In the early years of our marriage, we moved every few years. This helped to keep us from accumulating too much.
Nevertheless, over the years, we’ve accumulated a lot of things. We’ve been given lots of gifts and we’ve bought things we liked. How about you?
Susan V. Vogt wrote a book called, Blessed by Less. For Lent one year, Susan took action: she gave away one thing a day for forty days. But what happened during that penitential period surprised her; she became so addicted to identifying unnecessary things in her life that she continued the practice for a full year. Then she began letting go of other baggage—some physical, some emotional—and found that, far from feeling poorer, she felt freer and more fulfilled than ever before. A spiritual place had opened that allowed Susan to unclutter her mind and deepen her faith.
Susan wrote, “Your life is an overflowing closet. You know it is. There are sweatshirts folded up in a corner of your mind where your children’s birthdays should be stored. That worry about the rust on the car is taking up the space that you had reserved for a slow cup of tea in the morning. I know how you feel. And guess what? There’s a way to get stuff back where it belongs: let go of some of it.
“Living lightly is not just about the stuff we accumulate, and it’s not just for people in the second half of life. It’s about an attitude of living with fewer burdens and encumbrances, whether you’re twenty-one or sixty-five. When done with honest self-awareness, the journey toward living more lightly has moved me to realize that I am blessed by less. Less stuff and worries have opened space to live with more contentment and meaning. Living lightly reminds me that my existence is more than accumulating possessions and status. Ultimately, I am on a spiritual pilgrimage.
“As I continue to strip away the unnecessary stuff in my closets and mind, I’ve been able to see more clearly how much is enough and how much is more than enough. It’s a delicate dance to balance my own genuine needs with those of others. The spiritual paradox is that the less tightly I cling to my stuff, my way, and my concerns, the happier and more blessed I feel. Once I have enough, less is more.”
So what about those of us who live cross-culturally? We may accumulate a lot of stuff while living overseas, and not just local crafts and artwork, either. But let’s start there.
Many of the things we’ve been given are beautiful and meaningful to us. But, I never wanted to live in a museum. I did not want every shelf and table covered with the lovely, yet unnecessary stuff we have kept. We have a book shelf between our living room and dining room that I use to display a few choice items. I change these every few weeks. This way we have new things to see, remember, and enjoy without the clutter.
We also framed some pictures painted by local artists. They look really good in our Asian home. But when the time comes to move to another place, those pictures will be given to someone here in Asia to enjoy.
Are there things that you are clinging to very tightly? Would giving these to others be a blessing to them and a release and refreshing to you?
Susan also wrote about what we accumulate in our heart and mind? You might like to take another look at the article called, Baggage Check, in which I covered some attitudes that we might need to notice and get rid of from our lives.
Let’s be blessed by less!
You may buy her book on Kindle at: Amazon for 10 USD.
Last month I sent a newsletter with lots of links to resources you might enjoy. I had a few responses with great links I want to share.
From Mandy, “I love One Place (http://www.oneplace.com/), and use it to listen to Family Life, Focus on the Family, Tony Evans, etc. online almost every day. It’s been a huge encouragement to me for years- first in the US, then as a single and newlywed here in England, and now even more so being a stay-at-home mom far from my family.”
From Patty, “Another resource is an online community for women serving cross-culturally: velvetashes.com” Join the community and receive an email with the current blog entry on topics very interesting to those of us serving cross culturally.
We would still like to hear from you if you know of resources others would be blessed to know about. Remember, some of our members are new to the field and are just learning what would be helpful. Others are old timers who would enjoy some new contacts. And then there are others like, Ellen, who have been living in rural settings with little or no internet connection and have just moved to a town with much better internet. Why not share what blesses you?