Tuesday, May 3, 2011


This water bottle lost its battle with the dishwasher. Early in the morning Sawyer and I pulled it out as we were putting away dishes and panic set in to his mind.

Water bottle?” He said, his words laced with concern. “Not working? Not working!
Then his thoughts turned quickly to the owner of the bottle, fearing the same fate may have befallen her.
Mama! Mama ok?!” The worry was obvious this time.
What if Mama’s not ok? Her water bottle clearly isn’t. As Mama’s water bottle goes, so goes Mama?

Why does everything in man’s life have to be owned? It’s an old worldview conflict we talked about in grade school between the American settlers and the Native Americans. The settlers would parcel out and take ownership of land, while the Native Americans insisted land was not something to be owned, nor anything that the earth produced, only used. While I love the concept of the Native Americans and really do agree with and want to agree with it, I’m starting to have a hard time believing they truly lived the way the history books tell it. I don’t have any historical reason, only what I see in the heart of an ‘innocent’ child.

From day 1, we’ve made every effort to avoid the word “mine” and the concept of ownership with our son. It’s an ugly word, especially amongst other children. He’s 2 now, and in 2 years this concept we’ve tried to avoid has already permeated every thought he has. There have been times we’ve slipped up or ownership was nearly unavoidable (‘no Sawyer, Daddy’s shoes are too big, you need to wear yours’). But in general, we’ve always shied away from such words.

Even without our teaching, Sawyer has felt the necessity to label not just some things, but everything in the house. To be honest, it is cute to be reading a book and see a vacuum cleaner which he quickly labels as “Daddy’s”, or to pull out a tea cup (Mommy’s) and a glass (Daddy’s) to the names of the person most often using them. Still, it’s frustrating that we’ve tried so hard to avoid possession and yet it’s become a large part of his every thought.

So why does everything have to be owned? Is there some innate part of our brain that insists on possession? Do we have a natural need to categorize in that way? In my head and my heart, I know that I am living within God’s Kingdom, on this earth. And He is a good King. He promises to take care of me, my every need and beyond. He owns everything and everything is His. I’m simply using it. And yet I hang on tightly to the few euros in my bank account. I guard the walls of my home and my time with my family, sometimes insisting that our comfort is ‘ours’. I love our nomadic type of life that’s had us in 3 continents over 3 years, yet I cling to certain possessions that I won’t part with, and now that we’ve unpacked into a long-term home, I can’t help but really set up our little camp, our corner of the globe that belongs to us. Ugh, why can’t I escape it? I know better, this stuff, this place, this world and everything in it belongs to my God. He chooses where to put us and what to give us, shouldn’t that be enough!?

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