Many people feel lost underneath the pressure of mounting clutter, meeting expectations, and losing their identity in the busyness of life. Simple & Soul inspires you to uncover identity in Christ and claim your freedom to be exactly who you are.
Chocolate, criticism, and clearance racks at Target.
These are some of my triggers. I’ve developed a physical and soulful simplicity in ways that I never thought I could, but there are some things that even simplicity won’t remove immediately.
Triggers are all around us. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to simplify or lose weight, not yell at the kids or chip away at your debt, at some point you’ll be face to face with a trigger of your previous, less than desirable behavior and you’ll have to choose.
A Cry for Help
These triggers, though, aren’t really triggers until we decide to change our behavior. Until then, they’re just what we do. Until I wanted to lose some weight, chocolate was a daily rescue from the stress of the day. Before I found freedom in my soul-uncovering simplicity, shame and fear fueled my self-image. And when plastic cards in my wallet meant money was accessible even if it wasn’t mine, saving money by spending money was only logical.
Simplifying my life helped me recognize these behaviors for what they were: a cry for help.
Then, my life depended on my feelings. If I was stressed, I’d eat. When I was criticized (constructively or otherwise), shame flooded. If I was sad or lonely, shopping was a loyal friend. Each time I was crying out for rescue.
What saved me and my simplicity was this: Just because I feel it, doesn’t make it true.
Before simplicity I felt unstable and out of control of my own life. I couldn’t imagine a day that didn’t feel like an attack on my soul, or that I’d ever be strong enough to fight back. I knew there had to be more to life than survival mode, but it never occurred to me that I’d find it by living with less.
A Truer Reality
A simple life doesn’t mean an easy life. Instead, simplicity is the space where clarity and stability remain constant, solitude and silence amplify our inner-wisdom, and where we divorce ourselves from the pursuit of more and live in our own freedom.
So what, then, do we do with our triggers? In a world that thrives on hacking our emotions and creating the illusion of needs in a culture of wants, how do we maintain simplicity in the unrelenting barrage of triggers?
We hack culture with a truer reality – a reality not based on feelings or circumstance, but on personal values and truth and soul-filling simplicity.
Here are five ways we overcome triggers and keep life simple:
Define your own version of simplicity
Everyone’s simplicity is unique. You get to define how much to declutter, what slow looks like in your home, and how many items your wardrobe includes. There are no rules, as long as you’re reaping the benefits of your version of simple.
A great place to start defining your simplicity is to know your why. Name what’s most important, what values drive you, and what you hope to gain by living with less. When triggers appear, holding on to your why will be crucial.
Design a life that protects your simplicity
Simple isn’t an event, it’s a lifestyle. That means we must intentionally design our home, work, schedule, and family to avoid the triggers that sabotage our simple living pursuit. This can mean avoiding “window shopping” on weekends at the mall, deleting social media apps from your phone, or canceling non-essential activities and meetings. Design the simple life you want, and then create practical boundaries to protect it.
Create a strategy when triggers are unavoidable
Living simply in a complex world inevitably requires dealing with unavoidable situations that trigger old habits. The best way to handle this is to prepare in advance. Having a strategy when you’re faced with amazing, once-in-a-lifetime sales (tip: that’s almost never true) or spending time with family who do not understand or support your simplicity efforts will prove to be a lifesaver.
Your strategy should be based on your known triggers and give you an “out” when necessary.
Seek community for support
Simplifying can be a lonely journey. Many people don’t understand how there is more life with less stuff. When we feel alone, unsure, or flat out crazy for choosing this path seeking like-minded communities is essential. Social media is a great place to find support, wisdom, and inspiration for simple living. Here are a few of my favorite Facebook pages: No Sidebar, Raising Simple, and Be More with Less.
Build strength with micro-practices
Simplicity requires daily practices that keep distraction, busyness, and clutter from overwhelming our new found space and time. Micro-practices are daily actions that keep us focused and inspired. Micro-practices include: designating a home for every possession and returning it after it’s used, sorting the mail immediately rather than letting it pile up on a desk or counter, and taking a few minutes each morning to center ourselves within our values and goals.
As we progress in our daily micro-practices, we build strength to resist triggers and refine our simplicity.
At first simple living will feel like a chase; a constant pursuit that requires full attention and awareness. But, after time, it settles into a comfortable pace and triggers are less inviting, less tempting.
Chocolate and Target are lovely occasional indulgences, but maintaining simplicity in the face of my triggers carried me home to my soul – and there is no greater rescue than finally being home.
Do you ever feel that there are forces working against your pursuit of simple? Like, the more you intend to simplify the harder life gets? I do, and it was never clearer to me than when my husband’s truck was hit by a driver running a red light on January 2.
