Stuff : how identity changes our values | The Speckled Goat: Stuff : how identity changes our values


Stuff : how identity changes our values

 Christian devotions, free online devotions, devotional thoughts, short devotions, online daily devotional

In middle school, I desperately wanted one thing. I wanted it so much that it consumed my thoughts, brought jealousy into my heart, and became the scale with which I measured all the people around me.

I wanted an Abercrombie t-shirt.

Nothing fancy, just something (anything) that had those magical words, "Abercrombie and Fitch" emblazoned across the front.

Looking back now, it is a little silly, but the power of that t-shirt really captivated my pre-teen mind.

It wasn't the shirt that I wanted, really. It was the status.

See, all the cool kids, all the popular girls, had Abercrombie clothes. All of them. And I, well... I did not. Those name brand clothes were expensive (still are, I'd assume), and my family didn't make fancy clothes a financial priority. I had lots of clothes. But they just didn't have that glorious brand name.

And heavens, I wanted that brand name. Because if I could wear that shirt, then I could be "in."

In all honesty, I don't think that many of us are far off from my middle school self.

It's stereotypical, I know, but we all know the narrative of the middle-aged man buying a fancy car to reclaim himself. A woman carrying a Gucci handbag will be taken more seriously in a store than someone carrying a department store purse. Having the right clothes, the right house, car, boat, shoes, wedding ring... all those things still make a difference to us, even (and maybe even more so) after we are grown.

We still want stuff. We still use stuff for a measuring stick to evaluate the people around us. We still find meaning and identity in our possessions.

Strangely enough, we also find meaning in our lack of possessions.

I know that, for me, my thrift store habit is a point of pride. I haven't bought jeans for over $10 in years (years), and I'm kind of proud of that. I like getting the deal, finding the discount. And again, just like the guy who bought the Ferrari, I find identity in stuff.

The trouble with this, of course, is what happens when we can't keep up.

When the stock market crashes, when that great deal ends up costing us more money, when a job ends... when we lose the house, or the car, or the boat, who are we then?

And for that matter, when we determine worth based on possessions, we value human beings wrongly.

The CEO may be a rich person, but that doesn't tell us anything about his or her character. The homeless drifter may not have anything to his name, but that doesn't mean that he is any less valuable than that CEO. If we base our evaluation of human beings on what they have, we'll be shallow, prejudiced, unkind, and very often wrong.

And so we go back to the questions:

Who am I? 

I am one in whom Christ dwells. 

The money I spend and the money I save do not define me.

My stuff is not my worth. 

I am not defined by what I have or don't have, but by who I am in Christ- and that means that if I don't get the Abercrombie shirt, if I don't get the awesome deal, if I don't have the right car, I am still secure in who I am in Him.

Where do I live? 

I live in the unshakable Kingdom of God. 

My bank account may dwindle, my house could burn down, I could rip that fancy shirt, and I'd still be part of the Kingdom.

I can trust God with the things I can't control. 
The important things in life aren't really things at all- and where my treasure is, my heart will be also. 

Knowing who we really are as Christians, and living in that truth, allows us to open our hands and give. It allows us to be less concerned about what people think. It allows us to stand on one thing and one thing alone- who we are in Christ Jesus because of what he's done for us. We don't have to buy it or wear the right thing or drive the right car- it's freely given to us, and it cannot be taken away.

Related Posts:

Christians exercise identity in Christ  Christians fear identity  Christians finding identity devotion

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  1. Your post really spoke to me. Normally I am a very frugal person, happy with whatever I have. But sometimes discontent raises it's ugly head and takes over. Making me unhappy with pretty much everything. I have to remind myself of exactly what you have said and, when I do, I find peace again. I wish I could learn this lesson once but, as the flawed human I am, I must repeat it over and over I guess.

    1. I seem to need constant reminders myself! I'm glad this post encouraged you!

  2. This made me smile SO much. I could totally relate! For so long I wanted to be the one in the Abercrombie shirt too! When I couldn't be, I decided it was cooler to be vintage and thrifty and unique. Later, I married a man who liked "stuff" and all of a sudden, I had most all of the "stuff" I wanted only to realize that the accumulation of "things" NEVER ends. Once you get Abercrombie, you want Armani. One you get Armani you need an Austin Martin. Okay, not that I got to that point but you know what I mean. "I am the one in who Christ dwells". I love that!

    1. Is it bad that I've never heard of that Austin guy? ;) But you're totally right, gaining possessions never ends, because it never actually fills us. It can't ever make us into someone new. Only Christ can do that.

  3. Great post! I can relate to the "lack of possessions" part. As a homeschooler, it was almost a competition to see who could get the better deal on clothes. I'll never forget sitting in my college marketing class when the professor asked everybody to share a brand they were promoting in that minute. For almost everybody, she called out items before they could. Then she got to me and a look of puzzlement crossed her face. "What do you have that's branded?"

    "My shoes are Nike?" I offered her, inwardly laughing because they were the cheapest pair of tennis shoes that were comfortable to me.

    All that aside, I was always jealous of North Face jackets. Sometimes I still spot a North Face and wish that I was wearing it. that I've commented on everything but the actual point of the post, I'll say great job! This was very relatable.

    1. Haha I'm glad you can relate! I tend to be on the frugal side of things, too. I am looking at getting a good pair of winter boots since I live in Colorado now... and the ones my brother recommended are like, $80. And just... That's a lot.

      But what I buy and what I don't buy doesn't make me who I am- Christ does.

  4. I love thrift store shopping and get most of my clothes from there! I love finding treasures and have good taste, so I find gems! And I love your thoughtful reminders how what really matters is Jesus and His love for us, that we can never be satisfied without Him. Aren't we so blessed! Visiting from Christian Bloggers Unite!

  5. Lovely piece. Shared in my Fb page.

  6. Yes yes yes. So good. I love how you hit the nail on the head that our identity is in God not people's opinions or stuff. A walking journey for me too

  7. These are such good words! "My stuff is not my worth." Oh, yes. And really, that speaks volumes to how differently we should be viewing the foundation for our whole lives. Thanks for sharing these great reminders. I'm blessed to be your neighbor over at #TellHisStory this week!

  8. Yes! Thanks for highlighting both ends of it- we can be prideful and get our identity mixed up over having or over not having stuff.