So this year I decided that I would be a part of the One Word 365 movement, where you pray about the one thing in your life that you will be intentional about during the year. If you’ve ever done this project, you’ve no doubt noticed that many people have nice words like “rejoice”, “joy”, “prayer”, or something easily recognizable like “intentional”, and so on. The word that chose me this year was “less”. Less. I say it chose me, because frankly I was hoping for one of those “nice” words, or even something fun, like… “fun” or “laugh”. But every time I thought about One Word 365, or read something about it, or visited a blog with that button on it, the word whispered to me: less. It sounds odd but it didn’t really surprise me. I live a life of excess, at least when it comes to activities and household “stuff”. I’m also easily distracted from things I should be doing by the chaos around me that demands my attention right now, like straightening that toppling stack of magazines or making yet another trip to the store for something I forgot earlier or driving my children to yet another activity. And we are a busy family. I’m not even going to attempt to describe an average week, because most people don’t believe that we actually do all that stuff. In the midst of all that bustling around, I rarely found time to sit down and study the Word, or pray with any sort of intentionality. My children and husband weren’t getting much “real” attention from me either.
One thing that became immediately clear when I embarked on my journey of “less” was that I had to reduce the number of obligations in my life. Basically, I’ve had to learn how to say “no”. I’m not good at that at all. I like to be needed and to feel useful, and I’m a firm believer that if you want something done right, you’ll have to do it yourself. I have resigned from two positions I held within my church and handed both of them over to individuals who have proven to be far more talented at those jobs than I was. I should have done that so much sooner!
I’m spending far less time worrying about all the things I need to do but haven’t done. And because I’m not spending time doing that I have rediscovered the joy of getting into the Word every day (or nearly every day) and I’ve been able to work on this blog.
And then there’s the “stuff”. I like my stuff. My general rule is that if I can’t find or afford to buy another one, I’m keeping it. If I can watch an episode of “Hoarders” and feel a little bit superior because at least I’m not that bad, then I must be doing okay, right? Well, not anymore. I’ve been cleaning out my kids’ closets and giving clothes and shoes away to friends whose kids can use them. I’ve been getting ruthless about donating things to charity. Just last weekend I was cleaning up from a rained out garage sale, and normally I would have boxed it all up and saved it for the next garage sale. I was aiming to do just that, when it came to me that I should just donate it all to Goodwill. All of it. Before I could change my mind, I had it all bagged and boxed up and loaded in the back of my van. My inner hoarder was protesting, “But, but…that might be worth some money! But what if you need those 27 black purses someday?” (As a side benefit, my garage was available to be used for its intended purpose once again)
God has shown me that for me, my tendency to hold onto things is evidence of a lack of faith. I don’t trust God to provide for me, so I keep everything I think I might need or want some day down the road. It’s greed. It’s holding onto things of this world instead of storing up my treasures in heaven.
So whenever I shop, I try to really evaluate if that thingamajig I’m looking at is really necessary for me to live a full life. Do I need one more pair of shoes? Can I live by the one in, one out rule? (so far the answer is no, but it’s only halfway through the year so there’s still hope) I don’t have to buy something just because it’s on sale and it’s a great deal. I can only wear so many pairs of flip flops, even though I live in the South and we wear them just about everywhere and they can be worn about 9 months of the year.
And less can be applied to so many things. There have been occasions when I let anger get the best of me, or sarcastic words fly from my mouth, and I hear, “Less of that”. Less babying my children. Less wasting time watching television. Less bad attitude.
I feel like God has only just begun this exercise of stripping away the excess until all that remains is what is needed. It’s scary but oh so liberating!
“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30