My 500 Words: Day 8

Living a life of simplicity is not necessarily only owning less (though that is a big part of it), it is rather living in such a way that nothing owns you.  This can be an offensive statement to someone who believes that their independence grants them the autonomy to purchase and consume what they want, when they want it.  After all, the money is there (sometimes), shouldn’t I be able to spend it any way that I want?

But this isn’t just about money.

This is about all of the resources that we have at our disposal.  Take for instance, time.  Each of us is given all of the time that we need, and the challenge to use the time that we have wisely.  Yet, so many people in our culture are scrambling and exhausted to pack into one day all of the activities that extend, and over-extend us in numerous directions.  We render this mindset into the lives of our family with the idea that if we are not active, then somehow we will all end up being bored.

Trouble is, we are entertaining ourselves to death.

We have bought into the lie that self-esteem comes with accomplishment.  Accomplishment comes from productivity.  Productivity comes from being involved.  Being involved leads us to packed calendars.  Packed calendars leave us with more and more to maintain and keep up with.

There is a proverb in the Scriptures that talks about training a child in the way they should go.  For many, this verse has come to mean that if we control the direction that our children go with the help of external forces of some kind, then we will be able to keep them framed in so tightly, that there is no way that they will leave a certain path.

What tends to happen then is that who the child actually is gets lost in the shuffle of maintaining all of the things that have been incorporated into the child’s life.  Because of the disease of doing and consuming, when our overextended children end up failing to live up to our expectations, our response is to find one more thing to pile on to their already tapped lives, with the hope that maybe this activity, or purchase will be the golden ticket to keeping them on the path.

The truth is, the idea of training a child in the way they should go actually means stripping away all of the things in their life that are not going to nurture who they really are so that they have the opportunity to be known.  Each one of us are unique.  Nobody will ever think they way that you do.  Nobody will ever feel the way that you do.  More ‘stuff’ whether it be time fillers or monetary purchases will ever help discover who a person actually is.

In order to train a child in the way they should go, we as parents need to cut through all of the ‘stuff’ of life, and actually get to know who they are so that their being may be uncovered.

This could be a scary pursuit for those who are not used to knowing and being known at the basic human level.  It is much easier to buy something that is going to temporarily provide a shallow sense of meaning, with the hope that happiness will follow.

Removing the clutter of activity and things in our homes will leave us vulnerable and exposed to the simple question, ‘Do I really know the people in my life?’

Is knowing and being known enough?

The simple answer is… yes.

Letting Go

minimalist-objectionsIt is often times easy to agree with sentiment… but it is the elements of complication, clutteredness, and functional systems of our culture that cloud the path towards living the values we may feel sentimental about.

The “good life” that defines the “American Dream” is practically lived out by how full, busy and complicated we can make our lives.  Look around and you will see that many people do not live simple lives.  Many are hoping to add one more thing to fill some void, only to find that everything that gets brought in to our lives brings the opportunity for more to go wrong.

It is an initation for more havoc.

Keeping life simple requires intention, and is not necessarily easy.  We like the thought… we also like choice.  Freedom does not come in having more… or doing more.  Rather freedome is keeping the first things… first.  Storing up treasures on earth puts us at risk of having to keep up with constantly protecting and replacing.

We don’t need all of the things or experiences that we think that we do.  Life is simple when one thing matters most: intimacy.

Simplicity will create space for our lives to be open with another.

Simplicity honors what has been right in front of us all along.

Simplicity gives us the leisure to enjoy who and what is sharing the present moment without being tangled in the maintenance of things that can be taken away.

Simplicity invites us into the day-to-day pleasures that otherwise would simply be passed by.

There will come a time when we realize that we are unable to handle all of the things that accumulate, and we will be forced to let go of most all of it.  We have to let go… and the sooner we become intentional about it in the now, the sooner we will be able to embrace all that each moment truly has.  It prepares us for a time that will come, when we will need to let go of everything… except the love we carry in our hearts for another.

Begin with your speech: let go of words that only convey half-truths.  Say what you mean… and mean what you say.

Identify areas of complication by intentionally choosing to let go of things you don’t really need.

Choose to limit your choices.  Do you really need hundreds of television channels?

If someone truly is impressed with something that you have, that you do not need… give it away.

“If you can’t take time to do nothing… you are a slave to doing.  Doing nothing is a radical, revoluationary act.  It frees you from the universal slavery of our age; slavery to the clock.  The clock measures doing but not being.”

-Peter Kreeft

For more resources: visit Becoming Minimalist