Updated: Apr 30
There was a time when everything I owned fit in an 8 x 10 room. Everything. Life was simple. My days were filled with playing outdoors where joy and laughter dominated the day. When it rained, we all went to a buddy’s house and traded baseball cards. My biggest fear came the night before report cards came out. Friends never stayed mad, my bike was always where I left it, and there was always baloney in the fridge.
Since that time, nearly fifty years ago, I have been accumulating things that now fill a 1,700-square-foot home. Many things I procured because of need while many more things I collected because of want. I look around and wonder who put all this crap in my garage.
Setting aside material things, I have been chasing goals, seeking wealth, status, and meaning at a similar pace. Despite numerous setbacks, I consider myself to be way ahead in this game called life if we’re keeping score. And I can honestly say that I have done so with pure motives as my desire, and obligation, to provide a comfortable life for my family took center stage.
At some point in our lives, we pause to reflect upon our place in the world. We begin to ask deep, philosophical questions about the meaning of our existence. We wrestle with the path we have taken and wonder if we were truly following the plan laid out for us or at least utilizing our God-given potential to the fullest. Thus begins our search for significance.
As we are all unique individuals, this chapter of our lives occurs at different times for each person. Some get it early, perhaps upon graduating high school or college, while others settle in much later in life. For me, it happened somewhere in between.
As we look back at this moment in our lives we may wonder what exactly triggered this new realm of thought. Perhaps it was a book that we read or a movie that we watched or an obligatory church service we attended at Christmas or Easter. Whatever the case, there is generally a moment that sends us down that dark hole of thought in search of the seemingly unsearchable.
My “moment” commenced with the death of my father. At the age of 35, I was stunned by the death of the most important man in my life; my hero, my mentor, my dad. He was a week shy of his 69th birthday when a fall in the backyard changed everything. It was at that moment that I started thinking about my mortality.
You see, my grandfather lived until the ripe old age of 70, and his dad made it to 55 (another accident). My great-great-grandfather lived until 56. Are we beginning to see a pattern here? So, with the information at my fingertips, I began to assume my life was half over. What had I done with my life? Did I use everything I had? Will the world be different, for the better, because I was here?
It was in the following twelve months that I found my significance. It was not in material things nor was it in a status or salary. It couldn’t really be considered in the here and now. My significance, my meaning in life, my “call” was to live for Eternity.
“…store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them.”
Now, being honest, I didn’t really begin the “minimalism” approach until a couple of years ago, and I still have a long way to go. But I have begun letting go of long-held possessions that no one in my family is going to want to inherit. But the purging of physical objects has taken a back seat temporarily as I ponder the accumulation of “stuff” that fills the precious 168 hours of my week.
As I re-evaluate my significance — my meaning — I can’t help but notice a pile of unnecessary clutter filling my days and getting in the way of enjoying things I truly value. It is here where I will continue to do more with my life with less.
My challenge to you is to stop, pause, reflect, and remove all things that clutter your days and keep you from doing that which you are truly passionate about. Watching too much television? Scrolling through endless stories, feeds, reels, and cute cat pictures (I have nothing against cute cat pictures)? Could you be spending more time reading to your child or grandchild, whipping up a new recipe you have been dying to try, or going for a walk or riding your bike?
Have you been wanting to draw, paint, write, craft, or simply create things you have designed in your mind? Would you want to visit friends, go on an adventure, study God’s Word, or spend time praying for friends and loved ones? These, among others, are questions that must be asked and demand answers. You will then discover the magic of doing more with less.