A different tithe

We have always donated a tithe of our income to our church, but I had an idea recently that has helped me gain a new perspective on the STUFF in my life. I’ve been working on decluttering–OK, seems I’m always working on that–but really emphasizing it this last year. Between making a major move and feeling an urgent need to really get control over my environment, I’ve had a lot of motivation to get rid of stuff. I ran into a hitch, though, when it seemed I’d already let go of all the “extra” stuff–what was left was things I felt were useful. Like my thousands of books. You can never have too many good books, right?

The trouble was, I knew I still had more “stuff” than I could easily take care of. I’m not by nature a good manager of stuff. I like to organize, but have trouble maintaining the order. And I just didn’t want all my attention going to maintaining things–I want time to teach and enjoy my kids, time to spend with my husband, time to serve. That’s when I came up with the idea of giving away one tenth–a tithe–of my stuff. Using the analogy of tithing our income to church helped me be willing to give away the GOOD stuff, the stuff that I might find useful (but didn’t really need). After all, it’s good money we give away when we tithe–but we give it freely because we are just giving back to the Lord some of what he has blessed us with, and it is going to a great cause! I don’t know why stuff is harder to let go of than money, but often it is. I found if I take the perspective that I am just giving some of what I have been blessed with, and if I give where it will be truly appreciated, I can overcome my selfish need to hold onto things.

One of the things that holds us back when we have more than we need (as almost all of us do) is the dread of giving something away then wanting it tomorrow, or next month, or next year…I have found I occasionally do wish I had something I had let go of, but honestly it’s relatively rare. It doesn’t make sense to hold onto one hundred things, or even ten things, because one of those might be needed and we’re not sure which one. Better to let all of them go to somewhere they will be a blessing, rather than burdening ourselves with caring for all of them in case we need something.

Anyway, I’ve been having fun–oddly, I have found I get the same kind of pleasure from giving things away as I get from acquiring new things! I always donate–I don’t sell things. That’s a matter of my heart. I love the hymn that says “Because I have been given much, I too must give”–I have been abundantly blessed in my life, and it just seems right that I should do what I can to bless others.

Oh, and my house is cleaner than it’s ever been.

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5 Responses to A different tithe

  1. Maile says:

    Hi, Sarah! I’m so glad Peter learned about your new blog. And I love this post. I’ve been on a similar kick of getting rid of STUFF but I have the same problem when it comes to books! I don’t buy books often (preferring the library or borrowing) so when I do buy one, it’s because I really want it (but of course don’t necessarily need it). I definitely feel better when I can give it to someone else I know will love it. I really loathe to send things I value to a place like Goodwill because I feel like it just gets swallowed up in mounds of stuff. Maybe I need to start selecting books I can pass on and choosing some recipients that I think will need/use/appreciate them.

    And I love your attitude in regards to donating instead of selling. The whole process and time that goes into selling our used things seems so huge and time draining, so I much prefer to have the perspective that we’re doing something in line with one of my very favorite hymns – I definitely like thinking that instead of fearing that I’m lazy for not wanting to sell books on Amazon or elsewhere. 🙂

    • thegardener says:

      Hi Maile,

      I’ve always loved your comments, so I’m really glad you’ve found the new blog. I agree that it is easier to give things away when you know they are going to someone who will appreciate them. This is especially true with my homeschooling materials! I organized a curriculum swap for our local group at the beginning of the summer, where everyone could bring curriculum they were no longer using and browse through what others brought for things they might use. I also listed some of my books on the local homeschooling yahoo list and they got snatched up right away.

  2. This is so true, and your analogy of a stuff-tithe is fantastic! I too feel so much benefit immediately and longer term from giving stuff away, or even selling it at a reasonable price (since I like to buy things used, I appreciate when others sell them used!).

  3. Pamela says:

    loved your blog! My daughter-n-law (Kristi) shared a book with me that I found sooo helpful in many of my life situations. “Sink Reflections” the ‘Fly Lady’ shares that clutter says to you…’You can’t go any where…you have to stay here and ‘take care of me’. How freeing that became to me to de-clutter! Don’t have to dust it, move it around, walk around it… I also used a lot of my time trying to decide to whom to give it…made me feel a little…still connected to it…just incase?!?!?!? Then I came to the reasoning if someone might need it maybe I could take it to ‘Good Will’ where a person might go looking on purpose!!!! I have found some really fun and needed stuff at ‘Good Will’ that served to encourage me and cause me to laugh. Just a thought. Isn’t it great that God uses us to be a ‘Blessing to others’ in our own way that comes out of ‘Who we are and what He has led us to do…out of the resources He has Blessed us!!!
    Thanks, again for giving of your time to share with us!

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