Oct 13, 2019 • Written by Nicki Behnke
There has been a slow stirring in my soul over the past few years to investigate what it might be like to simplify. In the midst of a life that doesn’t seem to slow down, I felt drawn to minimize my things, time, and space, so I awkwardly jumped in headfirst.
Last fall I decided to wear a total of 30 clothing items for a solid three months straight. I spent hours researching strategy and then proceeded to pull my closet apart and reason over every piece of clothing I owned. Much to my surprise, I made it a full 3 months in the same 30 items, and in the end, I had some really positive take-aways.
Shortly after that experience I decided that my family needed a taste of simplicity as well. A few days before we embarked on a 10 day vacation, eyebrows were raised at the dinner table when I shared my grand plan to pack all of our things into a single suitcase. Other than overlooking the fact that a suitcase has to weigh a certain amount to fly, our family of five did indeed share one and didn’t miss a thing. In fact, our experiment was so successful we cut down to backpacks on our next adventure.
It’s not only been “stuff” that we have tried to simplify. As a family we have also pushed hard against the cultural norm and expectations put on our time. We are extremely cautious with our commitments regardless of how “great” the opportunity may seem. Our kids are allowed one extra-curricular at a time and we eat dinner as a family most evenings. This has brought consistent rest on so many levels and has allowed us to step fully into the practice of Sabbath on a weekly basis as well.
And those adorable luxury tiny houses that advertise on my social media feeds?...my husband and I have spent many-a-coffee-dates in excited conversation over the thought of what could someday be. Although we won’t be living in a tiny-house anytime soon, we are in the process of cutting our current living space and mortgage in half.
So why? What has drawn our family to a minimalism of time, space, and things? What’s the point and is it really life giving? Is that popular mantra “Less is More” more than just a saying but perhaps a key to life?
My youth pastor would often tell us “If Satan can’t make you bad, he will make you busy.” I use to think this only pertains to my calendar, but I am realizing it is so much more than that. When life is cluttered in time, space, and things, often my soul is as well, and it becomes easy to miss what God might have for me.
“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to Him “What are you doing here Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13
The Lord often speaks in the quiet places of life and in whispers to our soul. In the noise and the clutter of life, it can be easy to miss what He may be specifically saying to us. When we are present and aware of what the Holy Spirit may be asking us to do, we then have the opportunity to walk in obedience. And here is the key, walking in obedience to God brings simplicity to life.
So while God may not be asking you to do something wild like downsize to a tiny-house, it may be worth examining your life and asking if it is too cluttered in time, space, or things. If God is in a whisper, will your life allow you to hear Him?