3. It forces me to feel thankful for the little things

I’m so thankful for my bed. That’s what I was thinking this morning, as I walked around straightening the sheets and comforter. Okay, I admit that’s not how it started. It started with me feeling frustrated that we don’t have a bed frame, or a set of sheets that actually fit our mattress, so I have to use a non-fitted sheet, tucked between the mattress and the floor instead. But just as I started to ramp up my complaining, I started to think about how thankful I am to have a mattress as comfortable as ours (it’s really comfortable).

4. It confronts my entitlement

I had my lowest moment while I was laying in bed sick, thinking about how normal people would go to the doctor when they felt like this. Normal people would buy an antibiotic, or even over the counter drugs that would help to ease the pain. My husband and I don’t currently have health insurance. Then suddenly it hit me. My picture of “normal” is seriously skewed if I think that “normal” people have access to health care.

5. It stretches my character

Sometimes I say I believe things, and I live like I believe them — as long as life is going okay. When things are easy, or moderately difficult, I stick to my guns. But it isn’t until things get hard that my true character is revealed. Having limited resources forces me to put my money where my mouth is (literally) with things like generosity, selflessness, and Packing Light.

6. It requires a more ethical use of resources

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, so I am no stranger to recycling, reusing, refurbishing and even composting. But it’s amazing how easily I forget to make simple sacrifices to conserve resources, and how being strapped for cash reminds me — to combine errands to save gas, carpool, alter or fix old clothes before buying new, shop second hand, turn old bread into croutons, etc, etc, etc.

7. It prevents me from getting too attached

A few years ago I was inspired by the story of the Rich Young Ruler from the gospels and, with a friend, quit my job, moved out of my apartment, sold all of my stuff, and traveled across the country to write a book about what it was like to live a life where we were Packing Light. What I learned was that getting too attached to “stuff” usually holds me back from becoming the woman God made me to be.