As January comes to a close, I remember who I was last year at around this time. I remember learning about minimalism and being enticed by the idea of a more intentional life.
"Minimalism is about simplifying in order to live with intention and passion, rather than being tied to or weighed down by material possessions and acquisition. Minimalism is a reaction to materialism and consumerism. It is a reaction against the idea that you need more and more things to make you happy, comfortable, and full. It allows you to focus on the parts of life that you value, that bring you fulfillment." -A journal entry from 24 Jan 2016
This was the philosophy that pushed a young marriage, a risky move to Nashville, the donation of clothing and disposal of decor. I desired a simpler life, a clearer mind, intentionality. I no longer wanted to participate in the things that drained me. I no longer sought live in an environment that limited me.
Well, eventually I ran out of material things to donate or trash, and I was left with my thoughts. I’m still struggling to cull the irrational fears, the anxiety, the idolatry. I started analyzing my actions. What did it truly mean when I’d snap at loved ones in frustration? What did it really mean when I was jealous or comparative? What did it all boil down to? I start reflecting upon my moments and wondering why some were more irritating than others.
And I realized this month that I was all talk. I realized that I was still afraid, only now, nothing was masking those deep-set fears.
I preach about relying on God as the sustainer and giver of all things until I look at my bank account and feel like I don’t have enough. I’m all about encouraging others and reminding people that they're valuable until that person is me. I thought I was doing alright! I really did! But I was actually just shifting my focus back onto myself instead of my Father, shifting my thoughts from truth about myself to falsehood. I was like, Okay God. Thanks for getting me this far, but I’ve got it now. I’ll let you know when I need you again. (Gosh, I’m such a human.)
Long story short, simplifying my material life was all well and good. (Heck, that was the easy part.) Simplifying my mental life has been a bigger challenge for me. It's been slow and filled with setbacks. But I’m learning to create space and time to pursue the parts of life that I love. I’ve met new people, made new friends, and invested time with others in effort to build the community I need. I’m starting to build habits to protect my mental health and enrich my soul. I’m starting to build cushion in my life to alleviate the pressure to achieve, to strive, to hustle.
I’m learning to simplify my pace and finding out it’s more than the removal of junk, but the shifting of perspective. To quote my January 2016 self:
"For me, that would be a focus on relationships and experience. Living in the now, and enjoying life for what it is. It’s also creating a life that brings me relief, not anxiety. It’s a life lived in courage and trust in Christ, rather than in fear of expectations and in the seeking of approval. It’s a life lived in boldness and obedience and growth, rather than one that is stagnant and dull and forced.”