Stuffing or Dressing?

While I await transport to heaven, I’m keeping myself busy enough, but not too busy.  Every cell of my body and spirit knows that “this world is not my home.”   Most of you, from all I know, live much busier lives than I do because you have more demands on your lives.  Because I have only a husband to care for (and we work well as a team), I have more contemplative and study time.  My days are not stuffed.  Which reminds me of Thanksgiving and this Christmas season.

Paul and I baked a bird this year to feed a group of ten people around our beautiful Thanksgiving table. We don’t do turkey that often. We had to figure it out all over again. Not that hard. Traditionally, turkeys have been filled with stuffing. Nowadays, we’re encouraged to bake this mixture as a separate casserole, calling it dressing. Thus, when the mixture is stuffed into the bird, it is called stuffing. When it is baked separately, it is called dressing.

Stuffing fills a cavity. We fill lots of cavities in life with stuff.  I sorted through stacks of papers last week, filing some away and tossing much. It brought relief.  I reorganized and re-shelved books. I transformed one deep, built-in shelf that had displayed pictures and stuff into a book shelf to house my many textbooks and resource books that I’ve purchased this past year during my doctoral studies. Now the other books shelves aren’t stuffed and overflowing.  The shelves are neat and tidy now.

To avoid cluttering our lives with stuff, I’ve learned that we must take intentional action. Otherwise, stuff happens all around us and diminishes our space and lives. I once heard a wise wife tell her busy husband, the administrator of our Christian school, that when he says “Yes” to all these extra curricular school activities, he’s saying “No” to his family. Woe. I extrapolated that as a teaching lesson for me: for every Yes, there is at least one corresponding No. And in reverse, for every No, there is at least one Yes!

This principle can be applied to every area of life: use of time, money, things, goals, and space.  If I can do A, then I can’t do B or C with that time. If I can spend this money, then I can’t save it. If X is my goal, then Y cannot be (unless it is part of X, and then my goal is XY). If I use this counter to stack mail, then I can’t use it to write a letter (unless I clear the space). Excuse my simple logic. I’m not trying to insult you. I just find that life’s most basic principles and lessons never stop applying, no matter how mature we get. The lessons we learned in kindergarten still apply.

I know of a lady who did not know how to say No to things, to almost anything. She could not throw out cottage cheese containers, old papers, and boxes that things came in. She could not throw out newspapers. Her house became stacked with stuff.  Because she could not say No to stuff, she could not say Yes to a better use of her space, time, and talents. Home hospitality just would not work for her.

The principle applies to our thoughts and our relationships. When we say Yes to one thought, we are saying No to another (and to many others).  This makes me think of Hebrews 12:2, which tells us to “fix our eyes” on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. When we say Yes to Jesus, we can say No to lesser things.

I don’t mean we can’t do more than one things at once. We can!  We can think good thoughts, do good things, organize our space well, and still give attention to the duties of the day. I think of Brother Lawrence who could cook in his kitchen, working with clatter around him, and still “practice the presence of Christ.”  He learned to say Yes to an awareness of God’s presence in the common activities of life.  His example is “good stuff.” Instead of stuffing my life with the weight of clutter, I want to dress my life — with an awareness of the presence of Christ and an appreciation for the good things He’s given me to enjoy and share (Romans 13:14; Philippians 4: 8-9).

Well, there are some thoughts passing through my mind right now. How about you? Stuffing your life which weighs you down or dressing your life with Christ who declares that His burden is light?

      Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart;

and you shall find rest for your souls,

for my yoke is easy, and my load is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Categories: Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Stuffing or Dressing?

  1. kathy

    Simple truth, but so rich and freeing when intentionally applied!

  2. Marty Zuidervaart

    Brilliant (and clever) use of seasonal imagery to integrate faith and daily life!

    • kltolsen

      Thanks for the encouragement. This theme is very practical to me. My mind is always busy, stuffed with thoughts that can be blessings or distractions or burdens or debates. No matter what I stuff my mind and life with, I keep coming to Jesus to filter things. At the cross, I place my load and let Jesus dress me in His righteousness. There’s nothing more freeing and refreshing than a good cleansing. Only after receiving such blessings from Him can I then become a blessing. Life takes on the best meaning and joyful confidence when one becomes a blessing to others.

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