Tim and I have had a lot of talks about cutting back. Cutting back on spending, eating out less, drinking less, spending less time on our phones, the list goes on. But recently, we’ve been talking about what it would mean to cut back materially.
What would it be like to live with less “stuff” and how would our lifestyle and all the factors that play into it change because of owning less?
We both have an enormous amount of things which I’d say we only use about 20% of on a given week. We’re constantly bombarded with the idea that we always need more. More more more will fill that emptiness that we feel. We see this in ads, social media, tv shows, news feeds, etc. We're told that our happiness relies on materialism and without the next best thing in my shopping cart, I’m either a total loser or I’m bored and unhappy because I don’t have anything new to keep me entertained. I won’t get into the psychology of why our brains are hardwired this way, but I do know that each person has addictive tendencies that are essentially unquenchable.
I speak for myself when I say that I do live for the next best thing. I am constantly anticipating what big and exciting adventure I will encounter next in my life and when I have nothing on the horizon, either material or experiential, I get sad. Like the really upset kind of sad. I get restless and irritable when I’m not “pretty enough” because I don’t have the right make up or clothes, my house isn’t fashionable enough because 70% of the decor and furniture are hand-me-downs or craigslist deals. I don’t have a fun enough job because I take care of kids and I’m 25 and should have a trendy open concept office job where I sit in meetings and drink $5 lattes all day.
I won’t bore you with a list, but I think you get the picture with how hugely we’ve been engrained and taught to “need” what society tells us we need. I won’t say that humans don’t have essential needs, but I admit that Tim and I live in so much excess that we spend an incredible about of time taking care of our material lifestyle and not enough time with each other or our friends and family.
So, Tim and I have decided to purge.
To really ask ourselves “do I need this” or “what value is this giving me” in order to focus less on filling our void with “stuff” and more on filling it with what is truly important - our relationship with Jesus.
As I'm writing this, I'm thinking about some of my goals to aim for that are centered around living more with less: I want to spend less time thinking and anticipating what’s next (how will I keep myself, Tim and the baby entertained this weekend) I want to be genuinely satisfied with walking into a store and only buying what we need and not what we “could” need. As a mom, I want to become more patient and loving by spending more time with Felicity and sharing her with her family and friends rather than making up excuses to myself for why it’s “not a good time” for people to either visit or for me to make plans with people.
I want to commit.
To return phone calls and texts when I get them and live in the moment when the moment involves people. I want to only do laundry once a week, share dinner duties with Tim, go on more walks and kayaks, say yes to people when they offer to babysit, and agree with and thank people when they compliment me. To encourage Tim in his walk as a father and husband and trust him to lead us in this experiment. To pray together as a family and respond lovingly to hardships and miscommunications. I’m sure I could think of a thousand more goals, but my time to write today is almost up. Overall, I am elated and the fire to get started on this experiment has not even flickered.
God, give us the patience and endurance to walk this journey in your truth, because we so badly want to fill our emptiness with You.