I met with my spiritual director again today. I must say, I've been really enjoying these meetings. At first, I was attending them because it was a requirement for my program, but even though the requirements have been met, I'm glad I've stuck with it because I've been discovering things that I perhaps would not have otherwise. At this spiritual direction meeting, I found myself talking about the issue of excess that I'm struggling with. I've mentioned that I have been reading the book 'The Irresistible Revolution' by Shane Claibourne. I've been reading this book for a few weeks now, and although it's not a difficult read and could have been read in a couple days, I have a hard time getting through very much of it without needing to stop and reflect on what I've just read. Before meeting with my spiritual director, I found myself reading this book over some lunch. I read about the issue Jesus talks about regarding someone who has 2 cloaks to give it to someone who doesn't have any. As I read this, my mind naturally found its way to thinking about my shoes. In previous posts, I've talked about my shoe collection and the plethora of footwear I have lying around my room. As I began to think about the excess I have and those who don't have any, I naturally felt the need to give away my shoes. The troubling thing was I actually began to feel VERY sad about having to give away something that I cared for!! During this thought process, I mentally scanned through my shoe collection and wondered which pair I could do without. As I began to think, my thought process led me to think back to an incident in Detroit during my time of being on staff at my church. I was going with a group of students to a low income housing project in Nashville. We had gone to the same place for 3 consecutive summers, so we had begun to build some fabulous relationships with people in the community. As we were preparing for this trip, I asked one of the coordinators, John, if there was anything we could help with or provide. He said that they were trying to start a computer center for the community, and if we could bring computers, monitors and printers down, that would be a great help. So a call went out to ask the church for donations of computers and other components we could bring down. Over a matter of a couple weeks, the response was tremendous!! We were able to fill a room with all the donations and spent a better part of a week going through what people had brought in. Although we had a lot of stuff, we soon realized that nearly 3/4 of the stuff we got was obsolete and unusable. As I thought about what had been brought in, it seemed like people were amazingly generous, but as we looked at what we got, we realized that much of it was garbage. Please know that I'm not passing judgement on those who gave what they had. I do not see into the hearts of those who donated their stuff, so I'm not criticizing these people. The reason I mention this incident is because it made me think about where my heart is when it comes to the issue of giving. So often, I give what comes naturally and easy, but it seems like I rarely ever find myself needing to sacrifice anything. I may give time to volunteer here or there, but time is something that I seem to have a lot of these days, so it's not a real stretch to give in that way. But as I think about giving away things that I do care about, like my shoes, I'm much more hesitant. During this hesitation, I had to beg the question 'Why?' Why is it so hard for me to sacrifice things? Why have I allowed myself to become so attached to material possessions? Why is it so easy to horde things while people are living lives without the stuff that I have an excess of? I have so many questions, but not many answers, but one thing I think I'm beginning to realize, and that is this: I am very greedy, and I hate this about myself. I want to stop living like a squirrel and trying to gather as much stuff as I can. I want to live more generously and more selflessly. I want to quit storing things and building into my own imaginary kingdom, and start building into the Kingdom by caring more for the needs of others. This has been a really hard realization to arrive at, and I'm afraid of what God's asking me to do. Hopefully my actions will reflect this conviction and not submit to my selfish desires.