I like to run. It’s the perfect time for thinking. Usually my thoughts are limited to side aches, getting through another mile, and counting the seconds until I reach the top of the hill. But occasionally, once I get over the tired lungs and blistered feet, I think about other things. On a particular run months ago I passed my house. I looked over, saw my worn out Audi sitting in the driveway, and prayed. “God, please let us be able to replace that car.” It was then I was struck with some inspiration. Let’s move somewhere small, something cheaper, maybe a carriage house. Maybe the apartment over the garage of the family I nanny for. I came home sweaty and excited and told Tanner my idea. “Let’s try to live super minimally for a year and save money!”
Things fell into place and at the end of the month we will be moving from our 1500 square foot house with three bedrooms, a kitchen with more cabinets you can imagine, too many closets to fill, a garage, and a storage shed to an 700 square foot semi-studio apartment above the garage of the family I nanny for. Did I mention it was an a-frame? That makes the actual living space much smaller than the square footage. In other words – we are majorly downsizing this summer.
I have pulled out our plastic tubs, ready to be filled with things to get rid of, ordered my copy of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and have come up with nine reasons to try this thing called minimalism.
1. I want to live within my means.
Or possibly even under my means. I want to use only what we earn, to avoid the lifestyle of debt, and to set aside money to save, invest with, and give away. Big houses with large utility bills and empty rooms to fill won’t help me achieve this goal.
2. I want my home to hold only what sparks joy. (Look – I’m already using the tips from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.)
I want to intentionally asses every item that is in our home. Does it bring us joy – either directly (like a beautiful piece of art that we found on vacation) or indirectly (like extra batteries for our headlamps that we use when camping).
3. I want to minimize time spent cleaning and maintaining.
The more square feet I live in the more time I have to devote to maintaining it. Vacuuming thoroughly is at least an hour long commitment in a 1500 sqaure foot house. Keeping things dusted regularly is daunting. Stacks of junk mail accumulate and require sorting time if there is space to set it. The more stuff we own the more our stuff owns us.
4. I want to spend less time making decisions.
If I only have two dozen books on my book shelf rather than two hundred I can more quickly choose the next book to read. If I only have several articles of clothing the ever daunting question of what to wear each day is eliminated.
5. I want to simplify my home in hopes that it will be a catalyst to simplifying my life.
The home we live in is directly related to the life we live. If our environment is cluttered and chaotic how can our lives be anything but cluttered and chaotic? If our home is tidy, organized, and peaceful I’m sure it will have bearing on our lives.
6. I want my home to reflect who we are.
I want our home to tell others a true story about our family. The decorations we use, the pictures we hang, the books we shelve, the colors we choose – these will all speak of who we are. I want this representation to be genuine.
7. I want to cultivate contentment in my home.
The more stuff we accumulate the more we want. I am eager to be a family who is content with what we have and the lives we are living, and not always hungry for something more. And when the time comes, I want to raise non-stuff oriented kids.
8. I would rather have a few nice things that I love and that work for us really well then an abundance of decent stuff I acquired from thrift stores, garage sales, and hand-me-down boxes.
I want one good pair of jeans that I love putting on, rather than six mediocre options that I acquired from Goodwill. I want four excellent knives rather than a knife block full of junky ones.
10. I want to be free to follow God anywhere He calls.
Sell your possessions, give to the poor, find your treasure in heaven, and follow me. These are the direct words of Christ spoken to the rich young man in Matthew 19. I want to hold my possessions lightly, have resources left over to give, and be flexible to follow Christ wherever He calls us.
There’s other perks – like the fact that we’ll only have one place to be so our home will cultivate togetherness. I might be able to make some money on my lightly used juicer. With the money we’re saving on rent for a big house will hopefully fund that new car I’ve been praying for, and we’ll hopefully be able to work towards savings for a down payment for our own home someday. But at the end of the day I love the idea of experimenting with what works best for our family. It may not work – I’m aware of it. It may be that small living spaces won’t be the best venue to further the Kingdom. But we’re in our mid-twenties, mostly unattached, and have been living on hand-me-downs, so this is the perfect time for some experimenting. By the end of this season of minimal living I’m hopeful we’ll know better our needs and preferences.
Stay tuned for more tales from this journey. There will be some great excitement as I decide how many pens I actually need and how many articles of clothing I can limit myself to without looking like a vagabond.