Back in December of last year Caleb and I moved from a home that was in a neighborhood that we didn’t seem to “fit” in. The homes were really close together, the yards were smaller than we would have hoped, and the homes, although beautiful, were way too big for what we were being called into. I’m not talking about family size either because I still firmly believe that, one way or another, God is going to fill our home until it is bursting at the seems. The home we were in is the home that the world expected of us: 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, a large game room, a massive pantry, an office that really could legally could be counted as a bedroom, and all of the upgrades a person could want.
When we were in the process of finding a home after living in our tiny condo, we were looking for big. We were feeling overly cramped in the condo we were living in and were in the process of adopting two boys from the DRC. So naturally, we pushed for bigger and better. However, what we didn’t realize was that we were believing the lie that Satan so easily convinces us is the truth: in order to provide for our family we needed more. More room for more toys, for more beds, for more kids, for more food, for more laundry, for more furniture, for more things.
Things. Things that, after we moved into that home, we realized were taking over our world. Things that filled every nook and cranny of that large home. Things that somehow had invaded our hearts to the point of having a real, deep, emotional connection with those said things. So many things and connections to things that our hearts started feeling pressed, busy, and even empty at times – regardless of how full our home really was.
As we started to feel the deepness of this emptiness and stress filled life, we started to realize that God was calling us to more. I think God started in my heart first because, He knew that I would be the hardest one to convince of this. I grew up in a family that left me no reason to need anything. (And as a parent, I cannot blame my family for that! As parents don’t we desire for our kids to have everything they could ever need and more. And even more than that, we desire for our kids to be happy… even though happiness isn’t what God desires for us – not that He doesn’t like that we are joyful, but joyfulness and happiness are two very different things… anyway.) The consequences of never wanting or needing in my youth is that I grew up with the distorted thought that things will make me happy and that is something to strive for. But as God slowly chiseled away at that lie that had become a wall between He and me, I started to feel suffocated by the paraphernalia that surrounded us.
I started to want to leave a neighborhood that made my heart desire things that weren’t of God. It was starting to become apparent to me that the neighborhood and the world around me was living in the joy of excess. My heart started to feel the weight of that and I wasn’t sure how to even approach that subject with Caleb.
Then one day I saw Caleb’s stress and frustrations with the excess of toys, clothes and junk in our lives. Not to mention, I could see that he was starting to get frustrated with the attitude of some of our closest neighbors – that bigger was better, more was more, expensive was to be strived for… And I could see him pushing against that until one day he said that he needed more space from people, he needed to come home and love to be at home, he needed to feel comfortable inside our home and outside of our home. It wasn’t more than a couple weeks later that he said that he wanted to move.
At first I pushed against that – I didn’t want others to look at us like we were young and crazy (even though we may be). I was more concerned with the lie that what other people thought about our obedience to God mattered. And then I started to feel something bubble up from my heart. We needed to simplify. We needed to slow down. We needed to have less and to live more. We needed to strive to teach our children that we don’t need all of our wants and that most of our “needs” are actually wants that have been hidden in Satan’s lies.
A long summer of getting rid of things and having our home on the market commenced and in a couple of months our home sold. The only catch was that we had 30 days to find our new home, sell our old home and move. So that weekend we looked at two homes and fell in love with one. The following day, we put an offer in (that was accepted) on a smaller home and accepted the offer that was put in on our old house. Two days later we were walking through our new home to see what else we needed to get rid of and found out that we were pregnant (SURPRISE)!
Now the funny thing about all of this is that we were moving from a home that was nearly 1000 square feet larger, had 4 or 5 bedrooms versus 3 bedrooms and a tiny office, and had 2.5 bathrooms versus the 3 full bathrooms… not to mention we were now expecting to have our family grow not only by two little boys but by a new baby as well. It terrified me. God had called us to simplify and in our obedience He grew our family.
I tell you all of this because I am still figuring out what it means to simplify. God has not only simplified the size of our home and the amount of things that we have, but He has simplified the excess of my busy schedule and caused our family to grow in the desire to get rid of even more. (He even simplified what we thought our family was going to be by now you can read about that here.) But as we have gotten rid of these things that really have no meaning and simplified our lives, I feel the tug all the more.
I am currently reading “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker to learn how I can continue to get rid of more and live with less so that more of me – more of my family – can be focused on living for God by giving where He calls us to be. And this is why I feel like this wonderful woman gets me and where I am at:
“Excess has impaired perspective in America; we are the richest people on earth, praying to get richer. We’re tangled in unmanageable debt while feeding the machine, because we feel entitled to more. What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2 a day, and we can’t manage a fulfilling life on twenty-five thousand times that amount? Fifty thousand times that amount?
It says we have too much, and it is ruining us.
It was certainly ruining me. The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change.” – Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
So here I am. This is where I land. We have started this journey of getting rid of the extras in our lives and I cannot stop where I am at. God is calling me to more. He is calling me to live purely on His grace, mercy and provision. I can’t continue to fight this battle in my heart of wanting to have more, it is all too exhausting!
With that being said, I am going to start this experiment – this fast. And I am going to bring you on this journey in my life to living in less. I want to share the highs and lows of what I am experiencing. My heart wants to be changed and I want you to hold me to it! Each week in the midst of all of my blogs my goal is to respond to that previous week – to share what God is doing in my life and what is changing inside of me. And hopefully, it makes a permanent change in my life and the life of my family.
Tomorrow I will start this adventure and I have one thing I would like to ask of you: will you pray for me? This is going to be the hardest thing that I have done in a long time in my personal life because I know that in this book it’s not the little things that I will be fasting from it will be the big things. In fact there are 7 things (get it??) that I will be fasting from in 7 months: food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. I’m not sure completely in what ways or how this will morph into my own journey that God starts to direct but I do know one thing: this has been a long time coming.
Here’s to living with less so that I can live more freely in the ways God is calling my family and me to go!