Questions for a Simple Life
I have been thinking a lot today about how much I loved our little house. I was so afraid when we looked at this house for the first time that we would not be able to live in the house without feeling all smashed together. Yet, as I looked at the house I loved it very much. I loved the layout, the location and desperately wanted to live here. I just did not think that we could all fit. It was quite a difficult decision for me.
As we were contemplating the move and if it would work I started researching how families lived in smaller homes. I studied how they lived, what they had, what they had gotten rid of and how they made it work. As I researched I started to get excited seeing a whole different perspective then I had ever had. I learned about the minimalist lifestyle, off grid living, homesteading etc. I also started to realize that the "less is more" philosophy just might be a philosophy I was ready to embrace. When I was looking at the minimalist mindset I saw some of the faulty logic and reasoning; but I also saw biblical principles that (although they did not know it) were being lived out.
I was intrigued and I started to think this just might be possible. Then I had to decide if we were willing to pay the price to live more simply. This was a bit more difficult for me. It was not so much for me that I did not want to live that way; but wondering if we could live that way and still function in society without being the odd balls in the group. I started to evaluate our life. I started to look at everything we had and really take to heart if we needed it or if it was just accumulation. I evaluated our items to see how many of them held sentimental value to me or were just part of our possessions because I felt like I 'had' to keep them.
It was good to evaluate and really take time to ponder why we had what we had; and how important the things we had were to us. I started to realize something about myself. I found out that I like things simpler - I always have. The simple life is something that intrigues me. It is why I have been fascinated with the Little House books and stories about the pioneer days. Those stories interest me because they tell of happy lives that were lived out to their fullest with few belongings and simple surroundings. That is what intrigued me the most about those books and I did not even realize it. Having what was needed and being content.
I started to ask myself some questions about the things we owned.
Do I really like this?
It is funny but somethings we have because we feel like we have to keep them and can not get rid of them. Perhaps it was a gift from someone. Perhaps it was something we purchased and we liked it when we got it; but we do not like it anymore - but we are unwilling to admit that. We change, we mature, our tastes can change. It was liberating to realize that I could get rid of stuff I really did not like.
Do I really need this?
This is a hard question sometimes to get an answer to! I do not feel that we have to live the Spartan lifestyle and only have the very minimal of what we need. However, I found that there was a lot of things lying around my house that I did not need. It was taking up space, cluttering my brain because I had to try to remember what it was and what it was used for. I started to realize that if I did not need it I did not need to keep it. Other things that fell into this category were multiples of things. (Sure I needed a pair of black heels - but did I really need 4 different pairs of black heels...)
When is the last time I used/ wore this?
They say if it has been over a year since you have worn something - it is time to get rid of it. This can hold true of things we use around the house. (The little vacuum that I purchased to use in the van; but never used it because I like my big vacuum because it pics up better...)
Why did I purchase this?
I found out that a lot of reasons why I purchased stuff was because I found it for a good deal not because we really needed it. (or even really liked it) When I started to look at the reasons why I made some of my purchases I realized that I was buying because making a purchase made me feel good. Um, that is not a good thing! If I am going shopping to make me feel good then I am using shopping as a drug and a mood lifter. I need to go shopping because we NEED something not because I want to feel better about my day. This was a big thing for me and I am glad I saw how I was filling a void I had with vice.
Do I have space for this?
This has become a big question in a smaller house; and one that has to be answered before I make a purchase. When we moved into our house in Mayville we had limited closet space. I lamented this forever; and one day I thought about something. God has promised to provide everything we need. If God has provided the house we live in with the closet space that is there, could it be that I am not content with God's provision for me and feel like I need more than what He has provided because I am hoarding clothes that I did not need? Here is the irony: I had a lot of clothes and I had purchased a lot of clothes for the kids (at thrift stores - mainly because it was a great deal; but always found myself having to do laundry in my spare time to keep up with the amount of clothes that everyone was wearing. Now that we have downsized our clothing I find laundry does not dominate my days or my mind in trying to figure out how to get all the clothes clean. :)
We have limited our possessions. We do live in a smaller house. I love it. I feel like I am living my life; not trying to keep all of our stuff in life so we can get to living life. I love my simple kitchen even though it would not fly in as a kitchen worthy of a Better Homes and Garden's centerfold kitchen. I love my laundry area right next to the kitchen were I can put in a few loads as I do school with the Littles. Sure, it is not where you will find most laundry rooms; but it works for us there! I started to see that my house is not here to impress people and increase my social status - our home is for us to live and to be hospitable to the people God brings our way.
I feel like the possessions that we have we have made a conscious decision to keep because they are important to us and are needed. For me as a Christian, the simple life has been limiting what we have so we can limit the distractions. A lot of stuff causes a lot of distractions. Limiting our things has freed us up to do what we believe God wants us to do and to value what God wants us to value. For us, it has been getting rid of excess stuff so we can focus on family and what God wants us to do as a family. That is what simple living is to me. What is it to you?
Labels: The Simple Life