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.
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.
How do you feel about the "simple" life?