5 Steps to the Supernatural Joys of Minimalism
- Heather Riggleman Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2020 26 Jun
Each day as I enter my home it feels like second skin—airy, fresh, and with plenty of space. The closets are clean and organized most of the time, and I don’t have the feeling of being chained down under the weight of “stuff.”
Our bank account isn’t drained by needless stuff and we have more time to travel and give to the organizations that matter to us biblically. My friends and family admire our new lifestyle but it wasn’t easy to get here.
It had become very clear our clutter was stealing time, energy, and focus from pursuing what mattered most. Removing unneeded possessions freed up precious resources and opportunities for other things. We did something truly crazy: we switched careers and moved to a small town to reduce our possessions from a 3,500 square foot house to one half its size. And friends, let me tell you—it’s worth it!
If you’ve ever fantasized about selling everything and paring down to the bare essentials, you’re probably familiar with minimalism. What I found over time is that minimalism isn’t only about decluttering and getting rid of a bunch of stuff. It’s not just about empty closets, sparse furniture, or finding the perfect arrangement.
It’s about getting rid of the things and distractions that keep us from the most important things in our lives.
What Is Minimalism?
Minimalism is living simply. How simple is up to you.
In short, minimalism is living with less. How much less is up to you.
Minimalism is about getting more out of life. What you want to get out of life is up to you and God.
The more stuff you have, the more it costs. And the more it costs, the more you have to work. This equation is why our nation is always hustling. Nowadays, families have two parents that work outside the home just to have the things they want. But with all the hours spent away at work, many are finding it’s not worth the soul-suffocating feelings it brings.
If you consider yourself part of the Christian world, you might be wondering if this whole minimalism movement is in line with your beliefs. A minimalist lifestyle is actually in line with God’s word. I do believe that God wants me to live a minimalist lifestyle that is unique to my calling and purpose. And, I do believe that if you are a Christ-follower, God wants you to live a minimalist lifestyle that’s unique to you. After all, your life isn’t about you—but it is uniquely yours.
Although you won’t find the definition of minimalist in the Bible, you will find the some of the principles of minimalism are biblical. Here are four simple steps to the supernatural joys of minimalism.
1. Seek God’s Will
If you feel weighed down under the pressure to maintain the current lifestyle you have, pray about it. Journal it out. What feels overwhelming? What makes you feel held back? What are the things you want more of? Family time? A chance to travel? More time to volunteer or pursue your hobbies?
God never intended for us to run continually on the hamster wheel just to buy a house and then get a bigger house, only to sell that one later on and get the newest one, complete with the cars, the boat, the camper, and the white picket fence.
God did say, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” God meant for us to live in the richness of his presence and his joy. Keep John 10:10 in mind as you ask yourself and God these questions. Then dream. What does an abundant life in God look like?
2. Assess your life. Set priorities, and clarify the why behind each priority.
Write it all down. Make a list of all the reasons you want to live more simply. Write out what you sense God impressing upon your heart. Write out the benefits. Then write out real-life situations that are affecting your joy.
For example, if you’re mad that you can’t spend more time with your kids, put it on paper. If you are sick of debt collectors, write it down. Too stressed out to sleep at night? Add it to the list. Want to fire your boss? Yep, write that down too. These are your whys...and your whys will provide great leverage when you think it’s too hard to keep going. Your whys will help you remember what matters.
Luke 12:15 reminds us, “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’”
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Bearinmind
3. Evaluate Your Time
Becoming a minimalist is not only about decluttering physical objects, but also about getting rid of time-wasting activities. Ask yourself, “Do the activities I engage in add value to my life?” Doing so will help you to spend less time with time-wasting activities.
This in turn will give you more freedom for activities you really enjoy. Look at everything you do and every activity you regularly engage in. Once you have a good understanding of how you spend your time, see if you can reduce unbeneficial activities, like Netflix binging, Candy Crush, etc.
This step could actually include who you spend time with as well. We’ve all heard the phrase “You mirror the company you keep.” Are the individuals you spend time with worthy of your time? Do they cause you to spend money or influence ungodly habits or actions?
1 Timothy 6:11 says: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
3. Marie Kondo Your Stuff
After you’ve set your priorities, it’s time to address your material possessions. Think about everything you own and find out if these things align with your priorities. Leave no stone unturned and figure out if the things you own add value to your life or distract or create mental noise.
It’s often difficult to admit, but the evaluation of your possessions may highlight the idols of your heart. In fact, the best method is what I affectionately refer to as: Marie Kondo your possessions.
Marie’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, took the world by storm with the simple phrase, “If it doesn’t bring you joy…” The concept of her book is based on one simple question. Does your stuff make you happy? Or, in Kondo's words, does it ‘spark joy?’ She writes, “If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”
Luke 12:33-34 supports this method. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
4. Organize and Kondo by Category
Marie Kondo advises to clean by category. This allows you to realize whether or not the items you have are duplicated or if they don’t bring you joy. If they’re duplicates or duds, then donate it.
Categories include: Clothing, books, papers, electronics, videos, games, DVDs, office supplies, health and beauty, toys, and even tools. This process combined with decluttering your home will allow you to pare down your stuff and create more space. These possessions may be fancy or entertaining “nice-to-have’s,” but deep down, we know that they don’t add any significant meaning or purpose to our lives. All they do is waste our God-given gifts such as time, or drain our energy and empty our bank accounts.
Try these one at a time and continue to take tiny steps and lean into the life you crave. Even if it takes a few months or years. In this world of extremes, it all boils down to stuff. We glorify it, idolize it, seek it out, and can’t stop buying it. But it’s a dead end, and people are starting to figure that out. Even if it takes a few years to get to where you think you want to be, the benefits begin immediately.
Romans 12:2 reminds us: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/SeventyFour
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.