Saturday, May 12, 2007

CrazyD's Icca

An Ethiopian adoption changes things in more ways than just having additional kids in the house. My perception of my own materialism has also been changing.

62 full size dinner plates

When we were in Ethiopia visiting with some new missionary friends, they spoke of the effort it took to sell all that they had in order to free themselves from America: the business, the primary house, the cars, the beds, the couches, the blenders, the tools, the lawn mower. . .

2 refrigerators and 2 chest freezers

They did not sell all that they had. They kept the second home, the photos, and the family heirlooms. They also kept a host of other things that makes them really wealthy: access to clean water, access to health care, and access to bank accounts.

107 shirts for CrazyD - full family count too painful

This family tells me that many Ethiopians want to come to America - to be Americans. Americans have so much icca, "stuff" in Amharic. And they want icca, too.

3 cars

They want icca? I want less icca. They don't know what if feels like to be claustrophobic in a multi-thousand square foot home. Our home is only cleaned up if everything is skillfully packed/stacked/stored into closets/corners/crawl spaces with the same care as packing a suitcase.

9 bikes, 1 tag-a-long, 1 two seat child trailer, 4 scooters, 3 big wheels, and 1 wagon

But when I am honest with myself, I realize that I don't want less of my stuff. I want less of the kids' stuff and less of CrazyMom's stuff. My stuff is already trim. What I have, I tell myself, is necessary and important. I want to clear the house of all of the junk. The McDonald's Happy Meal toys, the birthday party grab bag items, participation trophies, broken toys of sentimental value, rarely used placemats, half of CrazyMom's shoes, and the fish.

9 sinks

But now, in my post-adoptive state, I am beginning to realize that I am the one with the icca problem. The solution to my icca problem is not to pick up a copy of "Storage Systems for Success" or "The Art of Clutter Clearing." This is not the solution because even if the clutter were cleared and the rest was neat and tidy, I would still have an icca problem. My problem is that I use my limited time and resources to take care of my stuff.

185 music CDs

It was not just my trip to Ethiopia that changed my thinking, it was adopting. Adopting Ethiopian children has given me a heart for the people of Ethiopia in a way that just traveling there would not. In my home I now get to see Ethiopian children side-by-side with all of my icca, and all of the icca is pretty icky compared to them.

1,252 books - not counting the books in the crawl space

I now realize that I have bought into the American lie while believing I had not. The American lie tells me that I need something that I don't have, right now, and that that something will make my life a little better/happier/easier/more fulfilling. That a new gas grill will in some way satisfy me more than sponsoring an orphan in need.

1 hockey table, 1 foosball table, 1 skee-ball table, 1 Basket Brawl

I have always told myself that I am not materialistic. I don't drive fancy cars, we shop at thrift stores, I would rather go to jail than to a mall, and I don't own an iPod - yet. But I now realize that this is not true. I am materialistic. Look at what I own. And deep inside of me I am beginning to feel that there is some conflict between what I own and my desire to care for orphans.

1 four drawer filing cabinet and 4 two drawer filing cabinets

A conflict between owning stuff and helping orphans? In America, this is an absurd thing to say. These things don't seem mutually exclusive. In America, it seems the more I own the more I will be able to give away. But now I am beginning to wonder.

3 film cameras, 3 digital cameras, a host of lenses, and 1 digital video camera

In my hands I see all of the worldly possessions that I own and my fingers are wrapped around them. All around me I see people in need and I want to lend a hand. But I can't. My hands are full.

No time for Johnny who is hurting. I need to mow/mulch/trim/pull weeds/spray/fertilize.
No time for Sally who is down. I need to pick up/repair/refinish/rearrange/install.
No time to care for God's people. I need to care for my stuff.

1 large stereo, 3 portable stereos

Christ stood on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. He called to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew.

"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Here is what Scripture says that they did: "And they immediately left their nets, and followed him." (Matt 5:20)

They left it all behind. Nets, boats, and fishing gear are the things that keeps us from being able to go along with Christ. Michael Card has a song about this scene with the line:

"And it's hard to imagine the freedom we find
From the things we leave behind"

Father God, I pray that you will cause my fingers to uncurl so that my hands are free to do Your work in this world. Amen.

1 life to give


emily said...

Wow...I needed to read this today.

Owlhaven said...

Amazing post

Mary, mom to 10, including 2 still waiting in Ethiopia

julie said...

This was a great post. Our family recenty rented a dumpster for a month and got rid of a lot of our "treasures". You are right when you say they take up way to much of our precious time.

marian said...

Sent here by Owlhaven...
GREAT post! We cannot possibly be reminded of this enough.

marian, mom to 4, including one from Ethiopia

gretchen lee said...

linked from Owlhaven...exactly how I've been feeling...beautifully written!

Our garage sale is in 2 weeks...but I'm liking the dumpster idea, too!

jen said...

Got here from Owlhaven.
Such a good post! Thank you!

Heidi said...

Here from Mary's too...

What a wonderful post - very insightful. We are currently selling our house and going through SO much stuff that I just don't want. Thanks for giving me even more permission so to speak to give it up.!!!

Sophie said...

Thanks for that. When I came back from my first stint in Ethiopia (10 weeks), I thought I would never be able to shop again. I walked into WalMart a few days after returning home, and was so overwhelmed that I had to turn around and walk right back out. We are just swimming in STUFF!!! Funny how perceptions change, isn't it?

Dead Lennie said...

Very moving account. So very true, and wonderfully edited, etc. (Really!)

So, um, being a little less enlightened (but I'm getting there!), um, I'd be happy to help you out, you know, by, like, taking some of your stuff off your hands. . .

Rae said...

Also found you thru Owlhaven. We have similar feelings over here. A good book to read on this subject (and much more) is "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. It's quite radical, but helpful in exploring our perspectives. My thoughts at: if you care! ;)

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog via Matt & MR. It's great!! Thanks.