things. Recently, I have undertaken the task of decluttering my life and paring down some of the possessions I have accumulated over the decades of my adulthood. I have come to realize that the stuff I own can easily become more than just a windbreaker to keep me comfortable. Little by little, the more stuff I have acquired has helped me to inch closer and closer to the point that things bring their own happiness and getting rid of them is difficult. As it turns out, we don’t fall in love with comfort and possessions all at once. It’s a long term romance. I once read that the United States is the only country in the world where there’s a whole industry devoted to providing space for people to rent to store our stuff. I’m not wagging a finger at this reality of the world we live in. Rather, I am pointing out that it is easy to move from a place where we possess our things to one where our things possess us. Buying things to be happy is a temptation our world has in abundance. The problem is that it doesn’t work. It’s a little like scratching a mosquito bite. It feels good when we scratch the itch of getting the newer, faster, fancier iPhone. For a little while the itch is gone. Before long, though, we feel that itch flare up again, because you can never scratch a mosquito bite enough to make it stop. Scratching makes it itch worse. In the same way, we can never really find happiness in things we have, and the more we have, the worse the need for more stuff to be happy grows. The philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote that in the heart of every man is a hole that God is designed to fit into. As long as that empty spot exists, we will feel that emptiness. We may try to fill it with possessions, sex, money, trips, relationships, or all manner of other things. Nothing will ever fill the hole apart from God himself, because nothing is as big as God. Everything else is inadequate. Worse, the more we try to fill our hearts with other things, the worse the emptiness gets. In the end, the only thing that can leave us content is a relationship with the God who made us.


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