A Preamble to Living Simply

by Josée

North Americans are very materialistic. But, more stuff isn’t making us much happier (American Psychological Association). Maybe it’s because acquiring stuff takes time; time that we could be spending nurturing relationships or participating in peace and joy-filled activities. Or, perhaps we have an unhealthy attachment to stuff and fall for its empty promises to make us happy.

When I think of materialism, the story of Jesus and the rich man come to mind. “As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him […] you know the commandments […] he replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Mark 10:17-22). As I reflect on this story, I wonder how many times I have walked away from God and from being the best version of myself because of my many possessions.

Christ and The Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann

Other than making us less happy, another big problem with stuff is that it takes up space in our homes. Before long, drawers and closets don’t close and navigating the storage room requires mountaineering equipment. We can’t find the stuff we need, or forgot we even had it, and buy more stuff to replace whatever was lost in our home.

When Hubby and I married I was very excited and eager to set up house. I had a trouseau full of odds and ends that I accumulated for a few years before getting married. When we moved into our first home I had an insatiable urge to fill in every empty space with something. Now that we have two little ones, finding empty space has become somewhat of a challenge. Over the last couple years I have been trying to get rid of stuff. I find that when we have less we have more. We have more space to play, more time to be with each other and more creativity. I feel less stressed by keeping everything in order because there is less to keep in order!

But stuff keeps on piling up. Granted I do like thrift stores, garage sales and books – those are my weaknesses! After six years of marriage and two children, we’ve got a lot. I ask myself do we need all this stuff? No, we would be just as happy (if not happier) with much less. And so, my friend Elisa over at Elisa Loves and I decided that it was time to reduce clutter in our homes. We’re going to be charitably challenging each other to take a serious, if not radical, look at what takes up space in our home and to pare down.

Every Tuesday we are going to announce the room we’re working on during the week. We will, shamelessly, show you our before pictures. We will figure out our goals for the area and why what we have isn’t working. Everything in each room will need to pass a stringent test in order to stay. It has to have a purpose, be useful, well made, beautiful (to our eyes), healthy (non-toxic), and used within the last year. We also want your input! We want you to give us your two cents about what would make the room better. We also want you to join us. The following Tuesday we will show you our after pictures and what we like about the “new” area and what we did with the old things. We will want you to share your before and afters in the comments of this or Elisa’s blog.

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