Why Minimalism?

A few weeks ago, I had the joy of spending some time with my Great Uncle Fred. Though I haven’t spent much time with him in my life, I can safely say he’s a hilarious wealth of stories, travels and a life very well lived. He also happens to read this blog from time to time, for which I am deeply honored!

When we were together at his son Brian’s lake house, he asked me why I want to live a minimalist lifestyle. I said, “Because it helps me focus on what really matters in life.” While this is a true and honest answer, I wish we would have had more time to talk about it. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that someone who isn’t a minimalist can’t focus on what’s important in life, although I think living minimally makes it easier.

I always want to make the disclaimer that minimalism means different things to different

minimalism-definition
Photo taken: The Stephanie Inn; Cannon Beach, OR

people and I believe it’s helpful to provide my definition of it before I can really flesh out it’s full appeal in my own life. I’d define minimalism as “The pursuit of simple living; keeping just enough possessions, things on my mind and things on my schedule to encourage living in and being thankful for each moment.”

Here are the reasons minimalism is attractive to me…perhaps loosely in order of least to most important.

1. Cleanliness and Order. I struggle with anxiety, people. One of the things that always makes me feel more calm is to be surrounded by clean, clear, open and well-organized spaces. I’ve always been a fairly neat/organized person, but as I began to get rid of physical possessions, I realized my time spent cleaning our house went down a good bit. Since I am the maid around here, that was highly appealing to me. The less crap I have to pick up to wipe down the surfaces in my home, the faster I can speed through cleaning. This is also one of the reasons I like the idea of a smaller home. The less time I spend cleaning these worldly possessions that cannot accompany me to the hereafter, the better, if you ask me. And of course, a less cluttered room = a calmer, more contented Sarah.

2. Financial Freedom. Most folks pursuing minimalism are highly motivated by this one. Interestingly, the more things I give away, the less I want to bring into my home. If something is not needed, or being used, I typically consider it unnecessary clutter. I don’t buy as much stuff now because I just don’t want more stuff; it doesn’t matter to me like it used to. Personally, I have found great blessing in wanting less vs. wanting more.  I would much rather use money for things that are more important and more in line with my values as a person – like helping others, traveling and experiences.

3. Rejecting Materialism. Our culture is constantly selling us the idea that we need more, newer, bigger, better things to be happy. Yet, some of the most destitute people in our world are the most content and some of the richest people in our world are the most miserable. I’m not implying that all rich people are miserable. Just that this notion that we’d all be more content if we were richer is a lie. I honestly did not know this deeply and in my soul until I started giving things away. It was only when I consciously decided to get rid of things that I realized how much I actually already had (and how little I really need). This sounds so silly and bratty to me now, but I never considered NOT following a trajectory of bigger and better; apartment to house to bigger house to even bigger house or reasonable car to nicer car to even nicer car. I never would have called myself materialistic before I minimized my belongings; materialism would not have been on a list of my values. And yet, I used to think and behave in a decidedly materialistic way. Minimalism reminds me not to go back to that way of thinking. It teaches me how much is enough for me – and I didn’t know what was “enough” until I gave a bunch of stuff away. I could still give more and not suffer in the least, and knowing that makes me overflow with humility and gratitude.

4. A Personal Response to Global Issues. One of the very first things that led me to pursue minimalism (although I didn’t know that word at the time) was a soul-gripping awareness of how we live here in America as compared to the rest of the world. I’ve always “known” we are mighty fortunate, but after fostering a more global awareness, it finally became real to me. I found myself feeling inauthentic and restless in the face of what others around the world must endure; from extreme poverty to persecution for faith in Jesus. I know I don’t deserve the wonderful life I’m blessed with; I know I “have it better” than so many people in the world. It feels wrong not to respond to that in some way. For me, there’s a fine line between feeling guilty for all God has blessed me with, and being humbly thankful for those blessings. It’s something I must be careful about because ultimately, I desire to live in the moment with a grateful heart. But as I’ve purged belongings, events from my schedule and thoughts from my mind, the clarity I’ve found always leads me back to both generosity and gratitude. I have come to view minimalism as a first step in thoughtfully responding to global issues in my own little ways. It encourages me to continue giving and asking myself and God how else I’m meant to respond.

