Tuesday, May 24, 2016

We Are Not What We Own

Oh, the joys of city living!” This morning two different people said these words as they passed me cleaning out the broken glass of my car. The backseat window had been broken. Nothing of importance was stolen, but a mess was made and left for me to clean up. 

The line they gave was one I have internalized since moving to San Francisco. We live in a city, which means sometimes we learn lessons we would rather do without.

I’ve come to expect a broken window every now and then. Still, it puts me in a bad mood. Anger rises within me as I wonder if someone really thought I had something they needed or if it was just a fun game. Break the window and run. 

It’s moments like these, when the city teaches me a lesson about my possessions: 

I am not my possessions. 
My possessions should not have power over me.
When my possessions are attacked or harmed, I am not attacked or harmed. 

Of course it sucks to have to clean up someone else’s mess. 
It sucks to pay for a new window because insurance won’t cover it.
It sucks to have to go through the hassle of finding a time when you can meet the window repairman in a parking lot and have them fix your car. 

But it’s just a nuisance. My day goes on. I go on without that window. 

The lesson city living teaches me is that we are not what we own. 

Our identity and value is not based off of the size of our home or the price of our car. In fact, we choose to keep an older car just for this reason. Sometimes it gets broken into or bumped  and the less attached we are to it, the better. 

Sometimes I find myself fantasizing about a 3 bedroom house in a suburb. With a garage AND ample parking on the street. I dream about land that I would own and do with as I please. I think about what I would do with more space to spread out and decorate. 

And someday I may enjoy all these things.

But for now, I catch myself and I give thanks that I don’t have those things. I give thanks for our 1 bedroom apartment that only takes an hour to fully clean. I give thanks for a limited space that forces us to limit the number of things that we own. It simplifies our life. It helps us make priorities and live into our values of simple living and generosity toward others. Having neighbors on the other sides of our walls reminds us to be thoughtful in how we live and how it affects others. 

Even the break ins, broken glass from our car on the street, reminds me that some of our neighbors are in such desperate need that their best resort is to break in and steal from others.

On good days, I take a few minutes and pray for them. I pray for me, too, that I would be grateful for what I have and generous in sharing with others.