He and the other driver are okay, but the truck is not. It’s been in the shop since and we’ve been dealing with insurance claims and chiropractor appointments and a rental car. What struck us most (pun intended), wasn’t the complicated insurance policies or the inconvenience of being a vehicle down until the rental came through – it was that the day before, New Year’s Day, we had a conversation about our hopes and ideas for 2018.
Life Happens; Simplify
As our kids traipsed through Disneyland with Grandma, we had a rare day and a half to ourselves at home. We decided to spend our New Year’s Day at the Embarcadero, one of San Diego’s tourist attractions along the picturesque harbor. It was cool, windy, and beautiful – as it is almost all year round. It’s places like this that we often find ourselves dreaming together, weaving our hopes and gifts and plans into a faith-filled tapestry of which we let go, and let the ocean wind carry it to the heavens.
2018 was prayed over, blessed, and consecrated that day. We believed the simple, intentional, and mountain-moving year just beginning to dawn would be the year we conquer goals, start new adventures, and surrender our wills to “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. We still believe it, but I’ll be honest and say that the very next morning when I got the call that my husband had been in an accident less than half a mile down the road, it felt like a big dent in our plans.
Because life happens. And we can simplify and minimize and slow down but we can’t make people stop at red lights or change family members who irritate us or stop tumors from growing. Sometimes, life gets complicated all on its own.
And we simplify still. We simplify because.
We Are Made Stronger
Minimalism makes us stronger and more equipped to handle hardship. It’s a strengthening by removal of the things that make us indecisive, distracted, and living beyond our means.
The stuff – the decluttering, donating, capsule wardrobes, and sparking joy – it’s only the beginning of a minimalist life. There’s a lot of freedom in letting go of physical possessions and creating space in your home and life, and there’s even more when simplicity becomes a way of life. It becomes about your soul.
“The soul speaks its truth only under quiet, inviting, and trustworthy conditions.” Parker J Palmer
The simple life is the condition for quiet, inviting, and trustworthy. It’s where the soul speaks.
Minimalism gives our soul room to breathe, space to rise, and a voice to the truth about who we are, what matters most, and that most of what we thought mattered doesn’t. All of the stuff – the clutter we don’t know what to do with, the activities that we can’t say no to, the constant feeding on other people’s opinions and status updates – once we get free from that, we uncover the strength to handle struggles we never thought possible.
We don’t know how much stronger we are capable of being until we stop giving our strength to unnecessary and unworthy things.
So, then, how do we create conditions that are quiet, inviting, and trustworthy for our soul? How do we become stronger in simplicity for hardships and complications?
We simplify beyond our stuff. It looks different for everyone, but here are some ways we become stronger in the simple life.
20 Ways Minimalism Will Make You Stronger
You learn to make hard decisions.
You learn to prioritize your life and set boundaries.
You define your lifestyle on your own terms, not by culture.
You uncover misguided motives.
You narrow your focus and stop wasting time.
You let go of the unnecessary, even when it’s unpopular.
You choose vulnerability because you desire presence over perfection.
You face fears of scarcity and wait for God’s provision.
You make time and space to pursue your gifting and purpose.
Your choices become intentional and practical, eliminating distraction.
You slow down and savor moments.
You invite strength by rejecting the things which steal it.
Minimalism is a refining tool making us stronger every time we accept the invitation to simplify, to choose less.
The hardships we face, the unexpected car accidents and otherwise, test our character being built up through our perseverance to choose the simple and the soul. It’s the proof of our faith in the One who is our true strength.
Just Getting Started?
Start with the Home & Soul Declutter Kit. This is a resource designed to help you declutter your home, life, and soul with purpose. Included is a plan to define why you want to simplify, a road map to declutter your home in the best way for your personality and preference, and a guided journal practice to process your pursuit of simple by examining your soul. Get this kit for FREE here!
I find it interesting how we enter in and out of seasons in life.
I’m often curious about the events or decisions which spark new journeys of the soul, where revelation and restoration occurs. When I sort through my memories I can’t help but think it was all leading to this moment. I guess it’s always that way, each season dies to birth the next of which can’t exist without the one prior. But, it feels more palpable now than ever before.
I’ve been in the trenches lately. My fingernails are dirt-filled and jagged from scratching the surface of the metaphorical walls around me. As I try to climb out, reaching for the light above I become more aware of the task before me – the work ahead to be fully vulnerable and exposed, full of faith there’s a reason for this season.
Crossing the Jordan
Maybe it’s the New Year, maybe it’s just the season I find myself currently, but I’m desperate for more clarity in my life. I’m grasping for it, thirsting for the truth within me to lead me to the pool of healing.
