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Minimalism from a Biblical Point of View —

Biblical Minimalism© is "a complete, whole-person release of anything unlike Jesus, a letting go of everything that hinders us from following Him wholeheartedly and single-mindedly, and a relinquishing of all that brings us under bondage to this earthly, very temporary life." Cheryl E. Smith

Monday, May 4, 2020

How Minimalism has Prepared Us for Such A Time as This

"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:16


Starting with an identity theft nightmare that also served as a wake-up call in 2015, my family and I have been on an intense mission to simplify our lives.  We sold our home and two acres of land, let go of about 90% of our physical possessions, paid off all our debt, and removed everything on our schedules that was enslaving and overwhelming us.  Three years into our minimizing journey, my husband’s job was unexpectedly outsourced, and what followed was a long stretch of multiple medical issues and 21 months unemployment.  These life-altering changes have come together to produce a surprising, yet beautiful shift in paradigm— we now spend most of our time at home.

It is interesting to look back and see that our journey has been preparing us for such a time as this.  Except for “essential” and thought-out, purposeful reasons for being out and about, we are already used to being home.  Home is the core of all our activity and the place we most long to be.  I find an enormous sense of peace in knowing my little family and I are all together, safe, inside the walls of our home, and to tell you the truth, I don’t miss one bit of the fast lane hustle and bustle.  For years, I craved this sense of calm.  It has already become our norm, so I can honestly say that little has changed for us during this time of lockdown.

I am not in any way diminishing the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.  My heart goes out to every person who is ill, has lost a loved one or their job, or been otherwise adversely affected by all that is happening.  Standing on the other side of all my family and I have walked through, I just want to point out that positive change and good things are happening, too.  Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, "in the day of adversity consider."  Here are some things to consider during these times:

1. Social distancing from others is revealing how socially distant we have become from God and the people we love most. Being forced to stay inside is presenting an amazing opportunity to spend more time in Bible reading and prayer.  Staying indoors with our families is giving space for reconciliation and restoration of fractured relationships.  Families are staying inside their homes—together.  For the life of me, I cannot find one negative in that.  We have been handed a precious gift in the form of time and limited options on how to spend it.  It warms my heart to drive down our street and see a family in their yard playing together, couples walking hand in hand on the trail behind our home, and children standing in line (at a safe distance, of course) outside the ice cream truck that comes through our neighborhood each evening.  It reminds me of my childhood when life was a whole lot simpler and easier to navigate.  Home is our personal haven.  No matter what is going on in the outside world, we can close the door at home and realize that we are right where we are supposed to be.  Though we are “sheltering at home” mandatorily, maybe we should consider making “home-sheltering” a voluntary way of living and spending more time there when this is all over.  There truly is no place like home.

2. When my husband’s 35-year career in banking was brought to a screeching halt, he came to realize he never enjoyed that kind of work, and he began to open his mind to new possibilities.  He was eventually offered an amazing opportunity to do something he can physically handle, and he is now settled into a meaningful job he really loves.  If you have lost your job, I feel your pain.  I know how the threat of homelessness feels.  I am keenly aware of the panic of looking into an empty freezer.  But a beautiful new life is hiding behind the loss of your job.  Something better is coming to you.  Be aware and watchful.  One day you will find purpose in today’s pain.  There is a reason for this and sometimes the only way out of a rut is to be pushed.  Embrace the possibilities ahead of you.  You were not meant to keep doing what you were doing, and brighter days are coming.

3. Maybe “normal” shouldn’t be normal anymore.  Maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to get back to it.  Maybe you are not meant to stay so busy.  Perhaps tucked into this whole worldwide shutdown is this lesson screaming to be taught – you are not designed to run through life.  You are intended to slowly and methodically walk out your days in a state of peace.  Take a deep breath and instead of fighting against this time of stillness, embrace what it may be trying to reveal to you.  Spend this time reassessing your priorities.  What is most important to you now?  Perhaps it is time to start saying no to commitments and obligations that are no longer serving you and your family’s best interests.  Maybe you need to shed relationships that have become toxic.  Make two lists — things you are involved in and people in your life.  As you write the lists, pay attention to how each entry on the list makes you feel as your hand jots it down.  What brings instant anxiety to you?  What brings a sense of calm?  There is no better time than the present to do this.  Stillness and quiet bring incredible clarity of vision.  Don’t waste this time complaining and wishing for the old “normal.”  Normal has been given a clean slate.  May it emerge from this crisis new and improved and what it should have been all along.

