God 52 – Week Fifteen (9/4/13)

9 Apr

A prime example. I owned this, obviously.

My garage was a temple to Mammon. One wall was completely filled with the most comprehensive movie collection a man could wish for – an alphabetised shrine to cinema, containing DVDs of the greatest films ever made (and Transformers). Not only DVDs – two-disc special edition DVDs. Limited edition collectors tin DVDs. Fold-out-Optimus-Prime-figure-edition DVDs.

I don’t think I’ve ever put the second disc from a two-disc special edition into my DVD player. But I’ve bought 100s of the things. Why?Because the marketing draws me in – like popcorn sizing that promises so much more for a modest price increase – and every time it does, it strengthens the hold of materialism in my life. So while I didn’t watch them, I enjoyed the shiny packaging – the sense of having obtained great possessions. Often I would walk into my garage, like some very rubbish version of Alexander the Great, and survey all that I had conquered (from HMV).

A few years ago, I started exploring the Spiritual Disciplines, one of which is Simplicity. Practicing Simplicity requires us to ask three questions of ourselves: a) where should I do less, b) where should I have less, and c) using the space created by the first two, what should I do more? We practice Simplicity in order to rebalance our lives – to work out where we’re badly investing our time or resources, or where our ‘stuff’ or our busyness is getting in the way of the important things in life: time with God, friends, family; resting, and feeding the soul.

God spoke very clearly to me as I tried to work out how to practice this discipline. The wall of DVDs had to go. So – very painfully – I sat one night and disassembled my collection. The films themselves – the good ones at least – went into a plain library folder to keep; the shiny boxes went into black bin liners. And all those disc twos – the things I’d paid an extra five pounds for just to make me feel smug? They went into the black bags too. I tossed the whole lot into the council tip – and as I did so, I felt an enormous sense of freedom.

This week then, we’re going to practice the discipline of Simplicity together, and focus on that second question: where should I have less? And to that end, here’s the challenge:

15: Get rid of something you want, but don’t need.

Identify one possession (or more) which you like, but isn’t actually vital to you. Don’t choose something of great sentimental value – rather find something of material worth which is hard for you to give away, but which you don’t really need. If you want to take that a stage further, see if you can choose something which actually gets in the way of your relationship with God and others – but it doesn’t need to be that complicated. Perhaps you simply want to get rid of something in order to say: ‘I own my material possessions – not the other way around.’

It’s up to you how you dispose of your possession – but I’d suggest that this offers a perfect opportunity to also practice generosity – so you could give it to a friend or to a charity shop, or sell it on ebay and give the proceeds away.

If the challenge seems too easy, make it more difficult. The act of giving up should hurt a little; the resulting sense of liberation will more than compensate.

Take that, materialism!

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on practicing simplicity, please read our writing guidelines, then drop me an email.


7 Responses to “God 52 – Week Fifteen (9/4/13)”


  1. Johanna Derry on Burning Buildings | God 52 - April 10, 2013

    […] our first guest post on this week’s challenge topic of Simplicity, journalist Johnanna Derry explains how the 2011 London riots caused her to reflect on what she […]

  2. Hardcore simplicity? by Mina Munns | God 52 - April 12, 2013

    […] worker Mina writes in response to this week’s challenge by sharing the story of what happened when she tried to be a nun… and then […]

  3. Living out of a suitcase, by Chris Wilson | God 52 - April 12, 2013

    […] in response to this week’s challenge, teacher Chris reflects on how moving abroad forced him to re-engage with the ‘nice […]

  4. Challenge 15 : Get Rid Of Something You Want, But Don’t Need | My #God52 - April 14, 2013

    […] as an overly materialistic person but this was a tough challenge.The bits of Martin’s post (https://god52.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/god-52-week-fifteen-9413/) that really jumped out at me was ‘see if you can choose something which actually gets in the […]

  5. An anonymous post on death and simplicity | God 52 - April 15, 2013

    […] another week of God 52 draws to a close, this post responds to the simplicity challenge by reflecting on what she learned from sorting her husband’s possessions after his […]

  6. The Man Room, by Robbie Thomson | God 52 - April 15, 2013

    […] our focus on simplicity draws to a close, writer Robbie Thomson suggests that some things may not be as important as we […]

  7. God 52 – Week Thirty Four (20/8/2013) | God 52 - August 20, 2013

    […] pack I discover one thing – I’m a hoarder. (Martin has already covered some of this in week fifteen). Me and my girlfriend went through mountains of clothes, many of which I haven’t worn or […]

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