Recently I heard a friend of a friend say, “I’m a minimalist.” She was talking about something totally unrelated to minimalism. My ears perked up and my heart skipped a beat. “She has 4 kids”, I thought. “How could she possibly be a minimalist?” I have 3 and I am drowning in my life.
As the week went on I could not shake the idea that this was what I was looking for. I started to realize I had been on a journey towards a more simplified life for a couple of years. I just didn’t know it until now.
You see, something inside me had been unsettled. Discontent. I felt like I was watching life pass me by as I went through my day to day routine. I remember sitting in my living room looking around at all of our stuff. My kids were asleep and my husband and I were watching TV, and it felt like the walls were closing in around me. Is this it? I figured I was having a midlife crisis. Wildly in love with my kids, my husband and my Savior Jesus Christ, but discontent in the trajectory I saw my life on. What if I was born 100 years ago? Our life would be so different.
My husband and I had been discussing whether or not we should drop a few hundred dollars to add cabinets to our kitchen, because our family of 5 was outgrowing the space. We had even been looking at the possibility of moving, building a new home or adding a 3rd car stall to our garage. It started to feel so meaningless. I felt like I was missing something…well, more like, missing the point.
I had come up with a few defense mechanisms for when I would feel this discontentment grow. “It’s okay, you are in a season of life where it’s just nuts.” Even better, I have a small sign in my kitchen that says, “Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids.” As my house fell apart around 4pm every weekday and I struggled to pull together a healthy dinner, I would pour myself a lovely glass of pinot grigio and toast my sign. The acceptance of the “season” I was in became my excuse. I wasn’t trying to make excuses; it makes sense. Two of my kids have different school pick up times and my one year old never gets a decent nap because of it.
I often describe myself as a really great mom, but a not so great homemaker. I had come to terms with the fact that we were doomed to live in chaos until my kids were old enough to keep their things picked up…so like, 40 more years (insert over the top eye roll). As I started researching how to become a minimalist and what minimalism stood for, I realized that maybe I wasn’t just bad at cleaning and keeping things organized. Maybe I just had too much crap!
Why I ever thought my child needed 22 Little People for her Little People princess castle is beyond me! And the couch pillows! I had 8 couch pillows on my main floor. 8! Who needs to exercise when you spend an hour a day bending over to pick up pillows and put them back on the couches.
I really started to get excited about the potential. Then I started thinking about how this lined up so well with my faith in Jesus Christ. John 10:10 says, “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” I was always taught that “abundantly” meant more. More health, more things, more house, more money, more success, more properties, more, more, more. What if abundance looks completely different? What if living abundantly means more peace, more contentment, more time to invest in what is real, what is important, more trust in His sovereignty? What if a rich and satisfying life doesn’t involve accumulation?
I recalled an article I had read within the last couple of months linking depression to clutter.
It turns out that clutter has a profound affect on our mood and self-esteem. CELF’S (UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families) anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found: A link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects. The more stuff, the more stress women feel.
I felt like it all made sense! I had risen above the fog and could finally see clearly. I knew what we had to do.
I presented this idea to my husband and the next day we were minimalists. Ok, not really. He was definitely on board, but it HAS and WILL continue to be a process. I am so looking forward to this process. We have purged a TON. Right now we are enjoying the fruit of that labor. The freedom and peace in our home is almost palpable to Paul and me. We are looking forward to beginning what I have been calling phase 2! In phase 2 we go deeper, removing even more of the unnecessary, so that we can pull from the clutter, things that bring us joy. Things that bring a truly rich and satisfying life.