Live Simply. The Why For Us.
How this came to be an important pillar in our lives.
EPHIANY #1- WE’RE IGNORANT ABOUT STEWARDSHIP
In the Fall, Andy and I had joined a small group through our church. One of our Tuesday evening discussions was around stewardship. Christian Stewardship refers to the responsibility that Christians have in maintaining and using wisely the gifts that God has given us. We discussed what stewardship looked like in our lives today. After leaving that evening Andy and I had further discussions and I really didn’t feel like we were being great stewards for Christ or for our family. We didn’t know enough about it but we also didn’t make it a focus in our lives.
Yes, we don’t drive fancy cars or live lavish lifestyles and don’t care much for materialistic things but that’s not really what it’s about. I quickly realized we were nowhere near being the stewards we could be. We needed to focus on shifting our lives towards being good stewards of Christ. There are several facets to being a good steward but I’m really focusing firstly on abundance.
And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15 (ESV)
I went home that evening and looked around the house. We had ABUNDANCE. Abundant piles of clothes, shoes and toys and makeup that never got put away properly or used for that matter. Piles of clutter giving me insane anxiety and putting pressure on our marriage (the spats about tidying up, nothing major but still unnecessary). We were preparing to go on our year abroad in London and the thought of having to go through it all, figure out what to pack and take to London, what to do with the rest… it was insanely overwhelming and took away from my excitement of our upcoming move.
I just wanted it all gone. As I went through my piles of clothes I pulled out items I could sell on Poshmark or at my favorite secondhand shop. After all, I spent my hard earned money on those items, shouldn’t I get some money back? This is what I’ve always done in the past. I felt proud I could buy clothes and get money back when I was done with them.
WTH SARA! First off, when you put it like that… “I spent my hard earned money on those items” … Seriously countless hours plugging away at work, away from my kids, to enable me to buy a pair of jeans I maybe wore a handful of times!??! Then the second WTH SARA is why do you need to get money for it? We’re not hurting for money. Would I then use that money to go buy more clothes? So I took that pile of Gap, Express, Ann Taylor, J Crew, etc and put it into a bag to go to Goodwill. I don’t care if they sell my Gap jeans for 2 dollars. I hope someone who needs those clothes feels like they hit the jackpot. I hope it enables them to feel confident and beautiful in those clothes. They weren’t bringing me joy or contentment because I didn’t NEED them. But I sure hope that someone who does, finds contentment and joy.
“All Christians are but God's stewards. Everything we have is on loan from the Lord, entrusted to us for a while to use in serving Him.” - John MacArthur
We also gave all our baby stuff and toys we couldn’t take with us away to friends and family. Could we have taken it to Once Upon a child or FB marketplace? Sure. Did we need the money for it? NO. Could we just have left it at the house and dealt with it when we returned? YES but what a WASTE. Could it bring other children and families joy? YES! So I just started giving stuff away to people I know could use it and enjoy it. Abundant resources are intended to be shared generously!
EPHIANY #2- LIVING IT
For the month of November, my family lived in a temporary flat while we searched for our permanent flat. During that month we only had what we had physically carried with us on the plane. Our shipment of items from home weren’t meant to arrive until the second week of December. This meant I had to be very strategic about what I packed on the airplaine. After all, I was working full time in a business environment so I know I needed business clothes and weekend attire as well. That made it a bit tricky. I won’t go into detail but I will say I had PLENTY of clothes for work. Oddly enough, I realized I didn’t even wear the same outfit twice. I wouldn’t have minded if I had but it just worked out that way. I was able to mix and match perfectly.
The kids had ONE bag of toys and a handful of books for bedtime. This made picking up at night when they’d gone to bed a breeze. I can’t tell you how amazing this was. The kids were content, happy and entertained. We took the twin mattresses in their room and made them into “mountains” they could and did climb for hours. That month in temporary housing was so EASY and one of the best. Norah took her first steps there!!!!!!
“Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others. “- Augustine
We moved into our current flat without having our shipment yet from the States. Which made moving VERY easy. I received an email from the shipping company with our delivery date and my anxiety level went through the roof. I wanted to reply “SEND IT ALL BACK. WE DON’T NEED OR WANT IT!” We had this beautiful, minimalist flat in London and here we go again, filling our home with stuff we don’t NEED or really even want at that point.
Stewardship and Suitcases only led us to start on a journey living simply. We really started getting into exploring it further….
EPHIANY #3- SELF REFLECTION IS SCARY
My commute is much different than in the States. First off, I don’t have the kids with me. My awesome hubby walks them to school. Therefore, I get 30 minutes to myself to blend into the sea of other London Commuters. This means, black apparel, trainers (tennis shoes) and earbuds in at all times. Andy got me really interested in podcasts and the two I LOVE so much are Oprah’s soulful Sundays and The Minimalist. These have changed my life.
“The world asks, "What does a man own?" Christ asks, "How does he use it?" - Andrew Murray
One in particular from Oprah’s titled “Lynn Twist: The Soul of Money.” If someone were to look through your bank account would that be a good indicator of what you value? I envisioned my bank statement in my head- line items from Amazon, Sephora, Loft, etc. Visions of all my late night laying in bed online purchases. I justified it by getting things on clearance or sale. Problem with that is I’d get things I didn’t really love but they were on sale. So then came 10 just okay tops that I’d need to launder, iron, and hang up or throw in a pile. Then it really hit me, in the moments in bed what was I searching for? I usually get most of my anxiety at night right before bed. In these moments I searched for quick contentment and what’s quicker than “add to cart?” Damn amazon for making it even easier than that! I’m not entirely sure what I was searching for in those moments but I can tell you those online purchases did NOT give me long term contentment. They gave me a laundry pile and a cluttered bathroom sink I couldn’t even use the spicket. RARELY does a tangible item bring me long term contentment. WHAT A THOUGHT! Contentment doesn’t come from a shopping bag or hiding in “more is better!”
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 1 Timothy 6:7-8
Side note- as I reread the above I realized I was searching for contentment and ease to anxiety… why didn’t I initiate *you know what* with my husband instead? Surely I’d be content and relaxed after. But no really… why? Countless articles claim cell phones to be killing relationships!
So to recap:
We needed to be a better Stewards of Christ.
We had a wasteful abundance (clothes, shoes, toys, makeup)
In 30 days of only a suitcase- more content than ever!
I was seeking contentment that was easily available and didn’t provide long lasting contentment- in fact it was CREATING MORE stress and anxiety!
In another post, I’ll share with your our tactics for living re minimally. It’s a whole lot easier than you think and you’ll learn SO MUCH ABOUT YOURSELF!