Sunday, November 25, 2007

Simplicity as a Discipline

I seem to cram my closets and cabinets full of stuff. I feel like I am hiding all my junk, but it doesn't help. It may be out of sight, but it is not out of my mind. Sometimes i run out of storage because we live in a small one bedroom apartment, and it even starts to pile up temporarily outside the cabinets. When ever I pass by that pile of clutter my energy seems to drop a little.

For a while now I have been trying to simplify my life by de-cluttering my apartment. For the past few months I have constantly been making piles of stuff to get rid of. Sometimes I wonder...where did all of this come from? But I have recently realized that de-cluttering really is only a small part of simplifying. "The christian discipline of simplifying is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style."-Richard Foster. I began to search inwardly and realized that it all comes down to putting God at the center of my life. When we lack keeping Him the center our need for security leads us to an attachment to things. We live in such a consumer society filled with commercial bombardment. What is genuinely important to you? I have found that spending time each day to evaluate what I treasure really helps me keep things in perspective. When keeping Him as my first priority everything necessary will come in its proper order. No worries.

Where your treasure is, there your heart be also."-Matthew 6:21

Inwardly I started appreciating everything that God has given me. I continued trusting that he will protect me. It takes away my worries and anxiety. Being simple-hearted is that we are purposeful in everything we do, say, and think. Wow, that is something to strive toward; discarding whatever busyness or possession that keeps us from focusing on God. We should try to share our possessions rather than cling to them. It can be hard because we fear that we may need them someday, but what about all those extra clothes in our closets that we have not worn in months? Why not give it to someone that could use it every month?

After pursuing simplicity as a discipline internally I have started to challenge myself to taking it to the next level as an outward expressio
n. These are the steps I am challenging myself with to live a more outwardly simple life:

---Buy things for their usefulness; not their status. Will I really use it? Or is it just something I want because everyone has it and it will make me look better? We all want the new cool gadgets; the upgrade with all the cool new features. Sometimes it can help us out, but keep in mind all the energy these things drain. The United States has less than 6% of the world's population, but consumes about 33% of the world's energy. wow. That is something to think about.

---Start giving things away.(Less is More) Cleaning professionals say that de-cluttering your home would eliminate 40% of housework. I totally believe that! Masses of things that are not needed just seem to complicate life. De-cluttering can give you a better mental clarity and even improve your memory.

-Talk simply."Let what you say simply 'Yes' or 'No';anything more than that comes from evil."-Matthew 5:37. Avoid flattery and half truths. "Simplicity of language teaches us to be who we are and leave it at that."-Jan Johnson.
Have you ever tried to talk out a problem to someone, and you discovered that the more you talked the worse things got? I do that way too much. We feel we need to defend ourselves so we keep talking just so we dont look stupid. We need to be honest with ourselves and keep our words simple. God's opinion is what counts.

---Reject anything that produces an addiction, and learn what is a real need. Simplicity is freedom, not slavery. Refuse to be a slave to anything but God. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God. It is so easy to lose focus.

God speaks to us each very differently about what disciplines of simplicity we need. Whether we need to clear clutter, cut out negative relationships, start living within our means, etc. I am not an expert by any means but I have really found a lot of joy through this. I have learned that it is not going to happen over night. Simplifying is not easy and definately takes a lot of discipline.
May God give us the courage to live simply.

Here are some questions I have asked myself...
-How much time and energy do I waste on the unnecessary?
-How much time do I waste because I can not find things?
-How much energy do I waste on telling myself all the
things I should be doing?

Ways to start simplifying:

-minimize your distractions.
-pack bag/lunch the night before so the morning is less frantic.
-learn to say "no," we can't do everything.
-Discover that
"the earth is the Lord's fullness..."-Psalm 24:1. Take a moment each day to enjoy what is around you.
-turn off the TV, be aware of what is going on around you
-spend time in solitude; reflecting and taking a deep breath.
-cut back on debt;consolidate your accounts into one and pay it off!
-take a moment each day to be grateful for what you have.
-make one goal for the day and stick too it, rather than doing to much that you can not get anything done to its full potential.
-cut back on activities.
-take care of yourself, eat food that will give you energy, and excersise your body to reduce stress and clear your mind.
-make a place to put your mail when you come in the door, otherwise it just goes on the counter and adds to your clutter. The average American receives 49,060 pieces of mail in their lifetime and one third is junk mail. wow, get rid of it right away!

-try buying only what you can afford and not what you think you need.
-go through your closets and decide what to keep, what to sell, what to give away, and what to donate. Know why you are keeping stuff around.(get rid of it the same day so it does not sit around) Stuff does not make you who you are.--say a prayer before you begin;it helps!

"God made man simple;man's complex problems are of his own devising."
-Eccles. 7:29


AIMEE said...

LOVE this post! It's so true that simplicity begins in the heart...with a heart/priority shift and is then manifested by our actions. Cluttered hearts are much more draining than a cluttered home!
Enjoying your new blog!

Marianna said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for stopping by my blog and welcome to the land of blogging. I'll be back to visit you!


Jess said...

I agree...simplicity is hard to start, but so worth it.

Hope everything is going well! Miss you!

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