Chuck Swindoll: Our nature is not to let go. Our nature is to possess. Mine!
Our family of six is preparing to move for the second time in a year. Nothing makes you evaluate your possessions like moving, am I right? If you have to pack something into a box, into a truck, into your new home, unpack it and find a home for it, you REALLY want to love it or need it a lot.
I have done a lot of thinking, evaluating, and reflecting through this process.
This is the end result: I am astonished
- at how much stuff we possess
- at how emotional it is to let go of stuff
- at how much stuff I have sold
- at how little anyone in the family has missed anything (seriously? Not one regret. Ok there was one. More on that later.)
- at how clutter affects our emotions and routines
- at how much time and energy is spent just managing all this stuff
- that I haven’t done this five years ago
Here’s how our minimalism happened, in brief.
First, we downsized to a smaller home and less square footage. Our fourth baby was two months old, and I had no time or energy to sort and sift, so we moved most of our possessions into our smaller home. We felt crowded.
Secondly, I felt like I was picking up toys or telling kids to pick up toys all day, every day. And when we asked the boys to clean their room, they seemed overwhelmed. When I went in to help, I felt overwhelmed. Something had to change. I started our minimalism journey with the boys’ room. I got rid of half their toys. We only kept a fraction of what they had before.
The result was fabulous. They played more, they could keep their stuff organized and cleaned up because they had fewer things to maintain, and their room was so much more pleasant. That was the beginning of something beautiful.
I began to slowly move this same process to each room of our house. Each room was the same—freedom, joy, lightness in the end.
First, I just gave stuff away to a local thrift store that benefits our community. I don’t do garage sales because it’s too much work. But then I discovered the joy of the online yard sale. I was hooked because it was so simple and I could quickly liquidize our unwanted items into cash. There were challenges: it was a hassle, people can be rude, and I had to do a lot more running around to meet people and exchange goods for cash. But these inconveniences were worth it to me to continue my minimalism project in our home AND make some extra money for our family budget.
When I started this journey, I didn’t know we would be moving again within the year. We are in the process of purchasing our first home now, and I am determined to move only our most valued and necessary possessions into it. The whole house is going through another layer of purging.
Five Reasons Why Christians Should Consider a More Minimalistic Lifestyle:
- Paul says that if we have food and clothing we should be content. This is not legalism. He is just reminding us what God actually owes us: nothing. Every so often when I get a little crazy over something I MUST HAVE, I remind myself of this principal. Food and clothing. Paul’s words remind us of Jesus’ words when he pointed to a field of lilies and a flock of birds. They go about their lives trusting Him and He provides. The truth is, in the United States of Advertising, we could be forever desiring one thing or another and spend our whole lives unhappy. Actually, the wanting and the anticipation is the sweetest part; when we work to save for something we want, we enjoy it more.
- God’s kingdom is opposite of the world’s kingdom. The last shall be first, the way to honor is through humility, and sometimes, the way to have more is to possess less. We can gain a whole world of stuff and lose our souls in the process. That doesn’t mean that anyone who owns many possessions is living in sin. Not at all. But it does mean we should be cognizant of our priorities and our spiritual values. At times, our faith will demand we part from the ways of the world. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be worth much.
- We have so much to gain. Do you know how much time and stress is invested in keeping, cleaning, organizing, and maintaining your stuff? Or even just avoiding dealing with your stuff? How could that time be spent? There is no right or wrong way to spend our time, but there is us moving toward or away from relationships. Our possessions will wear out, but our souls and the souls of our families live on into eternity. Don’t think of it as loss; think of it as GAIN. You get rid of toys, you gain space, time and energy to read books together. You get rid of DVD’s, you gain space, money, and time to do crafts together.
- We become more authentic. I found, as I began to consider what to purge, that I possessed many things that symbolized who I want to be, not who I really am. We can choose what we do, but we can’t choose what we like to do. If you are holding onto a closet full of weights, scrapbooking supplies, health food books, whatever, just accept where you actually are right now. Let go of what you wish you were and find the emotional energy to embrace who you are. You are already loved right now. You won’t grow until you deeply accept that, and sometimes that means letting go of something you really want to work, but it just isn’t working.
- We find time for God. I truly believe that many Christians have a deep desire to grow, but are hindered by the stuff of life. Check out the third item in this warning list in Luke 21:34 “But be on your guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day close down upon you suddenly like a trap.”
Also, look at the third kind of soil in Jesus’s parable in Mark 4:19:
“And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” I hold no judgment for anyone on this matter; I see the same temptation within myself. But I am also excited to have found a tangible way to push back against the stresses, worries, and cares of life in order to pursue Christ.
Does minimalism appeal to you? Why or why not?