Have you ever heard of the Minimalism? I recently came across this lifestyle choice and was intrigued by what I read. I wanted to understand more about the overall mindset of a Minimalist as well as the theories and reasoning’s for minimalism. I felt that there may be a place for minimalism, at least in part, in the Christian home.
Basics of Minimalism
The basic concept of minimalism is that the fewer things you own the less time you spend dealing with them (cleaning, paying for, arranging, etc) and the more free time you have to pursue other interests. Minimalists do not buy into the entrapment of consumerism. They discard the notion that we need to buy the latest gadget or doodad just because the TV or billboard tells us to.
The description of minimalism that I found best summed up the whole idea was the opening passage from Leo Babouta’s book, The Simple Guide to a The Minimalist Life:
“It’s one that is stripped of the unnecessary, to make room for that which gives you joy. It’s a removal of clutter in all its forms, leaving you with peace and freedom and lightness. A minimalist eschews the mindset of more, of acquiring and consuming and shopping, of bigger is better, of the burden of stuff. A minimalist instead embraces the beauty of less, the aesthetic of spareness, a life of contentedness in what we need what truly makes us happy.”
In perusing websites and blogs I have come across folks who are hardcore, unapologizing minimalists who you may consider to be radical. By that I mean that some folks own as few as 50 items or less. Yes, I said 50 items. Others are perhaps a bit more balanced and less extreme striving to have fewer possessions and minimal décor. I have read of people who are minimalists balancing a life with a spouse who is not and those who choose to parent with a minimalist mindset not allowing their children to own every new toy that pops up.
Unfortunately, much of what I read was not written from a Christian perspective nor was it biblically based. New Age and modern thinking seemed to rule the Minimalist arena. We’ll get back to that in a minute….
Why do I Have So Much Stuff?
Something spoke to me about the idea of minimalism in my life. Would having less stuff help me focus more on the truly important things in my life? Do I need to keep so much stuff as mementos to past events and milestones in my life? Does my spirit need a “minimalist make over? Do I have excess baggage in my heart that prevents me from allowing the Lord to do a fresh and new work in me? Do the routine tasks of organizing, cleaning, finding and sorting stuff keep me from spending time with the Lord and letting him lead me?
I identified with the anti-consumerism mentality as I have recently realized that I struggle with thoughts of “keeping up with the Jones’s.’ I would often find myself thinking that we weren’t good enough not because someone had something we did not but because what we had was, in my mind, not good enough. The Lord is patiently dealing with me in this area…Thank you God.
I have begun to see my things in a different light since I began researching and praying about this topic. Some of the things that I have I only have because I thought it was necessary or I thought it made our home “complete.” I realize deep down that filling my home with stuff was an idol. The actual things may not be the idol but having a nicely decorated house and cabinets full of serving dishes and kitchen gadgets was the idol. I’m not a hoarder and I dislike clutter but even the nicely arranged Longaberger baskets and pottery were only bought because if I had them then I had somehow arrived. I thought I was building a successful home. Oh how wrong I was! I long for my home to be filled with the sweet presence of Jesus and filled with love, laughter and peace. That is a successful home.
Minimalism and Christianity
As I mentioned earlier, my initial exposure to minimalism came up devoid of biblical based principles. This saddened me because I believe there is a place for minimalism in Christian home. We’re called as Christians to be in this world but not of this world. I believe part of not being “of” the worlds mean not conforming to what the world says we “need” and “must have.” If you look at Jesus’ life how much did he have? You didn’t see the disciples unloading the boat with 15 cargo boxes, 3 suitcases on wheels and their iPads, Smart Phones and MP3 players.
I wonder what, if anything, Jesus carried with him when he was ministering to people? (If there is a scriptural reference to this please comment).
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
I remember also this scripture from Paul’s letter to the Philippians
“I know what it is to be in need, and what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12-13
This reminds me that having more should not (and will not) make us happy. Our happiness can only come from the Lord.
I have come across one site Jurino.com that is written by a Christian man, Jurino. If you choose to explore minimalism be sure you check what you’re reading with The Spirit and “swallow the meat and spit out the bones.”
Give It All Away and Move to the Camper
No, I am seriously doing that. But I have decided that the things I thought I needed I do not need. And if it was all stripped away and we ended up living in the camper I would be happy. It would be hard, I would probably cry and would surely miss some of my things but those things are not the source of my happiness.
I try to take time every week to go through a drawer or cabinet or cupboard and rid that place of stuff we don’t need. I do not see myself needing to go to the extreme of owning 50 things or less (or even 100 things or less) so I decided to challenge myself to remove 100 things from the house.
Let me tell, it was a challenge.
First, I didn’t realize what 100 things looked like and I wish now I’d have taken a picture of my resulting donation to the local Rescue Mission. I had such a big pile (and I didn’t even get to 100) that I had to get the stuff out of the office so I had room to work! (small house, small office)
Secondly, I have way too much junk. Seriously. And my house is small with no garage and a basement that isn’t fit for storing valuable items yet we still mange to cram way more crap into this house then we need. I think our house is orderly; we’re not hoarders or anything extreme like that. I just look at the things I save thinking “Awe, Pap got me that for Christmas when I was 10. I can’t get rid of that.” I somehow feel that he would be disappointed if I donated or gave away something he bought me (or anyone else for that matter.) I’m now 31, Pap is with the Lord and will not be offended if I get rid of it. And besides, I can take a picture of it, scrapbook it if I want a memento of that thing.
Just to give you an example, here’s what I got rid of in my first purging of the unnecessary:
1 belt 9 sweaters 1 pull over jacket
11 T-shirts Jogging Outfit 2 turtle necks
2 dress shirts 2 pants 3 sweat shirts
4 Bras 2 new pair socks 2 bathing suits
2 pair shoes 1 pocket book 3 tote bags (1 brand new)
2 pair sweat pants mug stand 3 mugs
Carving set bread knife bread storage container
casserole dish 2 wood shelves 2 wall hanging
9 figurines 2 candle holders Christmas Ornaments
1 wreath 1 decorative bird house
That’s only 73 things and none of it was stuff that we have used or worn within the past year. I am almost ashamed to admit that but it is the truth.
So what’s my point in sharing this list with you?
For starters, to be truthful and honest. Secondly to challenge you. Do you have too much stuff? Do you have stuff you need to get rid of that is cluttering up your life? Does your to do list include too much Stuff Management? If so maybe you need to dip a toe in the world of minimalism.
If you don’t know were to begin digging into your junk here’s a tip. One of my mom’s dear friends said that she was going to set her timer for 10 minutes every day and declutter some part of her home in those 10 minutes. Now that is an easy way to start! If you can’t do 10 minutes a day then do 10 minutes every Tuesday night.
Until Next Time,