Before I get into the topic of this post I just want to apologize for my absence on the blog for the past couple of months. There were various reasons why, but it ultimately boils down to being busy over the past few months and not having the motivation to get a post uploaded. I mean, it has taken me at least a week and a half just to finish this post. I am going to try my best to refocus my energy to the blog and get posts up more frequently. So, now with that out of the way, let’s move on to the topic of the day.
Over the past few years our family has been trying to live a more minimalistic and simplistic life. Clutter stresses me out and I find a somewhat minimal home much more calming. I’ve heard the term “cozy minimalist” and I feel like that is our style. My home is fairly minimalist, but it is not stark and cold. I do have some decor items and extra pillows. I want my home to be comfortable, cozy, and like a family actually lives there.
I first discovered minimalism two to three years ago via Pinterest, where all great discoveries are made. My husband and I were already pretty tidy people and I didn’t feel like we had a lot of stuff until we moved after having our daughter. Our 1900 sq.ft. home filled up the largest truck the moving company had plus we had stuff in our car. I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had. It was pretty embarrassing.
With a baby and two parents working full time the easiest thing to do was quickly get everything unpacked and put away. Once that job was done it didn’t feel like our stuff was overtaking us because we were able to hide it all behind cabinets and closet doors. Plus we were fully renovating our home over the next few years so it was a bit of a mess anyway. Then we had our son and it was all just too much. When I came across minimalism and started reading more about it I was intrigued and it seemed to fit our family’s values.
I immediately began de-cluttering every room and every closet. The first stop was the playroom and the kid’s toys. Then I moved on to my bookcases. I was a librarian before staying at home after having my son, so this one was, and still is, hard for me. Honestly, there are some books on the shelves I haven’t read, but if I truly want to read them, then I just can’t let them go. I did get rid of three shelves worth of books though. So, over the next month every space in my house was touched and many trips were made to donate items.
The funny thing is though, de-cluttering is never over. I am almost always finding things I can get rid, especially toys. Every few months I ask my kids, who are now 5 and 3, to go through their toys and find some things they no longer want and that they would like to donate. They almost always find at least a few things they are ready to let go of and are happy to give to someone else.
What I have discovered over the past year is that simple living actually has basis in the Bible. I am always amazed that the Bible has something to say about every aspect of our lives and teaches us so many good lessons (even for those who aren’t Christians). I thought I would share ways that the Bible encourages us to live simply and why it is important to do so in our walk with Christ.
- Our possessions are not ours. I am sure someone just read that and said, “Huh? I paid for them, they are mine.” Here is the thing though, everything on Earth is God’s. We are just stewarding these items until we are gone from Earth. In Timothy 6:6-9 we are remind that we were brought into the world with nothing and to be content with few material possessions is an achievement. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
- We need to be able to tithe and be charitable. I am going to be blunt here. It is hard to have money to tithe and donate to charities if you are living paycheck to paycheck or you are in massive debt to support a lifestyle that is above your means. We have all made unnecessary and extravagant purchases. However, if you are consistently making unnecessary purchases that you can’t truly afford you are stuck in a habit and you aren’t going to be able to make the sacrifice of taking part of your paycheck and spending it on someone/something other than yourself and things that serve you. God calls us to tithe and to be generous throughout the Bible, but I love what is said in Proverbs 11: 24-25. “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
- We should be focused on God and people, not stuff. There are many Bible verses that call for us to not focus solely on our material possessions and money. In John 3:17 we are reminded that to have everything in the world and choosing not to help others is not Godly and not following His path. “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” I know our family has been through many stages on this path. We started off without a lot of money and then through career advances gained more. With all of our abundance we definitely were not tithing and giving at least 10% to church and charities. Over the past three or four months our family has really made this our focus and we give 10% in tithe money to our church and we also donate to charities that speak to us. I’m not going to lie, it is a little hard to see that 10% check each month going out of our home with no immediate benefit for us, but it feels so good to know the money is going to help His kingdom and help those in need. As the famous minimalist Joshua Becker said, “As Christians, we want to become less attached to worldly things and more attached to Godly things.”
- We shouldn’t be distracted by how the world lives. The Bible calls us to separate ourselves from the world. To live differently and not following what everyone else is doing. We should focus on what the Bible says about how we should live. I think John 2:15-17 sums it up well. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” In the U.S.A. not living to “keep up with the Joneses” is definitely not following the crowd. We are constantly inundated with advertisements telling us we need this product or we deserve that product. Choosing to be intentional about our purchases is following what God wants us to do, not what the world is telling us to do.
Have you ever just sat back and thought about people you have known who are just generally happy people with a zest for life? I feel like those people are not usually the ones who are rich monetarily, but those who are rich spiritually. I want to be content with little, yet also have an abundant life because I am using my life to serve God, my family, and others. Building my relationship with God is taking a lot of work, just like any relationship. I have to focus on what really matters and create the space so that I will have the time to devote to God.
I am looking forward to living even more minimally and generously and helping set on example for my children. The only way they are going to learn how to live in the way God instructs is if they see it modeled at home. Remembering that God calls us to live more simply is a good motivator to keep it up and find ways to do even more. So, if you are struggling to find the motivation to simplify your life and be more generous, hopefully you found some inspiration in this post. Let me know how your journey is going.
Matthew 6: 19-21
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.