As I reflect on my life over the last few years I recognize the season of overwhelm, of boundaries over-extended. I notice the season of rest that followed, of little planning and less doing. Just being.
Now, I’m entering a season of obedience. A place of faith extending past the shore, wet feet and heaps of water surrounding me as I pass through. (Joshua 3)
It’s a place born of rest, nestled in the quiet space of stillness where I’m finding courage to believe everything will be okay. And enough.
You see, since the beginning of 2015 God has been shepherding me through season after season to reveal his purpose for me. And for a long time I thought that meant a certain thing – like being a writer or a creative in some way – when in reality it has been a much more important purpose, to be free to be who I already am.
And in some kind of miracle, in the dry season of that time in my life, I heard his voice calling me to follow him. To go into the unknown with him and let go of my fears and trust in who He is. He spoke promises into me. Promises of a Father to a daughter.
God never felt so fatherly to me than at that moment of his bidding to take a chance on myself.
Out of Hiding
In that process, a chance encounter with minimalism began a journey of pursuit that has carried me deeper and wider into the freedom God always held for me. Simplicity revealed the raw and untouched parts of my soul and uncovered who I truly am. It gave me permission to put off the old self of comparison, co-dependence, self-hatred, and keeping up with a culture that was never meant to satisfy.
I peeled back the layers of expectations for new clothes to provide confidence.
I laid aside the ‘just in case’ boxes so I could abide in the provision of God.
I removed the extras and duplicates and unnecessary that laid around the house in search of space and room to roam.
My fears of scarcity transformed into prayers of gratitude for enough.
I found my voice in waves of freedom with each material thing I shed and every agreement made with “more” was broken. Every step into simplicity diluted the desire to prove myself worthy of the world’s attention, affection, and approval.
Simple gave me back my soul.
It’s not been without cost. Simple is not the same as easy. In fact, simplicity has forced me to endure some of the most difficult paths in my life, paths I never thought I’d have to travel. But I’ve learned it’s on these paths of the unexpected trials that simplicity is an unexpected grace.
The grace of space, silence, stillness is where our hearts return to the Father. It’s the mercy of walking down the prodigal road to an Abba Father running toward us, ring and robe in hand.
The Grace of Space
Once in a while a reader will email asking about the correlation between less stuff and more time. It’s often a mysterious grace, because we rarely appreciate the amount of time we invest in owning things. The grace of space restores the moments most precious, like doing puzzles with your kids or noticing the colors of the sunset or preparing a meal for a hurting friend.
We often can’t quantify the time we spend to clean, maintain, organize, and present the things we surround ourselves with. We’ve settled into the routine of it all, busying ourselves with housework or spring cleaning as though it’s just the way life is. This is what being a grown-up is – responsible ownership of things we don’t need, but paid good money for.
My relentless pursuit of simplicity began here, in the grace of space. The first area I tackled with minimalist zeal was a small corner of the master bedroom where I sit at a cheap IKEA table to write words like these. It was the first taste of God’s grace in space. He met me there, where I purposefully removed distraction, and told He me this is where He always was – not at the IKEA table, but in the space I create in life, in my home, and especially in my soul.
From that small space I purged the whole house, with the help of my family, and rallied on until simplicity wasn’t a matter of stuff, but of the soul. I simplified my time, built healthy boundaries, let go of expectations, and found myself exactly where I had buried her years ago.
Leap Into Faith
I recently heard of the Kierkegaard saying “leap into faith”, and as the words settled in I realized this is what minimalism does for me. Living simple is a leap into faith, every day and every decision. It’s a declaration of identity, I don’t need any thing to define my worth; I have nothing to prove.
Simplicity is an invitation to a new season of faith, a reawakening to who you are, and a grace in the spaces uncovered.
As I fight for clarity in my current season, I consider this great gift of simplicity as a grace most extravagant. It’s all I need, He is all I need. And in the grace of space I find Him and I find me.
Are you longing for more clarity and depth in your simplicity and faith? Have your insecurities overwhelmed your identity and purpose? My course, Soul Deep Simplicity, is designed to walk you though three areas that our soul loses in the cluttered life: vulnerability, confidence, and identity. You will uncover the courage to not be perfect, to pursue your purpose, and live in the freedom to be who you already are. I invite you to get your feet wet, leap into faith, and shine. Learn more about Soul Deep Simplicity here.
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, except for a mother stuffing stockings with individually wrapped rolls of Lifesavers, entrenched in subtly rising gift guilt that it still wasn’t enough.
On Christmas Eve as children, my sister and I would restlessly sleep in our grandmother’s guest bedroom, sharing the large bed, waiting for signs of the breaking dawn to give us permission to leave the room.
