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Quality vs Quantity

Quality vs Quantity

Minimalist. I wish that described my nature. But it does not.

Opening my closet door while spanning the racks and shelves, I realize that I simply have too much. But it’s not just apparel…it’s everything. Too many dishes, too many towels, too many hair products, flatware, gift bags, books, and way too much food! Where does this need originate and how can I get it under control?

Emerging from a family of origin that kept a tight lid on lavishness in any way, partially due to meager finances, but maybe more, meager thinking, I was never informed that God is a God of abundance! He lavishes His love upon His sons and daughters with perfect gifts and provision. I remember having one pair of sneakers to last at least a whole year, and if they became “holey”, an insole-shaped cardboard cutout would be placed inside said sneakers and I’d get several extra miles out of them. And in my short cheerleading stint in seventh and eighth grades I was handed my big sister’s saddle shoes that were 2 sizes too big, rather than get new, well-fitted shoes for my feet. Looking back, everything felt skimpy.

So, how does this fit into the overabundance of junk and why does it appear to be a negative thing?

Well, first of all, shopping (hunter/gatherer??) feels empowering. Bringing the new stuff home is satisfying for a minute…and yeah, that minute feels right each time. Another shirt, another coffee mug, another tchotchke item to dust…I’ll make room for it all! But the hunt also brings with it a sense of disappointment or even incompleteness, so the cycle continues. It’s never soul-satisfying.

Have you ever just pondered why these “super stores” have expanded into these WAY massive structures? I walk down the aisles of Costco, Target, Walmart and many others, observing thousands of junk items, all awaiting their new home. We spend and spend, yet it amounts to very little when the purchase isn’t well thought out. Impulsive buying is what marketing is all about. We know you want it, and we have it. So, c’mon, and buy it!  And we do.

But the passage in Isaiah 55 is a reminder of what is truly satisfying. The prophet exhorts us to buy what is free! He tells us to stop spending money on what does not satisfy, all along inviting us into what our souls are truly craving, and that is the Lord, Himself. And while spending ourselves with time on Him, we truly find our place of contentment.

So much of what we acquire is of inferior quality. The foods we purchase have little nutrition. Our standards for quality have descended and we’ve settled for less than. But we compensate (or so we think) with massive amounts of counterfeit comforts. What appeals to the eyes rarely ever satisfies the soul. We’ve traded solid craftsmanship for glued particle board, quality materials for skimpy inferior ones, and nutrient-packed foods for empty calories. We’ve come to expect our items to break quickly (Would you like to purchase that extended warranty??), so we trash our stuff too soon, piling even more debris on our packed landfills.

How in the world can we escape this revolving door of compulsive consumerism?

I believe as Kingdom dwellers and seekers, we are wise to “seek first the kingdom of God” because “all these things will be added to you.” Let’s be intentional and think deeply about what we need versus what we want. Ask Holy Spirit to give us discernment to see beyond the marketing ploys and give us self-control, a much needed gift He bestows on His loved ones. And ponder how quality always trumps quantity. A well-made item with heart and skill crafted into it will be treasured more fully than mass produced, rubber-stamped junk items.

We live in a throw-away culture, but let’s not buy the lie that produces so much waste. I don’t know whether I’ll ever get to this place, but I cannot disagree with the writer of 1 Timothy who spoke to the church, encouraging them to be content in what they’ve been given. The verses are well worth repeating here: “Of course, godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, so we cannot carry anything out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.” (1 Tim. 6:6-8)

So, little by little I’m purging what is unnecessary and what lacks beauty. Just as I desire quality, depth, and loveliness in my Jesus walk, I desire the same in the material realm. I ain’t taking it with me when I’m gone, so minimizing now sounds like wisdom.

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Lori Travers

Lori finds the Joy of the Lord to be her strength. Born and raised an Italian Jersey girl, she has finally settled in the south as Reynolda Presbyterian church became her new home. Ministry to women, reading, writing, cooking, and anything having to do with animals are her sweet spots. Having a background in cardiac testing, she chose to stay home and raise three incredible children who are now married, and currently has 2 precious granddaughters and one faithful husband of 34 years.

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