Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Living a Life of Simplicity

Several days ago, Robert pulled my non-maternity clothes down from the attic.  As I looked through the THREE tubs of clothes (this doesn’t include all of my t-shirts, etc that are in my drawers), I realized, I have WAY more clothes than I need.  On top of that, we have so many clothes that are dirty or clean but needing to be folded and put away.  I keep complaining about how I can’t keep up with it all.  I get frustrated when Karis and Ethan drag their fifty million toys into the living room.  I get frustrated when I’m constantly having to wash the large amount of dishes and put them away when they’re clean.  Ethan is constantly pulling out the massive amount of shoes that Karis owns (and wearing them, which is cute).  I quickly came to the realization that stuff brings stress and frustration.  Where did my “life of simplicity” go?  This certainly isn’t it. 
Then, I came across this blog: Living, Learning, and Living Simply.  Everything from March 8th through today says exactly what I’ve been thinking, and she discusses a way to overcome this feeling of frustration with stuff.  She has this video on her blog, and I thought I would share it here too:

Stuff brings frustration, JESUS and relationships with OTHERS brings joy.  Wow.  I have a lot to learn. 
So, I am joining Aimee in her quest to find joy in my relationship with Jesus and the people He has placed in my life to love, and to rid my life of the frustration of stuff.

The way I plan to do this: Starting on April 1st, Robert and I will be doing something similar to Aimee… have a “No Spend Month.”  This includes eating out, clothing, books, music, anything except what is necessary… some groceries (we have a lot already!) and gas (plan to cut down driving so hopefully we won’t need much).  That. Is. It.  Nothing. Else. 

As we learn to stop focusing on buying and spending, my hope is to start getting rid of things.  Giving things away.  Finding ways to give more of our money since we won’t be spending it.  And, hopefully, we will just begin living our lives this way.  I don’t want it to just last a month and then forget what we’ve learned… but for this to be a lifestyle change.

I want to learn to enjoy the quietness of the morning and spend that time with Jesus.  I want to learn to enjoy the beautiful weather and go for hikes as a family.  I want to learn to enjoy playing games as a family (like Robert and I did when we first got married!).  I want to learn to enjoy fun times with friends.  I want to enjoy my kids… not just be frustrated by the constant messes that they make with their stuff.  I don’t want to be constantly bogged down with the massive piles of laundry that need to be done, but to be able to keep up with it because there’s not a whole lot to keep up with.  I don’t want my whole day to be dedicated to housework, but to my family.  I want to enjoy things that are free… the library, picnics, going to the zoo (we were given zoo passes from my parents for Christmas!!).  I want to rid my life of the stress that we have brought on ourselves, and live a life of peace and joy.

In Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, he states “As Jesus made clear in our central passage (Matthew 6:25-33), freedom from anxiety is one of the inward evidences of seeking first the kingdom of God.  The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions.”
In his book, he talks about how inward realities of simplicity produce outward realities (naturally).

The inward realities are:
1) To receive what we have as a gift from God
2) To know that it is God’s business, and not ours, to care for what we have
3) To have our goods available to others

The outward realities are:
1) Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status (and using them until they are worn out!).
2) Reject anything that is producing an addiction.
3) Develop a habit of giving things away.
4) Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry (I was sucked into this one when I bought my iPhone after I said I would never buy one… of course I got it really cheap, but that is not the point :).
5) Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
6) Develop a deeper appreciation for creation.
7) Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes. 
8) Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech. “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”
9) Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
10) Shun ANYTHING that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.

Will you join me in my quest for living a simple life??


Aimee said...

Yea!!! Awesome! Loved your post and all your great thoughts...and you are right, I want this to be a LIFESTYLE CHANGE not just a short-lived experiment!!

Here's to living our lives focused on PEOPLE and not our stuff! :)

BeanIrene said...

This is really awesome. And something I think more homemakers struggle with, than they want to admit. I have been feeling this way, and yesterday went through Hailee's things and got rid of a trash bag full of what she didn't use, or could stand to donate. Then today I am doing the same thing in Ethan's room. I always go through clothes and get rid of them because I do not have space for more than a certain amount per person in our family. With all of the renovations going on, on our home, we have been forced to rid ourselves of unnecessary things, and use what is only needed. Truly needed. It has been nice, and I believe we are being taught the very same lesson as you. I think God wants all His children to know this lesson.
Thanks for the blog. It was a good one.

Katie K said...

I, along with many of my friends from church, have decided to use Lent as a time to clean-out our homes & our lives in a vein very similar to your blog post of getting closer to simple living. The concept is called "40 bags in 40 days" and everyone is loving it!