5. My Faith. For me, this is most important reason to pursue minimalism. I have learned that when I pursue minimalism for calm surroundings, less financial burden, and a deliberate turn from the magnetic pull of materialism, it helps me keep an eternal perspective and see Jesus more clearly. When I begin to strip away my excess, I am more free to pursue the life He wants me to live – not focused on myself or on getting MORE. While we are never in complete control of how much God decides to bless us with monetary riches, we are ALWAYS in control of what we decide to do with whatever money we have. The Bible tells us to be good stewards of what we have (be wise financially!). It tells us to hold loosely to the things of this world and live with an eternal perspective (avoid materialism!). It tells us that the love of money (not money itself) is the root of all evil. It tells us that it is harder for a rich man to get into Heaven. My logic tells me that when I pine for bigger, better things, when I already have more than enough, I am both engaging the root of all evil, and I’m making it harder for myself to live for the Lord. In short – I believe minimalism is a way of living that helps me be consistent with the teachings in the Bible.

Does the minimalist lifestyle appeal to you? What is your own definition of minimalism, and why is it a worthy way to live (or not) in your opinion?

The Pride of Insecurity

I just finished reading a seriously incredible book. It’s probably in my personal top 5 now: Allison Vesterfelt’s “Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage.”

It’s the story of how Allison (Ally) and her friend Sharaya decided to quit their jobs and go on a 6 month road trip, visiting each of the 50 states. Ally writes that the trip was part of a dream for each of them (writing for her, singing/performing for Sharaya), how they got by, people they met, people they reconnected with, people and things they lost and lessons learned.

As if that wasn’t enough to intrigue me, (hello, blog post of a few weeks ago where I swoon about the idea of prancing on the west coast for 6 months) once I started reading this book, it was almost like I was reading words I could have written. It was as though I’d gone on the wild adventure I always convince myself wouldn’t be possible for someone like me, and I was reading the lessons I’d learn if I ever found the courage to do it.

So many things jumped off these pages and into my soul that I could probably blog for days on end about this book. But one of the most glaring was a particularly relatable diatribe of how Ally dreads the question: “What do you do?” She’s a twenty-something who has a dream of being a writer; who quit her job to travel the country with a plan to blog about it and write a book. Not sure any of this will pan out, she finds herself bogged down in insecurity about how to answer the question.

I get it. I quit my job, I’ve started a blog and I’m working on writing a book, too. No one is paying me. I have to set my own deadlines and goals. I worry about how others perceive what I’m doing. Do they think I’m just goofing off, wasting my life? Do they think I have nothing important to do because I’m not getting paid when I work at my craft? What do I even say when people ask me what I do? My answer to that question is usually plagued with insecurity, as I mumble something about reading, working out, cooking, cleaning and I’m actually, er, kind of, um, working on writing a book. (I’m silently lamenting how awkward I am in these conversations.)

Ally writes this about insecurity: “I wish I could pass off insecurity as a burden to bear and everyone would feel really sorry for me, but the more I think about it the more I see that my insecurity is really pride. My insecurity makes everything all about me.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. Honestly, I’ve never really thought pride is something I struggle with.  And on the surface, many of us would think insecurity relates more closely to humility than pride. In fact, one of the easiest ways insecure people disguise their insecurity is in a fog of “humility.” For an insecure person, it’s easy not to take credit for something; not to call attention to yourself. It’s easy to brush off accomplishments by attributing them to someone other than yourself. Because we’re never quite sure we can hack it.

Perhaps the temptation to be an insecure person masquerading as a humble person is extra-easy to fall into for Christians. Because that “someone” we attribute everything to is God.

By no means am I saying that God isn’t involved in our accomplishments, nor am I saying He shouldn’t get any credit for them. Of course He should! I’m merely pointing out that TRUE HUMILITY is what God wants from us, and true humility is not insecurity. It’s not through self-hatred or self-deprecation that we ought to hoist our God onto His throne.

True humility says, “I don’t deserve anything God has blessed me with, but I’m so thankful for the life He’s given me that I want the decisions I make to reflect intense gratitude. I want to live life confidently in His love; sharing my blessings freely with others, in His name, to the best of my ability.”

So when I thought about insecurity as it relates to pride, I began to see it in a new light. I’m insecure at least twice a day – at least once about my physical appearance, and at least one more time about the question: “What do you do?”  When I am insecure, I am making everything about me. I’m comparing myself to others and either finding reasons why I’m not what I wish I was, or trying to make myself feel better. When I’m insecure, I’m elevating myself to a place of importance that I don’t even have! Do most people even care what I weigh or what I’m wearing or what I do with my life? Not nearly as much as I act like they do. Pride screams that it’s all about ME.

