On sweatshops, stuff, stewardship and starfish*

UnknownJust been thinking a lot lately about ‘stuff.’ We clearly have too much of it. I have been on a mission this year to clear out one room a month of unnecessary stuff. My new motto is: if it doesn’t serve a purpose and we do not love it, then we must get it to a new owner to find a new purpose and a new love. There are so many great organizations to donate to. Doing so has made me acutely aware of how we have been blessed. And how that blessing can become a burden if not managed with good stewardship.

Our family has had many discussions over the past couple years about this whole topic. We have all become more mindful and intentional in our buying. I have (too) often brought things home thinking I ‘needed’ them, but within that 60 day return period I have been convicted to march many things right back to the store where purchased. Confession: I thought I needed a new summer Kate Spade bag in a bright new color – even though I had a drawer of ‘summer bags’ from years past that are quite adorable. I returned it and didn’t look back. I kept thinking how much good that money could do through several great charities we support.

We are faced with decisions everyday on how to spend our money. Our family has decided that ‘less is indeed more.’ We still struggle and we still love new things, but what has changed is that we are all much more intentional. Leaning on Luke 12:48 “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” We desire to be good stewards.

I have been reading Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo and it is excellent! I’m in the last chapter on Dialogue on National Debt and this quote by Shane really drives this home in such a poignant way:

“One of the most powerful protests I’ve ever been to was about sweatshops. But this one was different. Instead of bringing in activists and speakers, they flew in the kids from the sweatshops to tell their stories. I remember this one kid had a scar all the way down his face, and he said, “This is from my master who beats me almost every day.” He said, “One day he beat me so bad my face was bleeding and then he took a lighter and burnt my face back together so I could keep working. And all of this was so I could make stuff for you.” That was his last line. I remember thinking, Jesus feels the scar down that kid’s face, for as we do it to the least of these we do it to Christ. Who are the masters I give money to and don’t even know it? 7”

I want to ramp up my monetary stewardship to be so highly intentional that I consider that young boy who is being abused under the guise of consumerism. There are so many difficult issues mentioned here. Complicated, yet simple. It can be so overwhelming. I just want to be sure and do my part. I want to make a difference in some way, every day. Like the story goes: “An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. ‘Why do you bother?’ the old man scoffed. ‘You’re not saving enough to make a difference.’ The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. ‘Made a difference to that one,’ he said.”

And to ‘that one’ the difference is huge.


*Dedicated to my longtime neighbor, turned dear friend. She has inspired me on this journey of peeling off stuff. She has endured more that anyone should have to in this life. She may not realize it or know it, but she has been a great example of persevering through and in the impossible.


About along the journey

public private ramblings - myfullemptynest
This entry was posted in Compassion, Consumerism, Empty Nest, Family, Religion & Christianity, Stewardhip, Sweatshops and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On sweatshops, stuff, stewardship and starfish*

  1. pltk says:

    Thinking through many of these issues myself. Planning that when we return from this year in China where we have been happy with a whole lot less to make that also an aspect of our lives in the US where we have been accumulating so much that adds little to our joys.

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