4. Make productive use of time indoors by minimizing, decluttering, and organizing.  Tackle those projects you’ve been putting off because you never had time for them.  Now you do!  Make a to-do list and try to cross off one task each day.

Continually search for the good.  It is happening – we just need to look for it.

12 comments:

  1. Dear Cheryl,
    Oh, yes, I am finding that He had already been preparing me for this season, purifying my heart through the days of chronic pain and illness, shedding layers of flesh. And at the same time, the purifying continues now even more. May I allow Him to have full access to my heart, letting go of more of my flesh here. Thank you so much for your beautiful encouragement for us on this pathway. Blessings to you dear friend!

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    1. Oh, bless your heart, dear Bettie! I am so touched by your sweet, gentle spirit in the midst of your pain. I trust the Lord will lay His healing hands upon you and see you through the upcoming tests and procedures. I am praying for you and send much love to you today!

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  2. Thank you sweet friend for sharing these highlights of sheltering in place. I love the idea of writing down two lists to determine what brings you anxiety and what brings a sense of calm.

    I have realized during this pandemic how much time I was wasting prior to when it came to my home; the lack of attention I was putting into it. I also realized that I wasn't giving 120% to my ministry, but rather squeezing it in where I could while outside things always got in the way.

    This perspective shift is one that I hope I carry with me even when things start opening up and that I "don't grow weary of doing good", but continue to make my home and ministry a priority and only if I have time for other things, partake in those - not the other way around.

    I can always find a good word here. You are so valued and loved.

    Sending you much love and gratitude.

    Karen

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    1. Thank you ever so much for your precious words of encouragement, dear friend. I am sending much love and gratitude back to you today!

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  3. I agree so much with what you say here Cheryl. I am learning lessons during this time as well which I hope to carry forward. I would love to get rid of 90% of my possessions sometimes! I thought I had done a really good decluttering over the past 5 years or so but I am going through things again and still see so much stuff that is unnecessary. Lots of mental clutter too. This is the time to spend extra time with the Lord and see what He wants, that we've been too busy or preoccupied to see. Thank you always for your encouragement. xo Deborah

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    1. Aw, thank you so much, Deborah! I know what you mean - we are on another minimizing mission, and would you believe we are still finding so much excess? I love the thoughts you shared and thank you so much for your visit! Many blessings and much love to you!

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  4. I'm a little late to the party, but this, right here, struck me as so unbelievably true, friend --> 'Maybe “normal” shouldn’t be normal anymore. Maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to get back to it.'

    There's much food for thought in these two lines. Let's be careful not to long too much for the good old days when God might be inviting us to something deeper and stronger.

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you, my friend! Your encouragement and support means so much to me!

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  5. This is just a beautiful article. I will be rereading this again and again.

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    1. God bless you, Debbie! I am so grateful for your kind, encouraging words!

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  6. I find great encouragement in what you have shared. Like your family, we have been called apart to focus carefully on home, family and the Lord. Slowly and piece by piece the Lord has called us to "come out from among them and be separate". This has brought a tremendous amount of peace and rest, but it is a very different walk from the majority of our friends and family. At times we have felt lonely and misunderstood. Jesus keeps reminding us that we are on His path and not to fear or leave the path He has called us to.

    I recently saw a beautiful picture of what the Lord is seeking to accomplish during this time of social distancing.

    My husband and I were taking a quiet drive on a dirt road recently. We were slowly driving past a beautiful meadow filled with grazing cows and their babies. We noticed a mini van parked on the side of the road. Next to it, sitting on a blanket on the ground was a young mother and her little toddler son sharing a picnic together and watching the cows and calves while they ate. Tears came to my eyes as we drive slowly by and waved at them. It touched my heart to see this mama sharing this moment with her son.

    We've lost our life in the living in this busy materialist world.

    I pray mothers and fathers find their way back home during this God given time of being under lockdown.

    God bless you as you continue to share the call of letting go of the emptiness of things to embrace the things the Lord deems essential and valuable.

    Hugs from Shirley

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    1. Oh, Shirley! I am so sorry I am just now responding to your sweet comment! It was such a blessing to me, and I thought I had responded and just saw that I failed to do that. I was so blessed by all you shared and love the story of the mother and son having a picnic. So precious! Thank you so much for sharing with me, and it was like reading it for the first time today. Maybe God knew I would need it today and wanted me to re-read it. Sending love and hugs your way, sweet friend!

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