Minimalism is appealing to me. I am someone who requires significant space and margin for her soul to breathe. I like to feel unencumbered. I like having just a few solid choices to choose from, and for everything I buy or receive and keep to have a purpose. I like the bright, white Nordic style of whites and just a few earth tones – colors from by the sea, or vibrant produce. I can’t stand clutter.
So if you’d asked me, I would have considered myself a minimalist. Until the day I had what felt like an epiphany: God is not a minimalist. And I can’t give what I don’t have . . . what I haven’t obtained or accumulated.
I understand that there are different concepts of and approaches to minimalism as a lifestyle, but I also find it helpful to remember what words actually mean and find the ones that convey a concrete, true, and most appropriate meaning. Minimalism is literally characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity. I’m pretty sure it stems from an entire belief system and way of life that seeks to detach from and empty of earthliness.
Creatively, this earth . . . my mind, and the tools I use to type with are anything but extremely spare and simple. I had to learn all these words and they only make sense if you’re a person who understands English.
Some things about God are simple and simply true, but He is not – on the whole – extremely simple.
God does spare us, but the method by which He is ‘able’ to do so cost Him everything.
‘Sacrificial’ generosity is so important to me. I genuinely delight in supporting ministries that marry Good News with good works. I enjoy sharing with strangers and not counting the cost of blessing my friends and family. I believe in giving when and where you can feel it; to the point where it takes faith. And for years, that’s what I have been doing. Gifts are my love language, and I want to be someone who lavishes . . . like God. I have always wanted to be a woman who gives out checks with commas in them to bless other people. And in order for that to be a thing that happens, I will need more than enough.
Lately, I’ve been learning that God never intended for anyone from any nation to be continually dependent on other people as their source. He does make rich and make poor, but He has also chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith. And it’s by faith that we receive His promises. And He promises to take care of us and meet the needs He already knows we have. It just takes effort and scriptural mind renewal . . . willingness and obedience. He is a God that lifts the needy from the ash heap and makes barren women happy mothers.
Living in California as an adulting child of the 90s, I got a little bit lost in the glorification of roaming and being ‘city-poor’. It starts as a comforting cynicism – a way to make light of an enduring frustration when it seems like you can’t actually get ahead in life. So moving back to the East Coast was fairly simple. I didn’t have very much to my name that couldn’t be dragged to the dumpster or traipsed over to Goodwill on foot. Since I’ve been back, God has brought to my attention that He never intended for my whole life to fit into the back of a vintage Subaru Forester.
Trading in my apocalypse-ready beach mobile for a computer-operated sedan was outside of my comfort zone, but it has also been the catalyst for a deeper rest in me that is excited by the opportunity to actually put down roots and have more things in my house that belong to me than can fit in the trunk of my car. I’m not advocating mere accumulation for the sake of stock-piling things. My life does not consist in the abundance of my possessions. But the blessing of having my needs well met equates to a bed frame and mattress to sleep on, a stove to cook from, and whole entire machines to clean my laundry. And ironically, it brings to my attention the need to put my hope and faith in God to sustain me in and through all things.
As I was thinking about that concept – that God has a larger life for me than a four-door vehicle can hold, I considered the biblical motifs of wandering and roots. Wandering and homelessness are associated with curses and punishment while roots and wealth and establishment are associated with obedience and blessings.
So anyways, I have become an advocate of extra. Because generosity is important to me and because I want to have influence.
Because I value hospitality, I intend to have extra bed- and bathrooms in my eventual home and extra nutbutter for baking and extra commas in the checks I give away.
But not at the expense of extra s p a c e .
I intend to fill my life with beauty that is useable, and I refuse to thoughtlessly consume and accumulate. As with all of my well-intentioned manifestos, I simply aspire to live like the God I love.
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