Ally writes, “There comes a point where we don’t need anyone to tell us who we are anymore, we just need to take the information we have and run with it.”

I think what she’s saying is…let the insecurity fall away. Trust that God made you who you

passion
Photo Taken: Cannon Beach, OR

are and put your passions in your heart. Recognize what makes you feel alive; look for the place where your passion and the world’s needs meet and go towards it. “Take the information you have and run with it.” Trust God for the rest.

It’s a freeing way to live, and one I know I need to reach for daily. And somehow, identifying the pride inherent in insecurity helps me put insecurity aside. It reminds me, “Hey, lighten up! Things aren’t all about you and you don’t need anyone to tell you who you are. God made you, loves you, and is in your corner. Run with it.”

 

Casting Stones

Friends, I just have to say that I am consistently, completely and utterly disgusted by the lack of kindness in our world and the overabundance of judgment.

And we are all guilty of failing to be kind and judging; each and every one of us. That includes me. And you.

I have had a lot on my mind in the wake of the awful tragedy in Orlando and the ensuing, endless arguing, name-calling and unproductive dialogue on social media. What I see exploding all over the internet today makes me feel sick, sad, angry, and even a little defensive all at the same time.

Hopelessness for our world begins to creep in when so many precious lives are lost all at once for no reason. Hopelessness tugs at me as I watch those of us who are still here start pointing fingers and declaring where the blame “clearly” belongs.

A few weeks ago, I sat in church listening to an incredible part of a journey through the book of Romans. We talked about judgment and how we as humans aren’t fit (or called upon) to judge others. The majority of the talk was directed at Christians.

In Jesus’ time, the “religious folks” of the day sat on their high and mighty thrones, judging everyone for not being as good as they were. They condemned others for breaking God’s laws (which the others did). But they were routinely reprimanded by Jesus for their haughty ways.

Let me be clear that as a Christian with many Christian friends and acquaintances, the picture of Christianity that’s so often presented today saddens me deeply and does not reflect the kind of life that many of us lead. We’re called hateful, we’re called archaic, and we’re called out of touch with reality.

A good bit of that rhetoric will always be there; Jesus said as much.

But we are not without blame, church. We, too, like the religious folk of old, so easily sit behind our fences and point out the sins of others.

Yet Romans 2:1 says, “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.”

While this passage is directed at the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, I believe it holds

kindness
Photo taken: Gibbs Gardens, Ball Ground, GA

priceless wisdom for ALL of us today; Christian or not. The Bible says to “let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” (Hint: ain’t nobody justified to throw stones.)

I would also like to be clear that I believe in right and wrong. I have opinions and beliefs just like everyone else. But I also know that I am not the judge. That’s God’s job-not mine, not yours.

Hug a gay friend today, you guys. Send kind words to a horrified and scared community of fellow human beings on this planet, whom God loves. Let them, or any other individual or group that has suffered a tragedy (recent or not) know that you haven’t forgotten.

After all, your kindness will go a lot farther than your preaching.

To quote the wonderful Oswald Chambers, “Jesus Christ was always consistent in His relationship to God, and a Christian must be consistent in his relationship to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to strict, unyielding doctrines. People pour themselves into their own doctrines, and God has to blast them out of their preconceived ideas before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ.”

 

The Art of Abandon

As I’ve continued to read about and pursue minimalism in my life, I’ve found that it beautifully complements and encourages what I’ve been learning in my faith walk as well. In fact, I’d say these days, the two are deeply intertwined.

Letting go of material possessions and learning to hold loosely to the things that remain has me viewing my own faith in new light. It has me holding myself to a higher standard than I used to and questioning my motives. It has me fired up about how many of us might be missing out on the joy of a simple life; a life of real, full, joyful abandon to our God. A life that isn’t searching for security or happiness in the things of this world, but finds joy in the beauty of the present moment. True contentment.

Since I began my own version of this journey, I’ve become increasingly wary of and skeptical of the pursuit of material possessions. I’ve also realized the many, many ways that I (and tons of other Christians) justify these sorts of pursuits. In fact, the message that we all need something bigger, better, or more is so ingrained in most of us that we barely have the ability to recognize it. We work hard to afford all the things we think we need.

