Welcome to the series More with Less where we look at various ways we can live a more abundant life with fewer possessions. I hope this series helps you to rethink how you view your money and possessions. You can read the intro My Journey with Money and previous installments: The Four Purposes of Money, Give Your Money Away, and Cultivate Contentment.
In the six years since we got married, Ryan and I have packed our lives and possessions into two carry-ons and two checked bags each and moved on a plane to a new country three times. We’ve done it with one kid and we’ve done it with two. And with another international move somewhere on the horizon I’m starting to cast a sideways glance at everything we own.
It’s been a year since we moved to Oregon and while we’ve done a good job of not accumulating too much stuff, accumulate we have. So it’s time to reevaluate what we really need and what truly adds value to our life.
It’s time for a cleanse.
This is not something that comes naturally to me. It’s only because of this (temporarily) nomadic life God has called us to that I have learned the value in owning less stuff. I cried a lot the first few times I had clear out my possessions en mass. It’s hard to let go of things that you like or have some level of sentimental value because it doesn’t make a positive contribution to you or your home. But I can tell you it’s worth it.
When I purge my possessions I feel lighter, freer. The things that are left have real significance or usefulness and they’re not surrounded by a din of clutter. I don’t miss what I’ve gotten rid of and I can’t even remember what most of it was. Though it can be very hard to decide what stays and what goes I’ve come to err on the side of going. It gets easier for me every time I clear things out and every time I see that I don’t even need as much as I thought I did the last time. The number of my possessions is always getting smaller.
The less I own, the less I have to take care of and spend time cleaning, organizing and maintaining. When my kids’ toy boxes are overflowing the whole house seems to be messier. The more clothes I own the more space I have to find for them and the more I have to sort through. Because my time is precious and limited, I want to spend it caring for the people in my life, not the stuff I own.
I recognize our situation is rather unique. Most of you live permanently (or at least semi-permanently) in your space so you don’t have the, shall I say, luxury of a regular forced purge. But you can keep how much you own at a level that works for you; enough to keep life enjoyable and comfortable without requiring too much effort. It could take some trial and error and real soul searching but I believe you can find a balance that works for you and your family. You will be blessed when you achieve it.
While there are a few items I’d love to one day own I’m thankful that God decided that I have to regularly remove the excess stuff from my home and life. And I do look forward to when we can own wild and crazy things like a couch or a food processor. Though I know it will be more challenging to keep our possessions to a minimum when the time comes for us to settle somewhere (and God willing that day will be soon) I hope the lessons I have learned in this season of life will hold fast and we will be able maintain a simple home, only filled with things of real value.
Do you see value in owning less? If so, how do you keep the number of possessions you own reasonable? What works for you?