Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | May 20, 2015

The Life in Your Years

There is little doubt that Americans are drowning in stuff. In spite of the fact that homes in America today are larger than ever before, people continue to run out of space for all of their stuff. As a result, Americans now spend 22 billion-dollars-per-year to store stuff they no longer need or want in self-storage units.

Once folks have crammed their unwanted junk into a storage unit, something interesting happens — people don’t want to mess with that stuff again. A group that serves the self-storage industry noted that human laziness has become a friend of self-storage operators. Once people get their stuff into a storage unit, they don’t want to spend all day moving their stuff out of that storage unit. So, they keep paying to store stuff they don’t want or need.

Thinking about all of the stuff that we think we need to have in order to live fulfilled lives started me thinking about some sage advice the Apostle Paul shared in the first century. “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am,” he wrote. Paul understood that true fulfillment is not found in the pursuit and accumulation of stuff. Material things might give us some instant gratification but, with the passing of time, we adapt to them and they become a part of our new normal and the excitement fades.

In reality, material things have an expiration date. Sooner or later whatever it is we purchased will become obsolete and we will be tempted to buy the upgrade — thus, more stuff. As a Christ-follower, I have found true fulfillment in my relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship has no expiration date. The challenge for me is to heed the words of the Apostle Paul and not allow myself to get drawn into the belief that accumulating more stuff will add meaning to my life.

3 Men and a Dog
In recent years I have come to a place of investing more in experiences than in the accumulation of stuff. Material things come with a bill but experiences come with something much more meaningful and fulfilling. For example, last year I hiked a hundred miles with a couple of my buddies. We battled blisters and cloud-bursts and muscle aches and heat. But, we became better friends in the process and will always have some cool stories to share about an experience that has no expiration date.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with having said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” I like that. Country singer George Strait captured this sentiment in his song entitled “The Breath You Take.” These are really good lyrics:

But life’s not the breath you take
The breathing in and out
That gets you through the day
Ain’t what it’s all about
You just might miss the point
Trying to win the race
Life’s not the breath you take
But the moments that take your breath away

In the long-run, experiences will bring more meaning and fulfillment to our years than anything we can possibly buy. Material things come with a bill but experiences come with life lessons and memories that we can treasure and enjoy for a lifetime. To borrow the sentiment of the old MasterCard television commercials, while you can buy a lot of stuff with your credit card, it’s what money can’t buy that is truly Priceless!

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