No, I don’t have a long-lost family member named ‘Less’! However, living with a family member might be a little easier at times than truly living with less. What does that look like? I mean, we live in a society that is full of stuff, things, collectibles, books, toys, clothes, etc. You get the idea. It is much, much easier to accumulate stuff than it is to get rid of stuff.
2011 has been the year of unloading for us. The sweet, helpful man at the drop-off door of our local Goodwill can probably recall my license tag from memory. 27 bags thus far and that doesn’t include the larger items that just wouldn’t fit into a garbage bag. And the really sad fact is that we still have a long way to go. How in the world does one accumulate so much? And don’t get me wrong, we probably don’t have a lot of stuff when compared to the average American family, but we have way more stuff than we need.
So what’s the point? Why are we unloading and streamlining when it comes to stuff? I do not like chaos and clutter. I find that I am very inefficient, anxious, and irritable when I am surrounded by too much stuff. I get overwhelmed if I walk in my children’s play room when it is in complete chaos. I guess I could be called a minimalist, but I have not always been that way! God is changing my heart and in the process, my desires have changed. I would rather spend 10 minutes with someone I love instead of sorting, organizing, and finding a place for all my stuff. For me, “if it is not functional or beautiful, we don’t need it in our house”.
Now, if you were to come over and visit in our home, you will see that we still have plenty ‘o stuff. It is not that I want to sleep on an air mattress and have one plate, fork, and spoon for each person in my family. I desire to have what we need and be able to give to others who are in need. I mean, how many spoons does one need? It is all relative. We have two kids. I know a family that has 12 kids. They need more spoons than us. The last thing I want to become is legalistic and start counting my silverware!!
While things are much more tangible, stuff can also be of the emotional variety. You know what I am talking about. Those things that make so much racket in your head at night when you are trying to go to sleep. Or the thing that brings you to the verge of tears, but you won’t let yourself go there. I mean, if you do, what might happen? You might actually realize that you may want to forgive someone (maybe yourself) or that you are capable of dreaming really big dreams.
How in the world to you unload emotional stuff? Much in the same way that you unload the physical stuff. Awareness is critical. Once you are aware that something is burdening you down emotionally, you can step into that place and decide what to do with it. Maybe no further action is necessary because God just wants you to feel something instead of living in denial, or maybe you need to make a phone call or bless someone’s life by encouraging them.
If you compare this to the physical things, once you are aware that a thing or collection or that 58 pair of shoes are a little too much, then you can decide what to do with it, keep it, toss it, or donate it. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make boxes for our thoughts and emotions labeled “keep”, “toss”, and “donate”?
Well in essence we already do, without being aware of it. If we hang on to or mediate on negative thoughts then we are “keeping” them. If we live in denial that they never happened or try to avoid negative thoughts, then we are “tossing” them or denying them. If we blame other people and use others like a coat rack to model our thoughts and emotions for us, then we are “donating” them.
So what do you do? How do you unload the emotional stuff? I have found that we all need different means to help us process our emotional stuff. Some of us need to verbally process with others. Some of us need to cry a river. Some of us need to be alone with God. However, none of the above work unless you choose to step into that amazing place called awareness and allow yourself to focus on you and the emotional and mental things that prevent you from truly living with less.
Are you a “keeper”, “tosser”, or “donator”? When will you give yourself space and permission to let God’s love and grace wash over you in perfect love so that you can start living with less baggage emotionally? What’s the next best step for you to become more aware of what is preventing you from living with less?
By the way, Callie lost her first tooth this week. She is truly living with less and could not be any happier! Living with less has never been so much fun!!