Far beyond material possessions, we all get so bogged down in OUR lives and OUR wants and OUR finances and OUR dreams and bettering OURselves and OUR everything that we forget there’s a greater purpose to life than US. My biggest beef with a lot of the literature on minimalism (and even a lot of what I’ve heard in church culture) is that it subtly encourages selfishness. Today’s world encourages far too much focus on ME. This too is such an integral part of our culture that we hardly notice this preoccupation, either.

Without intentional vigilance, we become shackled and consumed by our stuff and by our own concerns. We forget that life is about our Creator, and not what He can do to help us achieve our wants. We want to control our lives. We forget to let Him control, to hold loosely, to be “cautiously carefree.”

My favorite morning devotional is “My Utmost for His Highest,” written by Oswald Chambers. I love it because it’s not all fluff. It’s real, challenging, and causes the best kind of uncomfortable soul-searching for Christians.

Monday’s devotional said, “Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in us? Is it the Devil? No – ‘the cares of this world’ (Matthew 13:22). It is always our little worries. We say, ‘I will not trust when I cannot see’ – and that is where unbelief begins. The only cure for unbelief is obedience to the spirit. The greatest word of Jesus to His disciples is ‘abandon.'”

This is so timely and practical for us, Christians. Ultimately, our attempts to control our lives shut God out. Ultimately, control is unbelief – a huge sin. I think many Christians have decided to serve a very small God. We aren’t abandoned. We’re holding on tightly to things, beliefs, ideas about how we think our lives ought to turn out, our problems, our frustrations, our looks…the cares of this world.

We forget there is a world after this one; that our hope comes from Him alone.

In a fantastic message this Sunday, our pastor gave a list of 4 specific things we do that incite this conflict with God and spark His wrath:

  • We suppress the truth
  • We stop seeing God in creation
  • We don’t give thanks
  • We buy into the religion of “me”

How much of this do we see in ourselves, in our actions? Are we letting the Truth of God’s Love flow through us? Are we actively looking for His love all around us? Are we thanking Him for everything we have (and don’t have)? Is our religion more about ourselves and what we want than it is about Him and His purposes?

As pastor Alan said, we have over-desires. It’s the culture we live in, it’s the insidiousness of being too focused on ourselves. And in Romans 1:18-25, we see God giving people over to their desires, in hopes that they, that we, will return to Him when that thing we want or think we need doesn’t satisfy (because it can’t).

The mere idea that God would “give me over” to some earthly thing I desire because He wants me to find it void, and return to Him is terrifying to me. I hope I never hold onto any care of this world that tightly.

The cares of the world scream at us, pull us this way and that, promising to eventually

cautiously carefree
Photo taken: Gibbs Gardens, Ball Ground, GA

make us feel peaceful, feel at home. But nothing on this earth can do that. Nothing here can fulfill that longing we have. That is the hope of Heaven!

Let’s stop pursuing it in our material possessions. Let’s stop pursuing it in our relationships. Let’s stop pursuing it in our worldly accomplishments, in a quest for perfection or in the way we look.

Again, I go back to Oswald Chambers as he writes, “Jesus did teach that His disciple must make his relationship with God the dominating focus of his life, and to be cautiously carefree about everything in comparison to that.”

So Christians, let’s keep asking ourselves: what is the dominating focus of my life? What do I spend most of my time thinking about, doing, talking about, writing about, reading about? Is it my relationship with Him? Or is it the cares of the world?

Let’s be vigilant; aware of the culture around us – both inside and outside the church. We will never be perfect, but we must strive to be holy in our relationship to Him. Let us hold loosely to all else; cautiously carefree and abandoned to His will alone.

 

Therefore, GO

Part of this process of simplifying life involves taking a hard look at myself and my habits. This means I must be willing to confront ugliness and disobedience to God in myself.

I used to think way too much about myself and what I wanted. God has been changing my heart in big ways, and I am so thankful to Him for that. After all, if I am to place Him above me, I want and need Him to shine a light in my darkest places.

As a Christian, the idea of dying to self and living for Jesus is not new, but in this journey it’s becoming more real and tangible. I must become less, He must become more. Giving away material possessions and the resulting desire to have less rather than more encourages me to look up rather than in; encourages me to lower self and elevate Him.

Of course, I am far from perfect and still tempted to spend too much time thinking about me. The very hardest thing to let go of is your own life-in complete abandonment to what God has planned. But His will is best, not mine. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”

Likewise, the notion that as believers, we are called to tell others about God is nothing new. And I think this command can look very different in different people’s lives. But the fact remains that if we are not telling others about Jesus, we are not being obedient.

