9.12.2012

The Simple Life

I've been thinking a lot about stuff and simplicity and resources. I was recently challenged by a post, written by my friend Rebecca. Challenged, but encouraged. Encouraged that I was headed in the right direction, but reminded that I needed to be cautious about loosing sight of why I started simplifying in the first place.

About a year ago, I was so overwhelmed by the amount of possessions that I had, I started The Great Purge of 2011, which rolled over into 2012 with the William Morris Project. I made multiple trips to my favorite donation site, feeling embarrassed over the excessive amount of unwanted stuff that I was bringing. I wondered what they must think of me. My pride was taking a serious hit.

With each load, I grew more and more convicted about my poor stewardship of the resources that God had entrusted to me. Each item I placed in a donation box started representing a dollar amount. Instead of seeing a pair of clearance pants that I wore once, I saw the $15 I paid for them, and thought about how that could have been better spent - paying off the house, supporting a missionary friend, filling a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child.

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Suddenly, the items all around me became more burdensome than enjoyable. I stopped shopping unless I actually needed something: toilet paper, toothpaste, milk. I watched our bank account grow, and was aghast when I realized that the only thing we changed were our shopping habits. I really didn't think we were spending that much, but a few dollars here and a few dollars there really adds up. 

I was tossing stuff right and left, purging the house of all the "extras", and then going back to see if I could find more. It was quickly becoming an obsession. Right around the time when I quit my pharmacy job and began freelancing for Weaving Influence, Peter asked me a question that gave me some perspective. Was donating our old towels and "extra" shoes going to help fill shoe boxes? No, it was just going to a charity shop that already had a basement full of donations.

It wasn't about becoming minimalists, it was about practicing stewardship. We began focusing on using what we'd already spent money on, and not buying what we didn't actually need. Instead of donating all of our shoes (because it seemed excessive to have that many pairs), we decided to keep the shoes that we'd already purchased. When the shoes actually show wear (holes, no tread, etc.), then we'll toss them and consider - at the time - if we want to replace them, or if we can go without. 

We're already seeing the results of this mindset change. Last month, we had a humdinger of a rainstorm, which resulted in our basement flooding. It was a bummer, to be sure, but guess what I used to help mop up the water? All those old towels that I was thinking about throwing away back in May because they were part of the "too much stuff" purge. Instead of using roll after roll of paper towels, I grabbed the stack of junk rags that I had made out of old t-shirts and started mopping up water. It felt good.

                                                                                         Source: simplemom.net via Paula on Pinterest



How do you feel about the "simple" life? 
What's your idea of stewardship?

I'm linking up with the fabulous Jules over at Pancakes & French Fries
for her weekly William Morris Project - care to join us?


4 comments:

  1. I like how you bring in the idea of stewardship. It's something we can ALL work on improving, no matter how much or how little we have. I think it's okay to keep some "extras" around, as long as our purpose in doing so is honoring God through those extras, rather than simply doing what's easy or comfortable.

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  2. Isn't it interesting how this change in perspective has kind of an addictive quality....not in a negative way. But it is like you get focused on using up what you have before replacing and it tends to fill your thinking. I have about five shirts that are on their last legs. It has become a game to me to get those shirts into my regular wearing rotation and each time they come out of the laundry to look them over to see if they can take one more wearing. It doesn't feel like deprivation, it feels good to have used something completely. I do find myself sending up a prayer of gratitude more for what I have used up than I do for all that still fills my closet.

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  3. This perspective is so helpful to me. I think you're really landing on something that's troubled me about the idea of living minimally. Having purged a lot of things, I absolutely see the value in living with less. But you're right that sometimes those old things have a use, and if we truly have the room for things we might truly use, I don't want to just get rid of them in the name of having less. I think you're finding a really nice balance. Right thinking always leads to right action, doesn't it?

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  4. Great post, Carrie! There is definitely a fine line between purging what you will truly never wear or use anymore, and just getting rid of things because it starts feeling good to have less. Everyone has to realize where their cut off points are and hold to them. At some point, my husband started to cross into the "I want all of my belongings to fit into a show box" mentality -- but I am so not there, nor do I think I want to be.

    But I am definitely grateful that I stumbled into the WM project (thanks to you) because it made our decluttering process so much easier as we made the transition from the farm to the city.

    It's so very easy to let the little expenses drain your bank account in a hurry -- and I think it's something all of us struggle with.

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There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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