If you grew up in America, chances are you grew up accustomed to stuff. We get stuff for every holiday. We get stuff just because. People list “shopping” as a favorite hobby. No matter your income level in our culture, you can get your hands on stuff. In and out of church circles, it is expected that your home’s walls be covered and you have the required things for any and every event.
At eighteen, I went out of the country for the first time. I experienced poverty on a level I had never personally seen before. But with blank walls and free space, I heard God more clearly than I ever had in my life. I came home to my room full of stuff and was completely disgusted. I gave away everything but my mattress. I slimmed down my closet to just what I could fit in a large backpack.
I wanted to be ready to fly to the other side of the world at any moment. And I did. I traveled with all of my belongings to Haiti, west Africa, and Scotland. Finally, I moved to Tennessee with that same estate, fitting inside one bag that I carried on the plane. When I met my sentimental, ”maximist” husband, we conquered this difference in lifestyle and started our marriage in minimalist bliss.
To me, this was a physical symbol of my life in Christ. Not of this world, not attached, not needing to spend unnecessary funds to move or maintain stuff. Through every season of life, every temptation to “plant roots” materially, I had withstood and lived differently. Until… Kids.
I went into motherhood with every good intention of having just a few simple toys, not too many baby items, just enough to get through each stage. But between baby showers, well-meaning family & friends, and generous gifts of hand-me-downs, my minimalist home was flooded with bright colors and toys that made so much noise. At the same time, everything about the season of becoming a mother caused my minimalist heart to be flooded with emotions and hormones that wreaked so much havoc. Nothing about me was minimal anymore. As my surroundings grew more and more crowded, my mind grew more and more clouded. For 4 years I’ve been in a haze of our stuff and my thoughts being everywhere.
As my youngest turned 18 months, and my hormones finally had a chance to find a rhythm again, the Lord’s sweet whisper finally cut through all the noise to remind me of who I am, of whose I am. Our lives have taken a completely different turn career-wise than expected. We are much more planted here in America than I would have ever fathomed. But that doesn’t mean that I have to “keep up with the Jones’”. I am paring down my kids’ things and finding that they can hear me more clearly and express themselves better. I am paring down the items in each room and finding that I see and hear the people in them more clearly. I am paring down the stimuli on my eyes and ears and hands and finding that I hear my God more clearly. I am remembering why I became a minimalist in the first place:
In a quiet, clear space, I hear my God first and only. And there’s nothing holding me back to follow Him, whether that’s to the other side of the world, or the other side of the room.