Matthew 28:18-20 says: “Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Therefore, GO. This is part of God’s will for believers. What does GO look like in your life? In mine? I believe the Lord will show us if we will only give up control and let Him. Today, GO might look like sitting in the quiet and writing. Tomorrow, GO might look like inviting a friend that’s struggling to dinner or coffee. Next year, GO might look much bigger or much different. Regardless of what GO looks like each day, month and year, God promises to be with us. That is great news!

And as I learn and practice simple living one day at a time, I find it easier to be present in the present, not wishing or worrying about tomorrow’s GO. Of course we can’t take day-to-day living to an extreme; some planning and thoughtfulness about the future is certainly not wrong. But it becomes a hindrance if we do it in excess. There is a difference between obsessive planning and an unyielding adherence to our own idea of what God is going to do vs. trust, patience and flexibility.

see blessings
Photo: Taken en route to Riviera Maya, Mexico

This is something I have to be very diligent about, given my propensity to control. The practice of letting go has never come easily to me. Perhaps that is the reason I feel compelled to pursue it now.

I would encourage finding ways to let go. What are you holding tightly to that might need to be abandoned back into His care? Take a break from worrying, take a deep breath and see all the blessings you already have. Look at the life God has given you with fresh, thankful eyes. There’s always something to be thankful for.

Remember that feelings are fickle and it’s a choice to indulge in the negative ones. As a fantastic article I read this morning pointed out, “You can stop complaining about your life circumstances, about your losses, about how the world is, and just let go and love what is. Just be. Just accept. Just appreciate.”

You have all you need to enjoy today. Practice looking up instead of in and be flexible enough to go where He leads, when He leads.

The Life-Changing Magic of Simplicity

One of the things that both fascinated and excited me after reading Marie Kondo’s Books was her assertion that once you “tidied up your life for good” you’d uncover or discover long-lost passions or your life’s purpose.  In short: your life would change, beyond just having less stuff.

And after reading countless tales of Kondo’s clients who found themselves with different lives post-tidying, I stood with heart and arms open to whatever God would bring my way in the process.

Now that I’ve completed all tidying categories (plus re-visiting several and letting go of things continuously), life is indeed different; different in some of the most unexpected ways.  Now that I’ve had time to absorb the process, it’s becoming very clear to me what exactly has changed and why it does indeed feel so magical. Here are my biggest 3:

Writing.  Perhaps the most profound revelation I’ve had since tidying and simplifying is the desire to write again.  I’ve written on and off in various forms for as long as I can remember.  But I’ve realized as I’ve documented my tidying journey that writing is truly “what I want to do.”  Like….in life.  And honestly, that alone is a big enough revelation for me, especially since the entire past year has been about pursuing God and His purpose for my life.

And as I’ve begun to reflect on this, it’s quite remarkable.  I think about imagery often

life hidden under clutter
Photo Taken: Gibbs Gardens; Ball Ground, GA

used by minimalists and those seeking simplification: that your real, big, purposeful, meaningful life is hidden under years of clutter-whether physical or mental or otherwise. This impacts me so because as I look back on my life, the desire to write has ALWAYS been there.  I just meandered away from it, slowly, over time.  I came back to it a few times, but I never realized that perhaps this is what I’m meant to do until now.

I used to journal and write poems as a kid, tween and angsty teen.  I was on the newspaper staff in high school.  When I first declared my major in college, it was journalism/communications.  As a young adult, writing has always been a major outlet for me.  I’ve always had a vague desire to write a book.

Let me be clear that I regret NOTHING about the decisions I made in life… including changing majors to business/marketing, getting an MBA, and all the jobs and skills I’ve learned since graduating.  I am so thankful and grateful for the way this life has unfolded and I can see that the experiences God led me to are proving invaluable to me now.

And today…life is different; it is changed.  I started this blog and write on it frequently.  It keeps me accountable and grounded and challenged.  I have started writing a book.  I recently submitted an article to one of my favorite websites about simplifying life, and it was approved to be published.  The feeling of pursuing and doing what you love is completely magical. In a way, none of this *should* be a surprise.  And yet, to my soul, it is.  It’s a lovely, beautiful, God-given surprise and I am so humbled and grateful for it.

