HEARTLAND | Meredith Flynn
There’s a line in “Gidget” (the movie version with Sandra Dee, not the Sally Field TV show) that I love. Moondoggie, the surfer boy Gidget pines over, finally gets fed up with her antics and spats, “Do you know what your problem is?” He doesn’t wait for an answer before telling her:
“You’re just too much!”
It’s a fun scene and a silly line (and makes me long for the day when that was the worst insult you could hurl at someone), but lately, it’s had a lot of resonance in my life. Because I, with my full garage, storage shed, and four closets, am too much. Or at least, I have too much.
And I blame Jen Hatmaker for making me realize it. You may have seen her book “7” or read a recent review of it in the Illinois Baptist. It’s a great book, and worth your time, but read with caution because I promise you, everywhere you look, you’ll see areas where you’re living in excess. Let me confess (a few of) mine to you:
- At any given time, there are five to seven almost-empty cereal boxes in the pantry. (Rather than eat the “gravel” at the bottom of the box, I just buy a new one.)
- I have never met a cardigan sweater I didn’t need.
- I find it much easier to spend an hour looking up recipes I will never make on Pinterest than to read my Bible for a half hour.
If pressed, I probably would have described each of these things as bad habits. But I didn’t see them as part of a spiritual problem (except for that last one). The basic premise of “7” is that we often need to downsize our “stuff” to receive more of what God wants for us.
The book chronicles the Hatmaker family’s efforts to simplify their lives in seven areas: food, clothing, possessions, spending, media, waste and stress. While I wouldn’t have diagnosed myself as “excessive” in any of those categories, I had felt the dullness Hatmaker writes about:
- I talk about having no free time, but squander the hours I do have.
- Even as I accumulate “stuff,” I continue to compare myself to others who seem to have more.
- I am often numb to the material needs of people right in front of me.
I started to realize that maybe “excess” wasn’t as extreme a word as I once thought. Maybe the warning signs were all there, in every full drawer, bursting cabinet, and hard-to-close closet. I needed, and still need, fresh eyes to see the places in my life where I am just too much.
I’m thankful for the lesson, even as I choke down this cereal gravel from the bottom of the box.