This has been a year of faith growing for me. If I’m painfully honest, I am the poster child for, “Ye of little faith.” My security has been cash for as long as I can remember. When my husband and I were first starting out, I wanted nothing more than to be “comfortable” in the finance department. I also wanted “the latest, greatest,” as many 20-somethings do. When our kiddos came along, we had the 4 bedroom with a huge yard and an in-ground pool in the back. They were dressed to the nines for school (as some of their report cards will attest), and took every lesson and played most organized sports available to children of their age. We had a membership to a very posh gym and drank chain coffee drinks on the regular. I spent much of my time keeping up with the proverbial Joneses and secretly envying our friends and family members who had more than we did.
At some point, I realized how absolutely ugly all of that was and how little I cared to continue running on the hamster wheel I had created for myself. It also became very important for me to teach this to my children before they flew out of my nest. This was not any easy goal, as I had spent their entire lives modeling the polar opposite of my new conviction-turned-passion.
Simplicity is my destination. I don’t mean I just want less stuff, I mean I want simplicity in my relationships, in my closet, in my schedule and in my home. Initially, I thought it would take about a year to clean out the garage, our house, etc. I believed it was an easy “weed through” kinda thing, and then I began the process. It was not simple nor easy. I’m embarrassed to admit how attached I am to too many things. The most humiliating facet of this process is how long I am willing to hang on to things I haven’t used or needed in decades, just in case I may need them one day. Secretly, I envision myself saving money just when we need it most because of an item I’ve been hoarding in an overstuffed closet for 16 years. You know, that perfect, authentic piece for my child’s Halloween costume (our youngest are 22 years old!), or that kitchen tool that I received 20 years ago in a bundle from an elderly relative, that I’ve NEVER used, but washed many times – in case I needed it suddenly one day… (Truth be told, I didn’t even know what some of those things were!) Of course, I had outfits that I would never look good in again or purchased on a whim and never even wore. Not a few, but 4 LARGE trash bags full. I also had 7 huge crates of books that my family had to pretty much force me to part with. I was saving those for the grandchildren I don’t yet have. Broken appliances, hideous, worn-out furniture, bags, jars, vases, rags, lotions, expired medicines, partial sheet sets…
Our 2-car garage was filled to the brim and there was very little room in our home. Last year we gave away, sold and threw out more than 1/2 of the “stuff” we had accumulated, and still our new tiny 1-car garage is filled, not to the brim, but the floor is about 80% covered.
I work in a very wealthy part of Austin. My employers live a life I used to covet and yearn for. Almost inevitably when I am driving to work, passing mansion after mansion, I look up at God and thank Him for the life I have and for not giving me the one I used to think would bring me joy. He has freed me from that. I don’t just accept that I don’t have a life like that, I celebrate that I don’t and more importantly, I rejoice that I have the life He has blessed me with.
Last summer I quit my job as a teacher. I was quite terrified, a little heartbroken, and a smidge thrilled. Every year the powers that be (tptb) in my district made things more and more complicated and less about teaching my precious students, and I found that I just couldn’t do it in good conscience anymore. I’ve been nannying/doula-ing for families with newborns and toddlers since then and my work life is SO much more relaxed and rewarding. I’m still not sure this is exactly what I’m meant to be doing, but my stress level is much lower and when I leave my job, I am actually done until I return and I’m on the clock again. When I’m home, I am present. There are no papers to correct, endless lesson plans to complete or ridiculous t-tess forms to fill out to convince admin that I can actually still teach after doing a bang-up job for 20 years already! I have fun on my 3-day weekends without working late all week or shutting myself in all day Saturday or Sunday. I am also not exhausted when I get home.
I’ve pursued healthy christian relationships with other women who want to grow and truly love Jesus. I’ve spent some time looking at and praying about the relationships I’ve had in the past and I’ve chosen to walk away from some unhealthy ones. My new home is peaceful in a way that I have desired for a very long time. There is a place and a time when drama is a part of life, it is inevitable, but I just refuse to entertain it unnecessarily. While this has been the most difficult part of my life to simplify, and often the most painful, it has also been the most rewarding.
I still have a closet to thin out a bit and “stuff” in the garage that needs to go, but I’m recognizing what we have accomplished, not beating myself up for what still needs to be done. It is all a journey, to be walked with our heads up, noticing the beauty all around us and living in the moment. As I lighten my load, I find I am enjoying everything a little more, looking up, sitting back, jumping in. I’m finding that the best provider is not my husband, certainly not me or our bank account, but He will provide my needs and often my wants. As I let go of more and have less, I find I am trusting Him more and realizing I need and want less. It doesn’t make sense in this culture, but it works better than anything I’ve ever done and that’s enough for me to continue on this journey He’s leading me on.