According to the LA times, the average American home holds approximately 300,000 items, The National Public Radio states that the average square footage of a home has more than doubled since the 1950s, and Federal Reserve statistics say that each household in America owes about 16,140 dollars in credit card debt.
I think we have this desire to crowd our lives. We don’t like the clutter, and we aren’t afraid to tell others that, so we spend countless hours cleaning our houses and tidying away the clutter and unused items every time company is due to arrive. Not only do we have a plethora of items to organize, but we have way too much space to fill.
Who drives through a neighborhood of nice, spacious houses and has a hard time not picturing yourself standing in the doorway of one of those houses wearing a huge smile?
More & bigger = happy.. right?
I, personally, got sick of my own attempts to declutter my room and life, and with college quickly approaching, I knew I couldn’t possibly take all my possessions with me. I desired a fresh start and the idea of coming home from college to a clean, simple room with only a few items waiting for me.
So, I got rid of everything. Well, mostly everything. I only have things that I use. My wardrobe consists of only things I know I will use, and if I don’t end up wearing something, I find someone to give it to who I know will use it more than I did. I removed decorations that felt untidy and chaotic. And I realized that when I have items that sit stagnant, occupying pointless space in my room, I feel more stressed. I learned to love a plain, cream wall and an almost empty desktop.
I don’t consider this minimalism. I don’t have a goal of how many items I want to own, because I don’t want this to be a competition. I don’t torture myself when I go shopping, but I have learned my boundaries as to what is worth buying. I just simply be simplistic and only purchase things that will bring me joy or things that I need.
I plan to apply this simplistic style to every aspect of my life because I realize that America has become consumed with consumerism. For example, we view holidays as a time to give gifts. We create Christmas lists, birthday lists, and now even Easter lists. We take what we can get from the world because we believe that we have a right to purchase whatever our hearts want. I mean, we made the money, so we can spend it as we choose, right? Or, it is the anniversary of the day we were born, so we have a right to make a list of things we want but don’t need.
As an act of stewardship, I think we need to realize that money isn’t something to throw around aimlessly. I know many of us have far more than we need, which in turn causes us to be blind to those suffering around us.
Simplifying my life has taught me to truly appreciate what I own. I can put to good use all the items I own, instead of just using a few of the dozens that clutter my life. I used to have 6 pairs of jeans and would only wear 2 of them regularly, so I gave away the ones I didn’t need or use. I actually feel better when my life is simple. All of my possessions fulfill their purpose.
I believe that placing value in consuming and gathering items may seem to lead to pleasure, but this pleasure is strictly earthly. It isn’t comparable to the joy that comes in appreciating your possessions and building your life on memories and experiences instead of items. Leading a simplistic life takes the focus off of worldly items and places it onto heavenly things.
You can do it just like I did! But, you can’t do it on your own. Having a simple heart isn’t easy, because this world is crazy influential and is constantly trying to convince us that more = happy. If we believe that buying items will lead to happiness then why do we need Jesus?
Living a simple life reminds me of the true reason I am living. Not to accumulate all I can on this earth, but to praise Jesus with my whole heart, and for me, the constant need to purchase items got in the way of that true purpose.
So, today, and everyday, I choose not to build my own kingdom of unnecessary items up here on Earth. I choose to find joy in the simplicity of my belongings, and venture outside of my safe home to be in awe of the complexities God created around me.