Sunday, October 31, 2010

Less is So Much More

For months now I have been mulling over thoughts of living a simpler life and what that might look like. I tend to get excited about something, want to just 'get going' and then realize that it might not be very realistic in the long run. But a simpler way of life just keeps drawing me back.

When we moved three years ago, I remember feeling such shame over all the stuff we owned. It just didn't seem right. I felt horrible guilt as I watched our dear friends hauling out load after load after load of material objects. I swore that I would never be burdened by that much stuff again. So we got rid of a few things. Well actually we got rid of a lot of things, but it was few in comparison to what was left.

We moved into our current home and I felt reasonably okay with what was left. Not great, but not guilty any longer. Funny though. The rooms are beginning to shrink again with things that we (I) hold onto just in case we might need them someday. I come by this honestly. I remember my dad wanting to keep the spring off of a broken mouse trap once because you just never know when you might need a spring that size. My mom threw it out. So this is not all my fault, it is in my DNA.

A little over a year ago I started seriously couponing and stockpiling and while that has simplified our finances and allowed us to bless others, it has not necessarily simplified our storage. So currently, I am focusing on some new ways to shop, save and share as Ellie Kay says. God calls us to be good stewards of our finances and material possessions. God also calls us to be generous and to share, as well as to save for the future so that we are not a burden on others.

Throw into all of this the fact that in the last two weeks, my i-pod just quit. Worked fine and then didn't work at all. Four days later my cell phone just disappears from cyberspace. The phone worked, but somehow my phone number got lost in space. Seriously. My phone and my number could not find each other. After three days of on again and off again with the phone, our computer crashes and is eaten alive by a nasty virus. I have two words for you "back up". Needless to say we are paying for not having backed up all of our digital pictures and files. They are recovered, but there is a price to pay. Alas, I just got off the phone with our internet provider because our internet was not working properly.

As I climbed back behind the TV to get to the modem for the internet and I once again looked at all the wires and cables and dust, it just reminded me of how complicated life got in trying to be more efficient. Exactly when did this happen?

So into the office I went to find a book I recently got from the library. "Freedom of Simplicity" by Richard Foster. I really want to just write out the entire first two pages here for you to read. But how about just a small taste of what Richard Foster has to say:

Contemporary culture is plagued by the passion to possess. The unreasoned boast abounds that the good life is found in accumulation, that "more is better". Indeed, we often accept this notion without question, with the result that the lust for affluence in contemporary society has become psychotic: it has completely lost touch with reality. Furthermore, the pace of the modern world accentuates our sense of being fractured and fragmented. We feel strained, hurried, breathless. The complexity of rushing to achieve and accumulate more and more threatens frequently to overwhelm us; it seems there is no escape from the rat race.

Interestingly, Richard Foster wrote this book in 1981. Somehow when I look back on my own life, 1981 didn't seem so complicated to me; which tells me that there is something even far more simpler than I can imagine.

I don't believe there are easy answers or a one-size-fits all answer to living a simpler life. Each person or family faces different situations or challenges and must seek God's direction for them personally.

However, I have found a few things to be true. By changing my spending habits, thoughts and routines, spending less has resulted in us having more. Less on my calendar has resulted in more quality family time with my husband and children. Less ministry obligations has resulted in more personal ministry. Perhaps less really is so much more.

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