Photography.  Another life-changing bit of magic that has become very clear and taken me off-guard is a desire to learn photography.  After writing about letting go of sentimental items, I was thinking about my love for pictures; how being transported back to an event or place through pictures has always been one of my deepest joys in life.  And while I love capturing moments with friends and loved ones, I have always had a special affinity for the beauty of God’s creation. Among my favorite things to photograph are the ocean, beach, sky, trees and flowers.  As I’ve worked on this blog and chosen background images for quote graphics, I’ve been selecting from nature shots I have been taking for years.  Countless sunsets (and a few sunrises!), ocean and water shots, close ups of the beach, of flowers, of the sky through the trees and mountains and cliffs and pathways have been captured over the years.

Just like writing, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that I want to take a photography class, but the fact remains that I could not see it until now.  I am pleased to report that I (along with a friend!) have signed up to take an intro to photography class in May and I can’t wait!

Art. I started taking adult art classes well before my tidying journey began.  However, it has also emerged as a possible area of focus for the future.  My favorite thing to paint is (you guessed it) nature.  I love painting photos that I took while on vacation or visiting somewhere new and beautiful.  That makes the idea of learning photography even more exciting!  I’m not sure where art will take me, though I’ve had the notion to open an Etsy shop someday, possibly even as a joint venture with my fabulously talented and artistic mother.  In any case, it’s another wonderful and intriguing idea that God has planted in my mind now that I’m making an effort to live simply enough to hear it.

I think all of these things feel so magical because I am realizing that they’ve always been a part of me.  They are utterly life-changing because I now have the time, space and energy to pursue them.  There is no part of me that feels sad that I haven’t focused on them until now; I know that God’s timing is perfect and I wouldn’t trade His path for me for anything.

I’m excited to continue challenging myself, letting go, simplifying possessions, habits, thoughts and anything else that God shows me.  Ultimately, He will get the glory for anything that I accomplish, and I know that He will use me in whatever ways He sees fit to better His Kingdom.  My prayer is that I remain open and willing.  Cheers to simplicity!

Keeping an Eternal Perspective

One of the things I think a lot about as I reduce the amount of things in our home is eternity.

I remember years ago, a series Louie Giglio did called something like “Living as if Heaven is Your Great Reward.”  While I cannot recall specifics from the nights he spoke about this topic, it always stuck with me. And these days, I think I’m finally scratching the surface of what it means to live life in light of the reality of Heaven.

Anna R. Brown Lindsay said, “We may let go all things which we cannot carry into the

let go of things
Photo taken in Isle of Palms, SC

eternal life.”  What a timely sentiment as I seek to let go of worldly possessions.  The reality is, no matter how much wealth or how many things we amass on this earth, they will not accompany us to our coffins and/or to the hereafter.

People rightly strive to have the basics needed to live, and it’s OK to have things that you want too, but there IS a point where buying more or getting more will no longer satisfy whatever it is you’re longing for. That point may look different for different people, but I believe it is something worth really, honestly exploring in your own life.

Even if you don’t believe in Heaven or anything after death, why not think about how much “stuff” the people you leave behind on this earth will have to deal with?  This is not a pleasant thought, but it honestly is one that I think about as I tidy and de-clutter and vow to remain vigilant about how much stuff we let enter our home.  I don’t want to pass away some day and leave a mansion and a storage unit filled with STUFF for my loved ones to deal with.  I’d much rather pass on things that I truly cherished, found joy in, or that meant something to me or to our family.  This kind of thinking gets us outside of ourselves, thus I think it’s important to consider as we decide how much space and how many things we really require to live.

Keeping an eternal perspective keeps you grounded; keeps you focused on what really matters in life.  In the end, it will not matter what car I drove, or what my house looked

obey god help people
Photo taken in Highlands, NC

like, or what I wore today.  Those things will pass away.  What will matter is whether or not I made other people feel loved in the time I had here.  In one of her many books, Joyce Meyer wrote that while Jesus was here on earth,  “He focused on obeying God and helping people.”  We would do well to follow that example as best we can.

And let us remember that God takes us all on our own paths; we each have the opportunity to have our own special and rich relationship with Him.  The things He asks of me probably will not be the things He asks of you.  You have unique talents that I do not possess and vice versa.  And I believe that nothing will make us more content on this earth than putting our relationship with God first, obeying what He leads us to do, and loving people.  I hope at the end of the day, He will tell me I did well with these things.

Until next time,

S