When E and I first got married we settled on a “life motto” to live by together–

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.”

It’s kind of mind blowing when I think about who I used to be. Do you ever do that? Catch yourself staring at an old photo (thanks to stupid Timehop) horrified of what you were wearing, or lack of… No? Just me? OK.

I’ll tell you who I used to be. I’m not ashamed of her. No shame allowed in this space.

I was an extremely hard worker and a firm believer of the “take life by the balls” approach. I was not born into wealth, nor did my parents ever dish out money for me that wasn’t earned. It might have made me hate them during my middle school years since I was surrounded by friend’s whose parents gave them a twenty-dollar bill no questions asked, but I thank God they knew what they were doing.

By the time I got to college, I had almost no tolerance for lazy. If I can take 18 credit hours, run on the track team, and work multiple jobs, what’s their excuse? I had some issues, of course. I won’t get into that here. (Not yet, at least.)

My point is, whenever I saw a homeless person, my first reaction was not empathy or grace. It was judgement; a hardened heart. They probably got themselves in that mess! I thought. Why should I give them my hard earned money? It’s a dog eat dog world out there. Every (wo)man for him/herself.

Then, I met Jesus.

He wrecked my life.

His radical love made me eager to love others the same. I could no longer turn a blind eye and I was drowning in grace myself. Things had to change. (Hence, my posts about Daniel.)

Jesus continues wrecking my life. This isn’t some spiritual high from a conference or summer camp that dwindles after awhile. A true relationship with him has put me into this rhythm of constant communication. Sometimes, err, a lot of the time, I get mad it him for it.

Just the other day, I walked out of Whole Foods with my overpriced bag of organic produce and the beggar standing in the cold shook his cup. I had no spare change and was instantly annoyed. I really did not want to offer him one of my Granny Smith apples, so I kept walking. I got no more than one block away before turning around. Cursing God in my mind for inconveniencing me and the Spirit for nudging me, I went back up to the man and apologized for not introducing myself. I offered to buy him something inside the store or give him a piece of fruit from my bag. He was grateful and set the apple on top of his things. I could write a billion words on homelessness, but the point is, I have more than I need and I (always) have a choice: build a higher fence or a longer table.

This wave of minimalism started when we moved into our teeny, tiny apartment. I mean, you do what you have to when you only have 600 square feet to work with. It has nothing to do with it being all the rage right now. I’m not interested in the trendiness of it, although I’ll admit I think the aesthetics make me smile. It boils down to one thing. I think Jesus was a minimalist and I want to be more like him.

The minimalist lifestyle is helping E and I focus on the most important pursuits in our life by removing distractions and excess. Somehow, the whole “less is more” is proving to be true once again. It’s adding an undeniable richness to our lives. To be honest, I’ve begun to wonder why all Christ-followers aren’t leaning into this, even leading the way.

A lot of people associate minimalism with getting rid of clothes, but that’s just dipping your toes in the water. By no means have E and I jumped off the diving board, but I’d say we’re slowing easing from the shallow to the deep end. Here’s a simple break-down of our approach…

Keep: only things that enhance and benefit our life, but do not harm the environment.

Why: to maximize life for all.

How

  1. Buy less. By spending less we are able to give more to those in need, pay off debt faster, and add to our savings account. In that order.
  2. Own less. In general, the more you own, the more you have to clean, organize, maintain, repair, etc. These take time, time that could be better spent with our spouses or kids, just for example.
  3. Donate more. My trash is probably another man’s treasure. Anytime I bring in something new (clothing, decor, etc.) I’m getting rid of another thing, or two. And let’s not forget about donating blood, which saves lives.
  4. Boycott unnecessary items. Such as: paper-towel. Again, we are far from going paperless, but this was a no-brainer. Don’t worry ma, we’re not turning into total hippies. We won’t be boycotting toilet paper anytime soon.
  5. Trim the fat. Minimize artificial ingredients and toxins that enter our bodies. Y’all, I haven’t had a doughnut since the New Year! *Gasp* We’ve been eating mostly Paleo meals and it really does feel amazing. “Dessert because I’m never going to deprive myself entirely of God’s love. Food because I want to live long enough to share it. That’s the meal plan I had in mind for 2017.” -yours truly.
  6. Reduce clutter. By reducing you experience freedom and simplicity in such a practical way. From less clothing to choose from to less toys to pick up after, there’s no need to hang onto (or even purchase to begin with) so much stuff. If you think about it, we only use a small percentage of things in our homes regularly. I’m even lending more and more of my books out to people with the knowledge that I’ll probably never get them back, but that’s OK by me. I’m rarely a double-dipper when it comes to books.
  7. Conscious Spending. When I do make a purchase, I’ve found these 12 questions to be helpful. I’ve also felt really convicted about fast fashion and am working on sustainable fashion purchases from now on.

Minimalism is, to me, an obvious route to experiencing more happiness, freedom, and personal growth. I will never forget the first chapter of Wild and Free when Jess Connolly writes, “They [passionate leaders and worshipers of God] kept their junk to a minimum so they could really run far and fast with the Lord.”

That’s what I want. To run far and fast with God. To experience more of him. Adios, distractions. Jesus, I’m all yours.

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4 comments

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Such an inspiration! Making these small (yet, big) changes in our lives that ultimately leads to less distraction and more attention toward relationships and Jesus daily. Something to work toward everyday in 2017 for sure.

Reply

Wow wow wow! How I have missed your God-breathed words!! Always refreshing, thank you for this!

Reply

This is convicting and life giving. I watched the documentary “Minimalism” on netflix a few weeks ago and it was inspiring…..I’ve been married a little over a year now and I can relate to you, living in an apartment just over 600 sq ft! I got rid of a lot of junk when we got married and moved into the apartment, but realized after watching the documentary that the amount of excess stuff I have is ridiculous. I’ve been purging and donating things since….I still have a ways to go, (it’s amazing how much STUFF I fit into such a tiny apartment) and I wouldn’t call myself a real minimalist but definitely headed in that direction. I love how connect minimalism and Jesus, and the Christian life to minimalism. I want to live more like Jesus every day, and getting rid of the excess, unnecessary clutter and having more space in my heart and life and home for PEOPLE, love, relationships and growth is a definitely part of that. Thank you for this post!

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Thank you for speaking about this topic! It’s dear to my heart & actually the reason for starting a blog in the first place. I agree, Jesus was a minimalist! Having less really does free us to love Him and love others more. Thank you for your tips on how to make minimalism a part of your life. I’m working on conscious spending!

Thanks again for the post!

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