Living a simply uncluttered life sounds great but how do we actually get there? You may be like me and are weary of living the over-complicated, overly cluttered life where you have made everything way too complicated and are scattered in too many directions.
Our culture doesn’t help, with so much information coming at us at rapid speed. So many things to do, to work on, to change, to improve, to manage. So many viewpoints, beliefs, ideologies, and theories to wade through.
The vast “self-help” section of the local bookstore tells me that I’m not the only one looking for answers.
I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to strip things down in order to focus on what is really important and valuable instead of just noisy and confusing.
I’m wondering if it’s possible to clear out some of the toxic belief systems I myself have adopted in my own life that keeps me feeling overwhelmed and defeated all the time.
One such area is one I think a lot of people struggle with. Feeling valued and being valuable. The constant desperation we feel to be validated by others can become consuming. The constant striving to prove ourselves worthy is exhausting.
As I read through the Bible, it seems like God is telling us that there is an easier way. A way that leads to peace. A way that leads to rest.
This winter, I made my annual trek down to Arizona to visit my mom. My husband joined me for a couple of days and we were able to visit the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. It was spectacular. An extra special treat was that we were able to see a once in a lifetime special exhibit of Stradivarius violins.
While I was looking through the exhibit, I started to think through this idea of value and I learned a few things that I have been working through.
1. Value is not conditional
The exhibit included violins made by renowned artisans from the Cremona, Italy region. Antonio Stradivarius is of course known to be the “Master” of all masters. The instruments still in existence were made between 1666 and 1737 and are beyond expensive. The highest price paid for a violin was $18 million with a rare viola priced at $45 million.
While I stood looking at these priceless works of art I realized why they are so highly valued. “Strad” instruments are known to stand apart by their unparalleled sound quality. He worked hard to get just the right sound he was after by gathering the right woods, with the right grains, using the right shape, the right formation, the right varnish, etc. Everything had to be just right. When compared to other violins, they do stand out as being better, crisper, beautiful.
But, these violins were in a case, just sitting there, not performing, not proving their worth, not doing anything. They have great value simply because of who made them. Stradivarius’ name is written on the inside. They were the showcase of the exhibit, but Stradivarius himself was being exalted. His works were simply displayed his personal glory and success.
We would do well to look at ourselves the same way. We hustle to perform, to do as many good works as possible, to try to do everything with perfection and to prove ourselves to be worthy. It becomes exhausting and leads to all sorts of disorders such as workaholism, addiction, and people-pleasing.
We get frustrated when we never seem to be able to do enough. We get hurt when no matter what we try, we still often feel rejected. We become manipulative when we feel others owe us acceptance and validation because of all we do for them.
We forget that God, the “MASTER” of all masters is the one who formed us. He said He made us in His image which is perfect (Genesis 1:27). We forget that He said that we are precious in His eyes, that He honors us and loves us (Isaiah 43:4). We forget that not only are we sealed with His promise but we are written on the palms of His hand (Isaiah 49:16).
We are valuable even if we do nothing but sit in a box. We are valuable if we perform or not. We are valuable even if no one else thinks we are. We are valuable because of who created us.
2. Value can not be earned or lost.
Violins are important to my husband and I being we are “violinists” of sorts. I actually grew up playing the viola in school orchestra but when I was a junior in High School, I fell in love with old time fiddling. I loved the history of the songs and the art of learning songs by ear, passed down from musician to musician.
I saw a stocky, old truck driver play one time and practically begged him to teach a young girl to play some tunes. That’s when my relationship with Archie and Sally Turner began. The highlight of my week was going to their house, learning a song, and sitting down in the kitchen to enjoy the treat Sally had made for us. They became like grandparents and unconventional mentors. A strange scenario for a 16 year old girl for sure!
When I got ready to buy my own violin, they introduced me to Fred and Hattie Craig. Fred was in his 80’s and was a violin maker. The fiddle I bought from him was his 103rd and was made in 1972. The violin, Fred, and Hattie became treasures to me.
I loved the time I was able to spend with them until they both passed and I grew to love and value them. I know they loved and valued me as well. It is because of that deep relationship that makes my violin the most valuable material possession I own. It’s the only thing I would run into a burning house to save.
My fiddle is now a little worn and has some scratches but it doesn’t matter. I might be able to find one that sounds better in some way, but I don’t care. The violins we saw in the museum had been damaged, lost, stolen, and ignored at times but it didn’t take away their value. The value remains the same no matter what.
We forget that our value doesn’t change either. We accept the lies that we can do something to earn it but God says we have acceptance through faith in Him alone (Eph. 2:8-9). We can believe that we can lose our value by making wrong choices and by messing up, all the time, but God says that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:31).
3. Value is best when shared
It always makes me a little sad to see instruments sitting in displays or hidden away in closets not performing the function they were created to perform. They miss the great opportunity to be able to honor the one who created them by exhibiting the result of all the hard work and expertise that maker perfected.
Surprisingly, out of all of the 650 Stradivarius instruments still in existence, 6 of them are right here in South Dakota at the National Musical Instrument Museum. They often invite renowned musicians to come in and play the instruments in order to give them the chance to shine.
I’ve talked to other musicians who are deeply grateful that these instruments are played since they are essentially crying out to be heard. When played they are able to honor the one who made them and to display their reason for existence.
It’s a natural process for us to obey God and serve Him by serving others and doing good works in order to display and honor the gifts he formed in us. He is the perfect artist and He made us just the way He wanted us to be to perform a particular function. We are also crying out to be seen and heard, but not to display fabricated glory of our own, but to display the glory of the “Master”.
We often get this concept confused. We think that we need to perform in order to prove our value, when we simply perform in order to display and honor our value.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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 will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”…
God tells us that there is an easier way. We just need to see it and believe it. Then we can start to live a simply, uncluttered life.