What am I teaching my children every time I say, don’t scratch that, don’t break that, the pillows belong on the couch!? Do I show them that people matter over things? Yes, we must respect our possessions and treat them well, but when a plate breaks, does my temper break too? It’s just a plate, and they are a soul, a person created in the image of God to exist for all eternity.
What am I saying to myself when I buy a new shirt, new shoes, new handbag? Do I value people or do I value stuff? Who made this and what is their story? How did it come to be here with me today? And in turn, again, what am I teaching my children? Do we have a house full of stuff or a house full of laughter and joy and freedom because the stuff we do own was created with laughter and joy and freedom? We value our own lives over our stuff and we value the people’s lives who created it over the stuff.
How I react to our stuff decides how they will react to it out in the world. Someone scratches their car in the parking lot over an honest misjudgment of space. What do they value, the stuff or the person? Our children grow up to be the workers of tomorrow, will they value the worker or the bottom line? We wonder why workaholism runs rampant, but what have we taught our children to value? The productivity at the end of the day or a life lived in love towards their neighbor and their self?
We are not human doings, we are human beings, created in love so that we, in turn, may love that which the Creator made in his image. It’s a choice every day to love people over stuff. There is room for stuff in our lives but only when it is secondary is it able to take a place where it enhances beauty and pleasure and fun. Whether it is something we create ourselves to able to steward this home we’ve been given to welcome our neighbor and better their life because we put in first priority people, every person.
More and more I’m learning the lessons I want to pass down to the next generation are the values I want my own life to be transformed and defined by. First I must examine my own heart to see what plank I need to remove from my own eye. Where am I valuing stuff over people? Who is my neighbor right in front of me today to love? How can I use stuff to enhance the beauty around me and the lives of those I’ve been given to love?