I recently read an article called, “The Life-Changing Magic of Making Do” that caused me to reflect on my minimalism lifestyle. Yes, I am great at decluttering. I am great at deciding what to let go and what to keep. I’m great at giving away items I no longer need. (I am also great at driving around with bags of stuff in my trunk for months before I actually get to the Goodwill but that’s for another time…)
But after reading this article I realized I am not good at “making do.” I am not great at being content with what I have right in front of me. And even as a Christian, I am often searching for the “next thing” to fill up my life with instead of being grateful for where I am now.
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The Minimalism Lifestyle & Christianity
1.) Minimalism is so much more than “getting rid of stuff.”
It’s not about someone telling you to get rid of stuff you love. It’s about getting rid of stuff that distracts you from what you really love. Or, as Joshua Becker puts it in his book, The More of Less, “Minimalism is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you.”
Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB)
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I know some people take this to mean that we should get rid of everything. But it’s not true. We should keep items that mean a lot to us! I love my family heirlooms, a stuffed bear Santa gave me when I was 5-years-old, and a piece of art my husband made me while we were dating (which I can’t imagine him making me now but again, that’s for another time.)
To me, minimalism means getting rid of our consumerist mindset that says we need the latest and greatest item out there.
When my shampoo bottle gets low I often feel the “need” to buy another in one case I run out, which usually isn’t for several more weeks. I feel the “need” to buy the latest trendy piece of clothing, which eventually fades. And when I scroll through Amazon I feel the “need” to buy a lot of things for my home. (And I mean a lot.)
We shouldn’t let objects own us. Better yet, we shouldn’t make idols out of our objects. After all, we can’t take any of them with us.
And he said to them, “Take care, be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15)
2.) The Minimalism Lifestyle Is Learning to Be Comfortable In the Void
I always feel great whenever I get rid of a bunch of stuff. Either because it’s out of my home or because I know someone else will enjoy it more. I have a bag I’m about to donate to a pregnancy center, a few clothes for my sister, and miscellaneous items for the Goodwill.
But something funny happens when the stuff is gone. I notice the empty shelf and start scrolling Amazon for a new trinket to put in its place. Empty hangers in my closet get my fingers itchy for new clothes to hang on them again. And as I great rid of ugly, mismatched mugs I start dreaming about a trip to HomeGoods to replace them with beautiful matching cups.
Whenever I get rid of a bunch of stuff I have to retrain my mind to not rush to fill the void.
If you haven’t noticed, this is difficult for me and maybe difficult for you too. We have to learn to get comfortable with space and not rush to fill it with more stuff.
But voids want to be filled so instead, I’m filling them in my mind with gratitude. I thank God for the material blessings He’s given us and how our every real need is filled.
Spiritually, this reminds me of meditation. Eastern meditation is harmful because they want you to “empty” your mind and who knows what kind of dangerous things the enemy wants to fill it with.
Christian meditation, however, is about emptying your mind of worry, negative thoughts, and shame, and filling them with God’s promises! Here is more on Christian meditation if interested in trying it out.
In Psalm 119, David declares, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.”
Fill me up with more of that, please.
3.) The Minimalism Lifestyle is Learning the Art of Making Do
Returning to the article I posted at the beginning, real life-giving minimalism is learning the art of making do. It’s not just about living in a tiny house with the bare essentials. It’s about being grateful for what we have right in front of us, contentment, and reusing or fixing what we already own instead of throwing it away and getting something new.
From the article above comes this painful truth, “If Marie Kondo delights in discarding, making do is about agonizing over it, admitting that we probably should not have bought that thing in the first place. Instead of thanking our outgoing goods for their meagre service, per Ms. Kondo, making do means admonishing ourselves for being so thoughtless in the first place. Ditching something costs us, ecologically and cosmically; it should sting. And it should teach us to think more carefully about the real value of things.”
But it doesn’t have to be so negative.
Practically speaking, I am learning to pause and pray before making new purchases. Don’t worry, I still buy things. I don’t have an Amazon Prime account for nothin’. I love books and skincare products and buy way too many of both each month. But prayer and asking these questions are helping me make better (and fewer) purchases.
- Do I need it?
- Is there something else in my home I can use instead?
- How long will it make me happy?
- Is this something I can borrow from someone else?
- What do I gain from buying this?
- Is there something else that can make me happy instead?
Here are a few examples just from this week on how I am putting this into practice.
- I wanted to buy pretty shelf liners for my kitchen but remembered I had clear ones I bought from IKEA for $2 sitting in my cabinets. So today, I am cutting those up and placing them in my cabinets instead of hitting “purchase” on Amazon.
- I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding in a few weeks and it’s been tempting to search for dresses to wear to the rehearsal dinner but I have so many dresses I’ve barely worn this year and will find an old one to wear instead.
- Lastly, my mom visited recently and she always leaves me with many lessons on fixing my items instead of getting something new. For instance, we cleaned out my vacuum with a toothbrush to give it more life.
“Making do is about taming the reflex to discard, replace or upgrade; it’s about using things well, and using them until they are used up. Taken literally, it simply means making something perform – making it do what it ought to do.”
Minimalism and Christianity
From a spiritual perspective, God not only gives us talents to use for others but gives us resources meant to take care of ourselves but bless others with as well. It’s been really convicting to me how much money I spend on myself each month and not others.
The minimalism lifestyle, specifically a Christian minimalism lifestyle, allows me to be more generous with others.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough. (1 Timothy 6:6-8)