Yesterday I did my bi-annual closet strip. A rather strange ritual since my closet is the size of a hobbit’s. I don’t fancy shopping unless, of course, it’s for The Ladybug. In my younger days I felt compelled to keep up with trends, but now that I’m in my fifties, my clothes qualify as retro/vintage-which is great since I buy most at Goodwill or recycle shops. I wear them for a season, then wash and return the lot so that someone else can enjoy them, too. The mainstays of my closet are things with sentimental value like the black floral dress Mama sent to New Zealand for my 40th birthday. When I put it on all these years later, I still remember how special it was to receive that beautiful dress in the mail. I look forward to sliding into my army khakis each spring. 1999. VINTAGE indeed.
May I recommend a book by Jen Hatmaker? If you lean to the excessive, it may put perspective on what you need & what you don’t. If you lean to the lean, it will help to reinforce a decision to simplify.
By my thirties, I considered myself non materialistic despite a large home, Suburban, dogs, cats, bunnies, fish, pool, two refrigerators & extra freezer. Running shoes, walking shoes, open toe sandals, closed toe sandals, flat flip flops, wedged heel flip flops, 3″ heels, 5″ heels, black boots, brown boots, cowboy boots, snow boots, light jackets, heavy coats, vests, sweaters, pencil skirts, peasant skirts, church dresses, casual dresses, 3/4 sleeve blouses, long sleeved blouses, scoop neck tees, round neck tees, v neck tees, stonewashed jeans, black jeans, mom jeans, sexy jeans, colored hair shampoo, swimmers’ shampoo, everyday shampoo, wake up facial wash, bedtime calming cleanser, nighttime moisturizer, daytime sunscreen, am eye cream, pm eye gel, heavy foundation, light foundation, pink powder blush, coral gel blush, lipgloss, lipstick, lipbalm, lipstain. Shall I itemize every nook & cranny? Non materialistic alright.
THEN the CALL came to MOVE to the OTHER SIDE of the WORLD.
New Zealand certainly isn’t a poor country, but according to the standards I was accustomed to, stuff was sparse. People rarely used clothes dryers-why pay for something the SUN & a washing line did free? 2 refrigerators? Ha! We searched to find one taller & wider than me. We couldn’t store enough food for more than a few days in these over-sized coolers, how we’d survive the apocalypse was troubling. *wink* ONE car per family? Ya kidding? Back home, the hubby had a truck, me an SUV, kids had their wheels. It wasn’t a luxury; our hectic lifestyle demanded everyone have their own transportation. But, only rich kids got new ones, regular folks could only afford used.
House hunting. A three bedroom house & 1 bath? Is this a joke? Setting up the house. 6 cabinets in an entire kitchen? Closets? YES! I am SO excited about the DOUBLE Barbie townhouse closet in the master bedroom. Mail is delivered to the letterbox at the house, but I must take a single piece of mail to the local post shop to send? But, we only have one car over here. No worries, the bus stop’s around the corner. Me? Ride a bus? UGH! We aren’t poor! I was so FULL of myself; it’s a wonder I made any friends at all. I had MUCH to learn about being materialistically minded.
So, I began my journey to minimalism out of necessity when we rented our first home. It was a lovely cottage overlooking a pasture. We had lemon trees & mandarin orange trees outside-but no dishwasher inside. I didn’t buy everyday dishes and Sunday dishes but we were troopers & somehow suffered through it now that we were roughing it.
In Jen’s book I found a defining confession-Getting rid of clutter is an amazing way to simplify, but how pious was I to be so incredibly proud of myself for being so “sacrificial”? That was me. I relished the attention from friends and family when I moaned about the conditions we were having to adapt to. I welcomed the praises about all I was giving up in order to serve the LORD. *sigh*
I’m ashamed that I was so spiritually immature to believe-I deserved credit for washing dishes & using the same glasses to drink out of on Sunday that we did on Tuesday. As if having to wait an extra 5 minutes to brush my teeth was something to merit a high five for enduring. I was embarrassed to be seen getting on the bus or hanging out clothes. I was materialistic; I’d just been too wrapped up in my stuff to realize it. I’d been filled with pride about what I had, what I drove, what I wore and what I gave.
Giving something to someone because I no longer WANT it-is hardly a sacrificial offering so why do we think that? I’ve confessed so many of my faults, it’s easier to spill my guts than it used to be. Prior to moving to New Zealand, money wasn’t as tight as it had been. After ten years of making do with a second hand bedroom set, we purchased a new one. We put an ad in the paper to sell our old one for $175. We’d already bought the new furniture, but weren’t spiritually mature enough to discern that it made more sense to GIVE away the one we no longer wanted-as opposed to charging a little something because it was too good to GIVE IT AWAY. What kind of self centered, crazy nonsense have we talked ourselves into believing? We gave ourselves credit for being overly generous when a family came & we LET THEM HAVE it for $125 because it appeared from the jalopy truck and worn out shoes they needed a break. We weren’t kind and we weren’t a blessing. We were selfish. S.E.L.F.I.S.H.
Hindsight is a great teacher. I thought I NEEDED that beautiful comforter set that I’d seen at Belk while we were bedroom shopping. That’s how I priced the used set-just enough to cover what I needed. But you know, something? I really didn’t NEED new bed linens, I simply wanted them. Not only that, but when we later fell on hard times, I realized what that family likely SACRIFICED in order for me to have an expensive set and it broke my heart.
I can’t undo that foolish decision, but because of it I genuinely see needs more readily. I pray GOD repaid them for me.