We’d quietly tip toe down the hall in anxious anticipation of that first sight of a filled stocking and one or two unwrapped gifts left by Santa. By the time our parents and grandmother were pouring their coffees the stockings laid bare on the floor and their contents strewn about.
Then we waited.
“Okay, then, who is Santa this year?” Mom or Dad would ask, and one of us would put on the official family Santa hat to pass out all the presents from under the tree. I have lots of memories of being Santa on Christmas morning, feeling a mix of joy to hand each person I loved their gifts and prolonging the excitement of the pile of wrapped up packages begging me to be opened.
Once all gifts were opened, thoroughly examined and tried-on and the occasional mis-labeled gift handed to it’s rightful recipient we’d politely thank our parents for all the things at our feet. We’d gather up the obliterated wrapping paper bits, and then hug our parents with a quick Thank You on our way to compare the year’s Christmas haul.
Then I’d hear it, every year, on the wake of my gratitude the phrase I’m tempted to repeat, but intentionally avoid around my kids.
I know now, as an adult and a parent, that behind the savoring of each smiling face of our children on Christmas morning is often a kettle brewing with guilt. Our utterly indescribable love and desire for our children as we watch their wonder come to life on Christmas can lead us to pangs of ‘not enough’. It’s the kind of love that desires, even if we know better, to give our kids everything they could ever want just to see them glow in the magic before them.
And maybe the gift guilt is born there, in that inner place where we long for endless Christmas mornings. Can any parent ever get enough of it? So, when I travel back in my mind to Christmas mornings of my childhood, the phrase, “I wish we could do more,” whispers of longing for the magic to never end – and guilt that they couldn’t do more.
We live in a time where our identities and purpose are defined by ‘more’. How much more can I get? How much more until I’m happy? Why do they have more than me?
When I heard the phrase ‘I wish we could do more’ , what I really heard was, ‘you don’t have enough’.
We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but I never went without. I never lacked anything. And I knew my parents sacrificed a lot in order to give my sister and me the Christmas morning we dreamed of all year. Their guilt of not having more to give left me wondering what I didn’t get. What was the ‘more’ that could have been but wasn’t? How much more were my friends getting that I wasn’t?
Why ‘more’ isn’t a gift
With my own kids anxiously anticipating the wonder of Christmas morning I’m aware of how precious cultivating gratitude is during the holidays.
The illusion of more that I held onto for most of my life robbed me of a spirit of gratitude, because enough was never enough. And so, two and half years into simplifying my life and reshaping the kind of ‘more’ I desire, I’m careful to present gifts to my children with the openhanded generosity that comes from a grateful heart.
More toys, clothes, electronics, and other gifts only serve as distractions for what I wish to give more of; like gifts of time, appreciation, instruction, laughter, snuggles, experiences, love, faith, and gratitude.
More of what we really need
My parents truly wished they could give us more, as all parents do. Their hearts overflowed where their bank account didn’t and that’s what really mattered to us. But, even though I know our love and time are the most important gifts we can offer our children, this time of year seems to pit what I know and what I have (or give) against one another. Gift guilt nestles in.
Instead of saying ‘I wish we could do more,’ to my kids or family this year, I’m practicing new phrases to remind myself of what I value most from Christmas and the wonder of the season. And if you’re starting to feel the holiday gift guilt, I hope these phrases will help you practice more of what you really need: grace and gratitude.
Avoid Holiday Gift Guilt With 3 Helpful Phrases
“This gift is enough, and so am I.”
“Love is measured by presence, not presents.”
“Jesus came with nothing, to give us everything. You can’t out-give that.”
So, while there are many family traditions I’m passing on to my kids, the ‘I wish we could do more’ phrase isn’t one of them. Instead, I’m be content with what I can give this year because I’m confident that what we all need more of isn’t found underneath the Christmas tree.
Are you longing for Christmas season of peace and joy?
The holidays are as wonderful as they are stressful and often we miss the meaning behind the traditions because the looming expectations of perfection or tense family gatherings rob us of the wonder of Advent. That’s why I created Soul Prep for the Holidays, an E-book to prepare your soul for the season. It’s FREE, so grab your copy HERE.
We recently purchased a new (used) vehicle for our family of four. It was time, our previous hand-me-down car was on its last breath and served us well over the few years we drove it.
In the time since we received a free car from a very generous family member we have become minimalists, so the process of purchasing this new-to-us car was different than previous times we’ve made such a large investment. It felt rather unglamorous and practical, a stark difference from the time we bought a brand new, off the lot car several years ago – when purchasing something new and big and conspicuous was an adrenal shot to our self-worth.
