Christmas is almost upon us, the time of year when it's all too easy to get sucked into stuffism and forget that things really don't provide lasting happiness to us.
For me, this is a consistent challenge.
I'll be honest - I like stuff and things.
As I write this, I'm eagerly awaiting my own Christmas gift to get back from Maple Leaf Firearms, where my Glock 19 slide is getting their famous Duty Cut.
But, come around in January or February, and the initial excitement of my new thing will have worn off.
Why is this?
I believe there are at least 3 reasons why we don't gain lasting pleasure from the possessions we acquire.
1. We're everlasting beings, whose joy is intended to be found in God, not things. Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Additionally, King Solomon, in the Book of Ecclesiastes, laments for 12 chapters on the meaninglessness of collecting possessions and experiences, apart from using them for God's glory. It's clear, we were created for a higher purpose than simply existing and finding joy in the trivial things of life.
2. Possessions are very temporary by nature. Let's face it, most things we acquire are not permanent. At best, some things will become generational, such as your grandfather's favorite shotgun that now resides in your gun cabinet (collecting dust 364 days per year). Deep inside, we know that most of our possessions will not stand the test of time, and therefore the pleasure we attach to them gets less as the days roll on "closer" to that thing's likely end-date. Undoubtedly, just as I am right now, you're likely thinking of those 1 or 2 things that you've grown to love more over the years...I have them, too, but would argue they're the exception, not the rule.
3. Possessions can never replace people. As I've become a husband and then father (#3 has likely arrived by the time this article is posted!), I've come to realize that all the greybeards who pontificated to me about investing in relationships were actually on to something...Life is much more about the people that we choose to spend it with than the possessions we acquire along the way. There's a timeless Jim Rohn quote that I love, “You're the average of the five people spend the most time with.” I'm finding this to be more true, the more that I reflect on my life and what's shaped it so far.
What's the cure?
Proverbs 21:31 says, "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD." I like good, tactical advice, and this verse from Proverbs is about as tactical as you can get. It perfectly balances the fact that we're required to do things to affect an outcome, while still trusting that God will provide the outcome that He sovereignly has ordained is best.
When it comes to stuffism, my #1 tactic for taking it on is gratefulness. I know it's a buzzword these days, and you're likely tired of seeing it from every "motivational coach" on Instagram. However frustrating it may be, there is legitimate value to intentionally reframing your mind each day to be grateful for the people, possessions, and experiences that you're blessed to have.
How does this look at a practical level?
I pray, thanking God for the people who are the most impactful in my life, the unique experiences that He's blessed me with, and the cool possessions that He allows me to enjoy! And I ask Him to help me stay humble, so that I'll continue to trust Him as the experiences, people, or possessions change.
I hope you know that I am, first and foremost, writing this article to myself. It's a constant battle in my life to push stuffism down in place of valuing eternity and people more. Intentionally praying to be grateful has really helped me keep an aligned perspective on life. I trust that it will do the same for you.
Stay Sharp. Stay Savage.