Have you ever watched the show “Stuffocated”? I saw it for the first time last night and am still marveling that one three-person family could have over 12,000 pounds of stuff in their small three-bedroom home. The inherent message of the show—it’s relationships that matter, not material possessions—got me thinking about our emphasis on gift-giving (and gift-receiving) during the holiday season. THAT got me thinking about the ubiquitous game “White Elephant.”
I decided to look up its origin. Apparently, in times past, the King of Siam would bestow upon his enemies the “gift” of a white elephant. Because the recipient could not dishonor the king by giving it away or destroying it, and because the upkeep of such a gift was exorbitantly expensive and time-consuming, the enemy would become bankrupt. His single royal possession would consume all of his resources causing him and his family to die.
The extreme clutter in the TV family’s home had become their own species of white elephant, zapping their energy, harming their health, and consuming nearly all of their time and financial resources. Only when the “Stuffocated” team of experts cleared out over 7,000 pounds of stuff could the family breathe freely, focus on one another, and invite friends into their home.
Stuff. Relationships. Relationships. Stuff. What takes priority in our lives?
Both the Old and New Testaments make it clear that, by far, its relationships that matter most. The two great commandments are: (1) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (2) “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12: 28-31) So it would seem that three of life’s key questions are: What is my relationship to God? What is my relationship to myself? What is my relationship to my fellow man?
I’m not sayin’ that we mustn’t enjoy giving and receiving at this wondrous time of year. I’m simply suggesting that we remember the primary purpose of life: to grow and develop rich relationships with our Living God, with ourselves, and with one another.
If we start to get caught up in the hurry scurry of the holidays, let’s all remember to take a breath and focus on what matters most.
Lest we fill our hearts and houses with white elephants.
Photo by Flickr (Drain)