“Are you sure this is what you want?” my husband asked me several times. Not because it’s not a great car at a great price, but because it all seemed too… practical. We were excited, of course, to have a reliable car made in this decade, but we were also very aware of what and why we were buying.
Maybe we are just growing up; finally mature to make adult-like decisions with a cool and calm countenance. Or, perhaps we found something we didn’t have before.
You see, we knew this time we weren’t buying a false sense of confidence. We weren’t exchanging financial stability for a quick rush of adding a new thing to our lives. We were content with what we had, and we are now content with what we were replacing it with.
One of my favorite quotes on minimalism is from Brian Gardner, “Being a minimalist means you value yourself more than material things.” In all the ways I’ve changed since adopting this minimalist lifestyle, buying a car was the biggest test of what I value more – myself or my stuff.
I started thinking about other ways I’ve found more contentment in making my life less flashy, less “look at this thing I have”, and less about the value of things. In making this list I realized how much I used to trade for outward glory, when everything I truly desired was waiting for me in the unglamorous practicality of minimalism.
Contentment in the Significant Purchases
Like purchasing our new-to-us car, other prospective large purchases are less thrilling for thrills sake, which means we get more use out of what we already own and either save money by not purchasing, or we purchase only within our means and needs.
We nurture a spirit of gratitude, the place where contentment is born.
Contentment in the Insignificant Purchases
Even the small things that seem to carry little weight can impact our level of contentment. Minimalism revealed significant emotional imbalances through the insignificant things I spent money and time on. New clothes and shoes were quick self-esteem boosters, and social media was a quick dip in the pool of self pity.
I unwittingly purchased discontentment with small amounts of money and time that always added up to more than they were worth.
Contentment in the Routines
My husband is a Type A personality. He is organized, well-prepared, and studious. He makes lists and can’t sleep till all items are checked off. His tomorrow is planned today and his achievements and degrees and qualifications attest to his focus and determination.
I am not any of those things, naturally. But minimalism is changing that.
I tend to leave a trail of shoes around the house, read four books simultaneously, never actually finish making the to do list, never check off any thing on that list, and write notes on any available piece of paper and scourer the house in search of that really great quote I read the other day.
God bless my husband.
When we took on this minimalist life I quickly discovered that it required a new kind of intentionality. Routines weren’t prisons for free spirits like me; routines are boundaries that lead to freedom.
Contentment in Parenting
I struggle with maintaining minimalist principles with my kids, because I want my kids to have everything they want. I want them to be happy more than anything in the world. But happy is what life is about when you value things over yourself (or others).
What I really want for my kids is a lasting contentment and true sense of identity. I couldn’t find either of those when my goal was to be merely happy. Happiness is temporal, contentment is eternal.
My kids have toys and fun things which they enjoy, but I’m no longer seeking to fulfill their yearlong Christmas wish list.
Their toys may be less glamorous and fewer than their friends’, but I’m more concerned about their hearts of generosity, gratitude, and deep knowing of their inherent worth apart from their things.
Also, my contentment abounds when there was less to pick up, step on, and fight over.
Contentment in Identity
We all dream for glory. We desire to be significant, to influence the lives around us, and make our mark on the world. You might not wish to be the next Elon Musk or Beyonce but, I believe, each of us in our community of family and friends desires to know we matter.
That desire might be the reason life has gotten more complicated. A lack of security in our identity may lead us to seek worth in things we buy or do, and our perceived glory is a house of cards. Minimalism unravels those beliefs and weaves truth into the way we see ourselves. If you have the courage to remove your value from the external and restore the value of the internal you don’t need a glamorous life for others to look at. Your identity doesn’t need the help of stuff to shine; it shines brightest on its own.
As we approached the purchase of our car I knew I didn’t need anything more than what we could afford and what worked for my family. My glory doesn’t come from a fancy, oversized, fully equipped ride. Minimalism taught me how to know what I want, where my worth comes from, and that my contentment is found in the simplicity of an unglamorous and practical life.
Take Your Minimalism Deeper
Minimalism isn’t about your stuff; it’s about your soul. If you are seeking a more fulfilled life, one in alignment with your identity, values, and purpose the Soul Deep Simplicity course is your guide. With a life and home buried under excess stuff, external expectations, and crippling comparisons we lose confidence in our identity. Soul Deep Simplicity is the undoing of that life, and a reawakening of who you are meant to be. Click here to learn more!
“Is Thanksgiving before Christmas so we remember to be thankful for all the things before we open presents?” my almost six year old asked.
Me, driving out of the gas station parking lot, lost in thought, “Um. Yes?”
