As we sipped our morning coffee - using the same two Christmas mugs that we always use - the Hubs made a statement that I have been thinking about ever since."We are minimalists," he said, "but without being a part of the movement."
Confession: I'm quite sure that if there was some kind of litmus test to qualify as a minimalist, I - and my house - would not pass. The desk in my home office isn't one of those sleek, clean, magazine worthy spots. There are stacks and piles, picture frames and tissue boxes, a basket from Botswana and a Jane Austen action figure. My filing cabinet is covered in magnets from our travels... and dust. My office space is for working, not show, and it represents a side of me that is more sentimental than simplistic.
But in many ways, the Hubs is right. Over the last six years - ever since we abandoned our traveling nomad/suitcase living life - we have greatly simplified our space. From wall art to furnishings, closets, shoes, and kitchenware - everything but the books, which I declared off limits - we've slowly turned our house into our home.
So while our tastes have gotten decidedly simpler over the years, no, we're not a part of the ever growing minimalism movement. Though I prefer clear counters and neat closets, I am not defined by the amount of stuff I have, or don't have. I don't want to be so consumed by taking care of things, or so worried about losing/breaking/ruining something that I instead lose/break/ruin the possibility to develop a relationship or foster an opportunity.
Since the completion of the living/dining space, the Hubs and I often find ourselves saying, "I can't believe this is our home. It's so beautiful!" We are beyond blessed to have it; but we also realize that just having a home that we love - or that is paid off - shouldn't be the end goal. If we don't share it and use it to bless others, then we aren't really being a good steward of the Lord's resources.
I'm an INTJ, which means that somewhere in the midst of simplifying and minimalizing, there has to be some common sense. I've been called "minimalistic" because I am selective in what I choose to bring into our home, and picky about what I allow to stay; but that doesn't mean I mindlessly purge. Sheets that no longer fit my style gain a second life as paint cloths, furniture covers, and plant protection on frosty nights. Holey t-shirts are ripped up to become rags for the Hubs to use on an oily engine.
Keeping life simple isn't about joining the current minimalist movement, or crowing about how you lived with or without something for a set amount of time. It's about practicing stewardship - with your money, your things, your home, your time and your talents. It's understanding that you can't take it with you when you die, so there's no reason to hold tightly to it now.
The simple balance that we strive for is this: that we may steward the STUFF that God has entrusted to us, enjoying it while it's in our care, and sharing it willingly as we follow the story that He is writing.