Packing was one of the most challenging parts of going away for our 10-week sabbatical in Kauai. We decided to bring one large duffle bag per person, and this needed to included space for any extras like gear, food, medicine, and all my natural remedies. If you know me, I’m kind of a health nut (lol).
I made a concise packing list for all of us. We each had a little over a week’s worth of clothing, giving us a little wiggle room to get all our clothes through the wash every week.
Pairing down was challenging, but I found it absolutely freeing.
One of my favorite things about sabbatical was not being overwhelmed by all the extra stuff.
Everything was simple.
We each had one water bottle to keep track of and we each had two swim suits to rotate through, one dry and one wet. I had a hiking outfit, a going out outfit, and a workout outfit. I didn’t have to overthink things and I really didn’t care about anyone seeing me in the same thing twice.
Surprisingly, I loved this about the places we stayed in, too. The smallest place we stayed in was my favorite. The owners were intentional and practical about every single piece of furniture and every single kitchen gadget. Plus, the knives were actually sharp so you knew they cared about what was in their kitchen drawers. There wasn’t excess, but it had what we needed. The simple clutter-free kitchen made me want to cook in it all the more.
Living simply is a part of the island living mindset. Everything is imported, so you take care of what you have and you try not to waste. The one Walmart on the island won’t even give you bags for your groceries; bringing your reusable bags is a must!
It’s so interesting how our physical life impacts our spiritual life. Living simply somehow helped my soul live more freely.
When I put this into the context of my story, it makes more sense. I saw how God was using this seemingly insignificant practice of simplicity to help me taste more freedom in other areas of my life.
Because of my story, I learned from a young age how to take care of myself. I worked multiple jobs as a teenager and I put myself through college. But somehow having less made me accumulate more. And I don’t mean fancy things; I just mean I hardly ever threw anything away or gave anything away. I justified keeping things because I could repurpose everything. I didn’t want to look back and “wish I’d kept that.”
My resourcefulness was necessary for that season in my life, but what happened over time as my family grew from 2 people to 6 is that we unavoidably accumulated a lot of stuff.
Leaving our stuff and living with less all summer forced me to live more simply. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself having more time, energy, and capacity to give to the things that matter the most to me.
It takes a lot of time, energy, and capacity to keep up with all the stuff in our lives. And I’m not sure that’s the kind of abundant life I want.
In John 10:10 Jesus says,
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
What does that really mean for us?
What does that mean for me?
What does that mean for you?
How could the practice of simplicity play into the context of your own story? How could less actually mean more for you?
I’m still in process and I’m certainly not an expert on simplicity, but what makes me want to implement this practice into my own life is not by should-ing myself to live a more clutter-free life; it’s by realizing how all the stuff adds a kind of low-grade level of anxiety to my life that I didn’t even know I was aware of before sabbatical.
So now, when I give something away or buy less, I tell myself I’m creating more space for the things I truly care about. I’m creating space to live more freely and more abundantly.
In the book A Simplified Life, Emily Ley succinctly puts it this way,
“Remember, the less clutter, the more breathing room you get for what matters.”
When I came home from Kauai, I went through my closet and finally gave away all the clothes hanging up that didn’t fit me anymore and never wore, but I thought I might need one day.
When I stepped back and saw all the open space lining the wall in my closest, I exhaled. I immediately saw the parallel to my spiritual life. Healing and wholeness taking place in my soul as I create more open space for love to grow.
In Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect, she devotes an entire chapter to simplicity and explains why it matters.
“I’m able to give more focused attention on the higher-stakes decisions in my life – the ones about parenting, marriage, friendship – when I don’t have to think hard about what to wear or how to manage all my stuff. The ambient noise of my life gets quieter when there’s less stuff in my life, and fewer decisions to make about that stuff. And in the newfound silences is space for connection, rest, listening, learning.”
Abundance is not found in stuff. Abundance is found in connection.
Connection with our Savior who abundantly loves us, heals us, frees us, and allows us to abundantly love others.
May we carry the practice of simplicity with us this Christmas and into the New Year as we write out our goals, resolutions, and word-for-the-year.
Here’s to less, making room for more.
*Previous posts in the series.