“Yes?” she asked me confused, noting my answer in question form. Blindsided by her philosophical softball, I once again sat in wonder at the depth of my kindergartner’s soul.
Giving thanks before receiving, or as Ann Voskamp put it, “Eucharisteo – thanksgiving – always preceeds the miracle.” Yes, thanksgiving before we receive is always the answer!
Being grateful ushers our hearts into a season of proclaiming the arrival of Emmanuel. It’s gratitude that prepares us for the gift. Thanksgiving precedes the miraculous birth of the Savior.
I finally found the words to answer my daughter, “That’s exactly right. We celebrate in thanksgiving before we receive the gift.”
This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to be thankful for what you have and for what you don’t have yet. Risk your gratitude on the goodness of God. He’s faithful to provide.
To encourage your season of gratitude, here are 25 Scriptures on giving thanks. And don’t limit these to November – they are just as powerful every day of the year!
*I created an awesome gratitude resource for you called Daily Gratitude: Peace, Presence, Purpose. Grab your free worksheet at the bottom of this post!
25 Thanksgiving Scriptures for Every Day of The Year
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever. Psalm 136:26 (AMP)
Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (CEB)
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. John 6:11 (NLT)
The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts him. I was helped, my heart rejoiced, and I thank him with my song. Psalm 28:7 (CEB)
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. Revelation 11:17 (ESV)
And here we are, O God, our God, giving thanks to you, praising your splendid Name. 1 Chronicles 29:13 (MSG)
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 (ESV)
Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught. Col. 2:7 (CEB)
You will be abundantly enriched in every way as you give generously on every occasion, for when we take your gifts to those in need, it causes many to give thanks to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11 (Passion Translation)
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:28-29 (NIV)
This is God’s work. We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it! This is the very day God acted— let’s celebrate and be festive! Salvation now, God. Salvation now! Oh yes, God—a free and full life! Psalm 118:24 (MSG)
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Col. 3:16
But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23 (NLT)
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. John 11:41 (NIV)
Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever. Psalm 118:1
So we no longer offer up a steady stream of blood sacrifices, but through Jesus, we will offer up to God a steady stream of praise sacrifices—these are “the lambs” we offer from our lips that celebrate his name! Hebrews 13:15 (Passion Translation)
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.. Psalm 107:8 (NIV)
The Lord will comfort Israel again
and have pity on her ruins.
Her desert will blossom like Eden,
her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found there.
Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air. Isaiah 51:3 (NLT)
From them will come songs of thanksgiving
and the sound of rejoicing.
I will add to their numbers,
and they will not be decreased;
I will bring them honor,
and they will not be disdained. Jeremiah 30:19 (NIV)
But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 (NLT)
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. Mark 14:23 (NLT)
Coming up to them at that very moment, she [Anna, the prophetess] gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:38 (NIV)
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed. Rom 6:17 (ESV)
But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! 1 Corinthians 15:57 (MSG)
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This is the paradox of minimalism – it’s a practice of the smaller exterior life to experience a bigger inner life.
The bigger inner life of minimalism is based on the principle of removing clutter from our homes and minds, trimming our schedules for priorities and passions, and designing a simple life full of gratitude and experience rather than accumulation of things.
And as I consider this paradox, specifically the bigger inner life aspect, I wonder – so then what? After the clutter is gone and we enjoy regular white space and freedom in the new boundaries of simple living, what and who is it all for?
Is there an even greater purpose to minimalism than personal liberty from stuff and stress?
More Than It Seems
Sometimes, I look at the claims of minimalism’s benefits and it seems uncomfortably self-focused. I see, “get rid of stuff you don’t love, do only what you desire, pursue your passions and creating more time for yourself”, etc. and I begin to squirm.
Is it all about my desires, my time, my personal comfort?
I hear myself explaining to friends or family why I pursue a simpler life and to my own ears it sounds self-centered – the clear counters give me peace, I don’t have as many toys to pick up, I have less decision fatigue in the mornings. Look at how great I feel, look how I’ve changed, come see how I do it…
I worry they may mistake my enthusiasm and legitimate benefits of simplicity for arrogance.
But, I notice within this bigger inner life that with less stuff, more time, and deeper soul I desire more from it. To do more with it, and allow minimalism not to become only a personal journey of freedom. Maybe, my minimalism has a greater purpose beyond myself.
What benefit is there internally if it doesn’t transform us externally as well? And not just us, but transform the people we live with, care about, and share community with. The more I consider my own minimalism, I realize if I contain it to my individual experience without allowing it to flow through and out of me for a greater purpose, then the benefits are actually quite small.
