THE BLOG
01/18/2016 01:08 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2017

The Woman in the Empty Room: We Are Not What We Own

We can be made anonymous by too many possessions. Rather than being defined by them, we become overwhelmed by them. Lost among them; uncertain of who we are without them and so, dependent on them for identity and security.

We are socially engineered into believing we are nothing without our possessions. That the clothing we wear or the music we listen to or books we read or even the colors we paint the walls in our homes define us. In all of this sweeping mad consumerism, we ignore that we were made for so much more than to own things. This other side, the more important side, our spiritual, philosophical, searching side is underdeveloped, left un-nurtured in the pursuit of things.

However our hearts are not made light by owning. We can become wearied, worn down and even joyless. Burdened by all of our things that we buy to enable us to ignore the deeper, pressing questions of who are we really. Why are we here. Enable us to ignore that we all are born with nothing and we all die with nothing eventually.

My grandmother Leona died with nothing. I don't mean she was a poor woman though; neither was she a materially wealthy woman but she was rich in love and generosity. Her spirit was beautiful and rich. Ridiculously rich in all she gave to others. She lived on very little and all her concern was for other people. She didn't give from her "extra" store, she gave what she often couldn't manage to give. When she died, there wasn't anything to divide up. It had mostly been given away. She had nothing to leave but the memory of the richness of her gentle spirit. What a beautiful legacy.

So, what if we let it all go? What if we allowed ourselves to live as free beings unbound by possessions? Would we know who we are if we found ourselves living in an "empty room"? Would we know how to describe and define ourselves?

I don't want to be remembered as "Wow, she sure had a lot of clothing!" or "Colleen sure had a huge collection of books, remember?" I don't want people to smile ruefully and sum me up in these tidy little sentences. I want so much more and so much less. I want to be able to stand in an empty room and know who I am. Quietly, confidently, gently, richly know.

I want to live my life as the woman in the empty room. But also as a woman whose heart and mind and spirit are unbearably, unfathomably, disgustingly rich.

There is a quote by Steve Kellmeyer stating that, "We can not accept an expensive gift when our hands are full of cheap baubles. We must empty our hands so as to accept the rich gift that is offered."

Consider what "cheap baubles" could mean. We live our lives with our hands full of these and grasping for more, rarely satisfied or sated because these things do not satisfy. They do not sate. More creates a hunger for more. We become insatiable. Filling ourselves up until the very last thing we can do is give. There is no abundance or freedom to be found in owning, only in letting go.

We all perhaps have our own interpretation of cheap baubles that hold us back from growth and grace. Mine includes possessions, the idea of ownership, all the distractions of the world we live in, labels and definitions, opinions and expectations -- both our own and those of others about and for us.

These little trinkets fill our hands and rooms. When I think about "the empty room," I not only think material goods. I think what if we were to also let go of everything else as well and then simply, quietly and graciously accept the richest of gifts on offer.

The God-given gift of who we are.

Who we are has nothing to do with what we have or don't have. It has nothing to do with how other people view us. Who we are is not what we do or what we know. It is not what we have accomplished.

We are who we are even when everything else is stripped away. When we don't have a penny to our name. When we don't have a job that makes it easy for others to label us. When we don't write or paint or draw or have any skill in any area what so ever. We are who we are when we are ill. When people leave and abandon us. When our names are dragged through the mud. We are who we are when every one is against us. When there is not one friendly face to be seen anywhere.

When wealth, beauty, health, and ability have been taken away from us, we still have immeasurable worth.

My goal is to live remembering this.