JoEllen Dykstra has been inspiring me over the last year with her “minimal” living. I asked her to share more about why she made this change and how it has impacted her life. Here are her thoughts…
Looking back over my life I was always inclined to dislike clutter, and yet I had so much stuff. I loved auctions, rummage sales and buying anything with the credit card… that we shouldn’t have been using in the first place.
Then, a few years ago my husband and I took our first trip to Europe (best decision ever!), which sparked my interest in living minimally. We traveled nearly 2 weeks with just a carry on suitcase through a variety of climates and across a handful of countries. I enjoyed having minimal decisions about what to wear, and found out I could dress classy with few accessories. I also discovered that we are encouraged to live like gluttons in our great US of A. It was refreshing to see Europeans content with a small houses, minimal clutter, and I especially appreciated their love for ‘holiday’. Due to their lack of stuff, it felt they had more time for the important things in life.
It was shortly after this that God led me through a very dark season of difficult family situations, personal conflicts in my community and ultimately the sudden death of a dear friend and mother-figure– my only sister. Through that grief journey and healing process, earthly things quickly lost their pizzazz, and I longed to cling to the lasting, important things in life. I am now truly intentional about living minimally. As long as God keeps me on this earth, I will strive to value people and experiences over material items.
In a sense, I’m here on vacation, and vacations are easier when you just take a carry-on.
Of course the obvious benefits to living minimally are less cleaning, less decisions, much less wasted time just organizing stuff. But the following 3 benefits are the most important to me, and they might surprise you.
1) You no longer have to be a slave to consumerism & materialism.
As a young woman I fear I associated my value with how much I owned. Maybe I bought to make me happy, but the happiness just didn’t last. We have intentionally decreased our personal stuff by at least 30% in the past year, and I haven’t missed one item yet. Now when I make purchases, I’m more intentional, and when I buy, I need to love the item.
2) True contentment can be possible.
Now that I don’t feel the need to live faster, build bigger or buy newer, my resources can be spent on what’s important– my family and work. My husband and I sold our larger house a year ago, and together built a small house on family land. We love our small, low maintenance home. The home may be small, but it is very functional and some rooms have multiple functions. Our house feels like home because it’s what we love, not what consumerism says we should love.
3) It’s about much more than material things.
The biggest benefit for me has been the overflow into my social life, decision making and of course my relationship with my Lord. I’m learning when my responsibility plate is full, I may say “no”. I’m learning how to step away from unnecessary drama. I circle myself with people I love and who add joy to my life. My life has had more changes in the past 4 years than this blog has time for! Some have been exciting, and some very difficult and complex. Through all the changes, I am most importantly learning God is my constant. Earthly items break and go out of style– He doesn’t. Things and people will come and go, but He will never change or leave me (Deuteronomy 31:8) as I vacation on this earthly home.
If living minimally is intriguing to you, check out this post from Becoming Minimalist that lists 12 Unique Life Resolutions/Habits that could help you begin to see positive shifts in your life through simple changes.
You won’t regret shifting your priorities and focusing on people over things, on positivity over negativity. It has been a long road, but I have never felt more satisfied, content and dependent on my Savior.
What step will you take today?
“When old patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” – Tuli Kupferberg