The Greater Purpose of Minimalism
Initially minimalism is about self. It’s decluttering and harnessing the small, consistent mindsets shifts and habit reformation. It’s deep soul care, filtering the truth from lifelong beliefs and behaviors. We simplify to capture our worth in a world set against us activating the power within our worthiness.
At some point on our personal journeys we arrive at a crossroads where we are no longer on a singular path, and opportunity arises for the more of less to manifest. With the opportunity to use our free time, resources, or talents for the service of others our minimalism becomes more than a personal lifestyle. It becomes a tool for generosity. It now serves a greater purpose.
I’ve heard it a thousand times; you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. So, minimalism must do it’s work on me first to usher me into freedom from stuff, comparison, and distraction. After which, it can flow through and out of me with a generous spirit to fulfill it’s greater purpose.
3 Ways to Purpose Your Minimalism Beyond Yourself
Own less to give more
Joshua Becker said, ‘Don’t just de-clutter; de-own.” We probably underestimate the cost of owning. Just because it’s paid for doesn’t mean you’re not still paying a price.
When we decide to de-own we create an opportunity to give it away to someone in need, the excess time we gain can be used to serve, and the peace of mind at home may create opportunities for hospitality or provide the rest you need to serve later.
Want less to be more
Henry David Thoreau said, “I make myself rich by making my wants few.”
In a generation of availability and accessibility it’s difficult to disarm our ‘wanter’. If you want it, you can get it, and delivered on your doorstep within two days, without ever leaving your house or putting on pants.
Soon, we become buried in things we once wanted, but never needed and no longer like or use. We spent our money and our peace, and lost our soul underneath it all.
The soul of minimalism is choosing to be rich in spirit, to want more purpose than possessions. To be more than have more.
Busyness has become a badge of honor. We’ve all said and heard, “I’m just so busy”, and we go to bed exhausted and wondering what it was we did all day.
Slow down, say no, don’t do it all. “Discern the vital few from the trivial many.” (Greg McKeown)
Like, serving a sick friend, reading to children, or using a talent or gift to encourage someone. Or even rest for yourself.
Simplicity designs white space to create magic – that spark of creativity or opportunity for a generous outpouring to help another.
The unexpected nature of minimalism offers an abundant life; one that leads us to pursue greater things for ourselves and for others. As Glennon Doyle once said, “Once we’ve been given freedom, we pass the baton.”
A Great Place to Start
The greater purpose of your minimalism is greatly needed. There are millions of children in need of shelter, food, and clothing all around the world. This month, I am running a campaign through Compassion International to raise $2500 for earthquake victims in Ecuador. Click HERE to go to the Act for Compassion campaign page and learn how you can be a part of this greater purpose. Join me in passing the baton.
Have you ever said this phrase, “I just don’t feel like myself anymore”?
Maybe you aren’t quite sure why or what the gradual change had been, but you remember a simpler time when you were more carefree and adventurous. Or, perhaps it’s not that you noticed a shift of any kind, but rather that you’ve always felt like there was more to you that you could never access. Deep down, you know there is a deeper purpose, more joy, or greater talent that haunts you but you don’t know how to tap into it.
What do you do with that? Unfortunately, most people tend to bury it. They stuff that longing for more every day as they trudge through their career unfulfilled, attend all the activities they are “supposed” to attend half-heartedly, and complain about taxes or politics or their own busyness as an excuse for feeling defeated.
In my own life, I buried my dream of being a writer under all kinds of excuses and addictions. I’d say that I used to write because I was unhappy then and needed the emotional outlet that writing provided (implying I was presently happy and no longer needed to write). Then when I felt that soul longing for some way to express myself in a unique way, I’d find ways to drown out the calling with shopping, food, distraction with TV or some good ole fashioned self-reproach.
For twelve years I didn’t feel like myself and I claimed to be searching for her every time I tried something new to fill the ever growing hole in my life, but it was only adding to the clutter in my life. I created a life that allowed me to hide the very thing I was looking for.
After all, that feels like the safest thing to do; create a life that works, rather than one that lasts. We are responsible for so much in our daily lives that we crave practical solutions to ease the present strain of life. Dreams, gifts, and passions that arise from our hearts don’t seem to fit in the practical, streamlined plan for our family, finances, or—ironically—our faith.
A few months ago I unpacked all of my kids’ baby stuff, sorted it with teary eyes and gratitude, set aside a few precious and unique items, and repacked the rest to donate. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made since adopting a life of simplicity, simply because I’d made the decision more than five years ago that the baby stuff would stay. Forever. Period.
That was before we committed to living simply when sentimentality proved the existence of the meaningful. We fought for five years through infertility and a failed adoption, so when God gave us our first miracle pregnancy I wasn’t letting go of any part of that season.
