By Seana Scott
About a year ago my family hired a moving company to take our stuff—almost everything we owned—from Texas to Pennsylvania. About six months later, we finally moved into our house and the moving company never showed up. Yep. They never. Showed. Up.
We were told by authorities to never expect our things again. Never expect my homemade footprint Christmas ornaments. Never expect our baby quilts or signed books by my mom who passed last year. Never to expect the child rocking chair handed down from generation to generation.
Then the crazy thing happened.
Saturday, before Mother's Day, more than a year after we boxed up all our belongings, the crook moving company delivered our stuff.
Yep. Welcome to my crazy life.
The Blessing of Stuff
I have big feelings about all of this.
One day I'm going for a hike and the next moment, it's moving day? That's adrenaline-rush kind of crazy.
I called the local police, who called the federal investigator, who told them to dispatch cops to our house when the truck arrived because these guys extort money.
So, after an evening of a driveway full of armed police officers, and angry moving guys from a shoddy company placing our boxes in each room—I sat down and cried.
Thankful, stressful, tired tears.
Because this year God forced me to let go of everything physical that steadied me in this world: My belongings and childhood home we sold after mom died.
I told myself, “It’s only things. It doesn’t matter.” But, maybe things do matter.
I started pulling out items from the cardboard U-HAUL boxes after church on Mother’s Day.
- The soft stuffed elephant my late brother-in-law bought Kavin, my son, when he was born.
- The baby activity center each of my kids bounced around in for hours and listened to cows moo and pigs oink while I cooked dinner or swept floors.
- The wooden cross our seminary friends from Nebraska gifted us when they moved.
- The clay lantern my husband and I bought in Romania on our first mission trip together.
I held in my hand the things I lived without. I do not need them for a full life. I do not need them for a blessed life, purposeful life, or a quality life.
But in some way, they still hold power. And they move me from restrained stone heart of "this is only stuff" to "this is sacred."
But how can plastic, clay, fabric and glass be sacred?
Theology of Stuff
This blog post is much too short to do a dissertation on all things relating to theology and stuff, but here are two things God is teaching me about the “stuff” through this strange experience.
Stuff is not our treasure.
Matthew Chapter 6 exhorts us to not store up for ourselves things or treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal (hello to my life). But to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven...for where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.
The Father in Heaven is our ultimate treasure and the people on earth He created in His image are also treasures. Stuff rots, rusts, breaks, or gets stolen.
Stuff still matters for the Kingdom.
Even though stuff is just stuff, it matters for the Kingdom.
1. Stuff matters because physicality matters. God sent His Son, Jesus, in the flesh. The incarnate Son of God came as matter, substance, and form, to tangibly pay for the penalty of our sin.
2. Stuff matters because beauty matters. God reveals Himself through what's called "general revelation" in the world. In other words, when we see the beauty of a flower or the tail of a squirrel running up a tree—when we feel the spray of a crashing wave or stand below a towering sequoia, God's beauty, splendor, and majesty are on display. Beauty matters because God created it to bring Him glory.
3. Stuff matters because worship matters. We worship God through the sacrament of communion by the use of stuff. The broken bread. The pressed fermented grapes. We experience relating to God through the Eucharist by the substance of the bread and the wine themselves. Stuff matters.
4. Stuff matters because home matters. What is it within me to want to hang curtains, paint walls, and decorate my home? Is it just a waste of time? Since my treasure is not on earth, am I dishonoring God by using and buying stuff to cultivate my home environment?
As I unpack these boxes and organize legos one moment, then dream about where to put up the framed wedding picture, I realized that even though my life was full before this stuff came back in, this stuff helps me create a home that feels like home.
Stuff helps me form beauty out of chaos, a place of safety when the world outside beats hard—a place of belonging when my kids feel rejected from the bully on the bus—a place where we feel at home.
5. Stuff matters because home matters to God. And a home requires cultivation with the things in the world God already made.
The Gift From The Thieves
It's still hard to say this, especially written out, but the thieves gifted me a theology of stuff when they took it all and waited so long to return it.
Stuff is now a tool and a beauty.
As I pull out wall sconces from squished U-HAUL boxes, I ask myself, "Do we need this or does it add order or beauty to our home?" If yes, it stays, and if not, it goes into the blessing pile.
Thank you, thieves, for teaching me that stuff matters, because space matters, because people matter. Stuff matters because God matters, and He made matter. Stuff matters because beauty matters. Stuff matters because we cultivate the places we live, work, and play.
Seana Scott is a mom of 3 and a pastor’s wife. She is finishing up her master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and is passionate about encouraging women to grow in their relationships with Jesus and in studying God’s Word. If she is not in the middle of mothering her kids or housework, she is hiking, writing, or entrenched in a creative pursuit (which changes depending on her current artistic obsession). You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or on her blog.