Many people think minimalism means living out of a backpack with no stuff, and I guess it can for some. To me, that doesn't sound fun or helpful AT ALL. My initial response to minimalism was selfish and pitiful: "absolutely NOT. I already don't have enough of anything. Now you want me to give away what I do have?!"
Oh, was I so wrong.
Four months ago, I often felt like I didn't have the things I wanted. I always felt the need for more. How was getting rid of stuff going to help someone who felt like she still didn't have enough?
In the middle of that season, I still felt the stuff crowding in on the edges of my mind. I was often stressed and anxious, my heart felt discontent and covetous, I always wanted MORE. I heard myself say:
"I don't have anything to wear!" (staring at a closet full of clothes)
"I wish I had a car like that." (driving my car that works perfectly well)
"I need to go to the grocery, again." (sorting through a full refrigerator)
"I never have time for me." (scrolling through social media for the tenth time in an hour)
"Must be nice to have this much space." (dreading cleaning my own home)
A discontent and greedy heart is an ugly, lonely, heavy load to bear. Because on top of it all, guilt settles in. After all, I knew, deep down, that I was abundantly blessed with everything I needed.
Thank God for grace and the power of less.
Becker recommends boxing things up that you haven't used in a while, and if you don't need them in a few more months, donating them, but I found that getting rid of things right away worked best for me. And you know what? I haven't missed a thing.
I'm not sure how it happened, but it did. Of course, it's a process, and we have really just begun, but I feel the positive effects of minimizing our possessions mentally, emotionally and physically. Here are some of the top things I have noticed:
1. I am more satisfied with what I have.
Yes, I still experience moments of discontent and my heart still covets what other people have sometimes, but most of the time I feel very happy and appreciative for what I have. Our grocery and shopping bills have gone down, simply because I don't go into the store trying to fill any emptiness or need inside. The need to have or spend is not as noticeable as it used to be. Do I still have my moments? Yes. But I love that deep feeling of contentment and peace.
2. I spend so much less time cleaning my house than I used to.
As I've discussed in previous posts, I am not Martha Stewart. But because I have fewer things, I am spending much less time picking up, cleaning up, and organizing my possessions and instead I am spending more time with my family and friends. When I do clean my home, I don't feel overwhelmed by clutter. I invested in some really great cleaning products that make my home smell really good, too, so cleaning isn't really something I dread anymore.
3. I am less stressed and I have more "white space" in my mind and calendar.
Having fewer possessions and more time is such a stress relief. That "crowding", chaotic feeling around the edges of my mind. Gone... most of the time, anyway. And when it is there, I am more sensitive to it and determined to pursue peace. I am more aware of when I am becoming too stressed, and more protective and intentional about how I spend my time. Remember Lazy Sundays? Yep, that was a result of my journey to less.
5. We have extra money to be generous and have fun.
The decision to own less inherently means more money. More money to save, more money to give, more money to spend on experiences instead of things. This part is the biggest comfort of all. There is nothing like feeling content, blessing others, and having fun.
"Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Luke 12:15 (ESV)
So I still have a long way to go in this journey toward finding less, but it is so exciting to look over the past few months and see the changes, both big and small, that have come by simplifying our possessions. Over the next few months, I want to continue minimizing our possessions, replacing quantity with quality, and being more "present" in the moment. I'll be sure to keep you updated!
If you are feeling like I did, or if you would like to read a little more about minimalism, I would definitely recommend Joshua Becker's More of Less. You can find it here. Or check out some of my favorite blogs like Becoming Minimalist or No Sidebar. I promise you will be blessed!