It made sense, for a while. When you experience the healing touch of Jesus and life is created where they said it wouldn’t you hold tight to the tangible because it feels like your heart won’t be able to contain the intangible. Then, when the second of our beautiful miracles babies arrived two years later and all the stuff doubled, it started to feel heavy – like maybe what my heart holds in its ever expanding hands is enough after all.
The Deeper Meaning of Minimalism
Minimalism questions everything, even the stuff we’ve sworn not to let it get to. I tried to ignore the stacks of bins in the garage but after we’d decluttered the rest of our house and found out what minimalism is really about, I had to question the purpose of keeping it all. After all, my girls were toddlers by this point, different now but still the same flesh and bone miracles – what stuff can compare to their laughter, kisses, and wonder?
I’d suspected early on in the clearing out the physical, mental, and emotional clutter that there was something much deeper, spiritual even, happening through minimalism. It wasn’t just a freedom to do what I loved or have more money in the bank, it was reaching farther within me. It was grasping for more intention, more awareness, and more soul.
It was as if with each item I let go of a piece of myself came back to me. With every opportunity I took to choose less I gained a long forgotten dream. Every time I fought the lies in my head with truth about who I am and what my stuff was, I became more fully alive. Minimalism wasn’t only questioning, it was answering more self-doubts and frustrations in my life than I expected.
A Spiritual Awakening
Simplicity became spiritual when I realized that my soul had been buried under validation-seeking behaviors, such as, impulse shopping, comparison-making, self-reproach and self-doubt, and perfectionism. Simplicity set my soul free.
I started thinking in a new category at that point: minimalism is a spiritual act of worship.
Let me be clear about one thing, minimalism cannot replace the restoration, healing, and salvation of Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of the world, the redeemer of our souls, and He alone is our hope for eternity. Minimalism is simply a tool with which we can come into union with Jesus, worship Him through our acts of doing without or choosing less, and it’s a means to connect with the unique gifts and purpose He has created within us.
Minimalism is a spiritual act of worship when we make Him the reason and we seek freedom, identity and purpose in His name. I believe that minimalism isn’t about our stuff, it’s about our soul. If you’re wondering what simplicity has to do with your spiritual acts of worship , here are a few ideas to consider:
7 Powerful Truths that Engage Your Soul in Minimalism
Where your treasure is, so is your heart.
When I was holding on to the baby stuff as validation of God’s faithfulness, a part of my heart was occupied – unavailable to be filled up with the blessings of everyday miracles with my kids.
My treasure was in the stuff, not in the God who gave me the kids who no longer needed the stuff. I let it go, and my heart could return to its first love.
What profit is there to gain the whole world and forfeit your soul?
A life spent chasing the status and the stuff will always leave the soul behind, because our soul wasn’t created for that. It was created to give, not to get.
Do not be conformed to this world.
The world is set against the fully-alive soul. It’s enticing us to conform to its standards, expectations, and definition of beauty and success. Minimalism allows us to define our own lives, live in our true identity even if it’s not what the world wants. We are no longer controlled by social media or fashion trends, and we hang on to the truth that we are created in the image of I AM.
It is more blessed to give than receive.
Minimalism creates room and resources for more generosity.
We brought nothing into this world, and we take nothing of it.
Honestly, I don’t think there is a clearer way to put it.
Who can add a single hour to his life by worrying?
A lot of us get trapped underneath the weight of all our stuff because we worry that we may need it, that we might hurt someone’s feelings, or that the meaning we’ve attached to the stuff will disappear if it’s gone.
Or we worry that we aren’t good enough, so we shop or compare or shut ourselves down in relationships. We lose our identity in our worry and in the end it’s all for nothing. We add nothing to our life by worrying, or by the actions we take from a worried heart.
Be content in all circumstances
I believe that true contentment in this life is increasingly hard to come by. With all the striving to keep up and our soul aching for attention how can we ever feel content, in the good times and especially in the bad?
We find contentment in the simple things. We recognize what we have is enough, grounded in gratitude, and embracing it all as grace.
As I packed up the baby clothes for donation I felt in my heart that this wasn’t going to be a regular Good Will drop. Indeed, they were just clothes, toys, and teeny tiny shoes but I wanted to honor what those things meant to me. But I didn’t know what I’d do with them.
And as if God was offering me a gift in this difficult minimalism moment, a church friend who was soon due to give birth to her fourth child, her first girl, reached out that she needed girls clothing. And my heart leapt knowing that these items wouldn’t end up in a random bin of clothing, but be used by a loving family and growing girl. I knew my simplicity wasn’t just about making life easier; it was the tool God was using to free my soul as much as garage space.
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