Minimalism Means Less Comparison and More Contentment

The pile of discarded items in my garage is growing each day, but, try as I may, I can’t seem to make a good blog post out of my progress.  I’ve been through the bathroom drawers and closet and my kitchen cupboards. I’ve made great headway, paring down the items we use each day to a manageable amount. But,as we are reading with the kids in Ecclesiastes, it all is meaningless.  I haven’t found joy in the accomplishment, and I have begun to despair of ever truly reaching that place of contentment, of enough.

Am I Enough?

The past few days, I have also struggled with depression over my inability to write.  Meanwhile, people in my Facebook writing group are publishing books and being asked to write for publications, while I tinker away here in near oblivion.  I question whether my writing is good enough to ever get to that point.

Jealousy raised its ugly head this week, as a friend recounted her great experience with a new opportunity we were both offered, but I declined to pursue at this time.  I could have been part of that team: having fun, going out, launching a new mom’s blog, but I’m not.

Instead, I’m at home, putting together pathetic-looking, inadequate spreadsheets for my husband’s business so we can figure out if our boys can go to a basketball camp, or if I can splurge on a new tube of lipstick or under eye concealer. More importantly, do we have enough so that my husband can start work on the second bathroom we desperately need for our family of seven? Will my efforts be enough to get us on track- and keep us there?

desk

I’m at home, where already I am fighting in the first week of home school to get my kids through their work for each day.  I actually got organized this year and stayed up for hours lesson planning.  However, my daughter has turned into a sullen, whiny, non-compliant child each morning, no doubt due to the uncomfortable, dangling front tooth she refuses to pull out.  I imagine her discomfort to be akin to that of a teething baby, only instead of screaming (well, there has been some of that, too), she has become surly.  My preparations have not been enough to ensure a successful start to the school year.  Already, the joy of homeschooling is buried somewhere beneath the assignment sheets and workbooks.

I am tired.  Tired from all of my achievements this week.  Tired of confining myself to the house all day in my pajamas, as I try to keep to a schedule that serves everyone else but me: meal plans and preparation, schoolwork, office work, housekeeping, laundry folding.  All in a day’s work for us moms, but, for some reason, I just feel burdened by it all.

fashion mall

Consumer Withdrawal

Truth be told, I think I am also experiencing consumer withdrawal.  Now that I have begun this minimalist journey, I am scared to leave the house, for fear I will shop.  If I shop, I will buy more unnecessary things to meet some emotional void in my life that will only cause me to feel guilty later for having shopped!  So, I stay home and keep trying to make life simpler and more efficient for my family, with a list of to do’s that gets longer even as the days get shorter.

The more I discard, the more stuff appears.  Where does it come from?  How do I make it stop?  Sell off the kids, I suppose.  No, no, I’m kidding.  But really?  How do they do it?  They are prolific mess-makers; I think they may have learned that from me.  Hopefully, they will learn the art of letting go from me, too . . . if I ever finish the course:)

What has all of this to do with comparison and contentment?  I have been comparing myself to others: their successes, their hairstyles, fashion or fitness level, their love for God, their calling and passion . . . and I keep coming up short.  Then I compare myself to my own expectations of who I should be, how I should look, what I should accomplish in a day . . . and I come up short again.

swing by the water sunset

The Secret to A Happy Life

And yet, I know the secret to a happy life is contentment.  Not complacency. God has not called us to get comfortable with our familiar habits. Contentment. As the Apostle Paul said, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

I cannot juggle it all, and my all could be a drop in the bucket to one person or an avalanche to another, but as the passage in Philippians continues, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  I need not burden myself with comparison against others’ journeys.  We each have our own.  But to each of us, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I want Jesus’ easy yoke and His light burden.  I am weary and heavy laden this week, with my own self-imposed cares and comparisons.  I want to lay them down before Him, and exchange them for His grace, His joy, His contentment.  To wake up with gratitude for what I have . . . and what I don’t have.  To know deep down inside that He is Enough.

What are you struggling to carry?  What do you need to lay down at Jesus’ feet?  Take His burden upon you: His love for the lost, His care for the orphans and widows, His encouragement to the discouraged, His joy for the journey.  He gives it freely.  All He asks is that we lay our lives down before Him and receive His life in their place.  His abundant, simple, sufficient life.

 

14 thoughts on “Minimalism Means Less Comparison and More Contentment

  1. Wow…are we sisters separated at birth?! 2 less kids and 2 more bathrooms —old house. But oh my I was totally checking off everything else! I am on this minimalist journey too. What is the answer for Legos? I have all boys and it seems we live in a sea of Legos!!

    1. Oh, Antonia, I think Legos are the bane of every parent’s existence. No amount of storage deters them from spreading throughout our house. So, honestly, I confiscated them last week, and I haven’t given them back yet. I told the kids if they didn’t pick them up, I would take them away, and I finally did. There are still a handful of stray pieces that they have found and contentedly play with, but my son does wonder when he is getting the rest back. My husband says, give them back, and when he doesn’t put them away again, take them away for another week. Hopefully, he’ll learn, but I don’t know. Here is a great post about a family who traveled the world last year; they are a homeschooling family, and each member could only bring a backpack filled with their possessions. For each boy, she packed a small container of legos, and they were content. I found the post very inspiring, as were the others she wrote on their adventure. http://theartofsimple.net/minimal-kids-toys/. Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!

  2. I noticed my DH began cleaning and sorting his things although I had more or less left him to his own when I started clearing the clutter. Once the family sees what a difference being decluttered and being organized can help, they do start in their own way to help. He still has a corner in the studio where he is quite messy but I leave that to him. He decluttered a lot, especially clothes and pack rat stuff. Lead them to the water but let them along to drink, I say. Your good ways will rub off on them. : )

    1. Eve, how exciting to have your husband on board! My husband is much more minimalist-minded than I am; I am a slow learner/grower. I am hoping that we will all enjoy the peace that less brings, enabling us to spend more recreational time together, rather than cleaning and picking up all the time. Thanks for the encouragement and for visiting!

  3. Hi Aimee,

    I “surfed” over from Joshua’s “Becoming Minimalist” and so glad to have found your blog. Your writing is so genuine and easily resonates with much of my own experiences.

    Also in awe of your achievements, particularly mothering 5 children! You have a sweet family, and I’m looking forward to your future posts.

    – Jean

    1. Jean, I’m glad you stopped by! Joshua is my favorite minimalist blogger- always an inspiration. Thank you for your kind words. To receive future posts, you are welcome to subscribe to the blog; then you will receive posts via email as they are posted (the link is on this page). Again, thank you for reading!

  4. Loved your post and I really like your style. It is a gentle drawing of your reader into the truths you have placed here and there. You don’t shout, and yet you get your point across clearly. Very nice.

    1. Thanks, Anne! I think sometimes I am just discovering these truths as I work through my thoughts. They are ever there, under the surface, from years of reading and teaching, but allowing them to permeate my life is the real challenge.

  5. Oh my word, I can so relate! Aimee your realness is as always, refreshing. And the whispers of truth at the end are huge…more like shouts of good news! Thanks for the time you put in to encourage us moms. You’re such a blessing!

    1. Thanks, Corinne. It took a couple of days to even push the publish button on this one, so I’m thankful it spoke to you.

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