For my wedding, I was given a set of beautiful flour sack towels. I couldn’t bear the thought of getting them dirty so I put them in the bottom of a drawer. Sometimes I’d see them in passing and touch the beautiful pattern, but I never took them out. I didn’t want them to get ruined.
Shortly after reading The Happiness Project, I heard Gretchen Rubin, the book’s author, talk about “spending out”. She noted saving something from ruin defeats the joy we gain from using it. I immediately grabbed the towels and began using them daily. Never has something so simple brought me such happiness.
I save things because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of running out, and this last year has been a lesson for me. I’m learning to use up my life – because that’s what it’s for.
Pour Out Your Heart
This impulse to “save” things makes me too careful. I get too obsessed with things instead of people, more worried about appearance than substance. So I save my stuff, my dreams, and my true feelings, bottling them up and out of sight. I think we all do this at times.
But this limited life is not what Jesus described for His disciples:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
When we withhold from our community emotionally and physically, we steal from ourselves. Thriving relationships only exist with vulnerability. These facades we craft for ourselves – the Pinterest-perfect family, face, or outfit – only keep us from biblical communion with one another. The community of believers should be a place of abundant life. It should be a safe place to pour out our hearts and spend out our lives. There is a difference between healthy boundaries and truly investing in those around us. It’s a risk, but it’s worth it.
Spend Out Your Life
I like to “save” my schedule, too. I protect it two weeks at a time, a veritable guard dog over my days. Some of this is simple wisdom; we need space in our schedules to love our families well. But our schedule is part of our lives… not life itself.
Using up our lives means spending out our time. I think about the next fifty years, assuming that I have that many. Do I want to look back on a carefully protected life? One hedged in from inconvenient people and tasks? No – I don’t want to “save” these days until they’re gone, relegated to a joyless kitchen drawer. I don’t want my Tuesday to pass by without meaning because I didn’t want to ruin The Schedule.
This life is the only one we have. It’s our only opportunity to make an impact in a fallen world. It’s our chance to spend every last minute doing something for the kingdom of God.
Live Out Your Calling
I’ve talked about putting down roots where God has you. If you’re confused about your calling, stop looking ahead and look down. Look at your feet. Look at your place. Look where God has rooted you today. Live this out, and your calling becomes clear.
We don’t need to save our minutes for future greatness, but live greatly in the minutes we have. These mundane days are the stuff of character. We aren’t refined in the mountaintop moments but in the long, arduous, crucible of normal. It is here our lives prove fruitful. It is here we put down roots.
Everything within us has a purpose: our hearts, desires, dreams, gifts and goals are suited for the kingdom of God because Christ has redeemed us for His glory. We can “save” them – bottle them up and out of sight – but what good will that accomplish? We accomplish good when used by God. And if that’s the case, I want to be used up.
I want to reach the end of my life completely spent for His glory.