{Stuffed}

I kind of hated signing the lease at first.

The apartment we will live in for the next year in Milwaukee is kind of a downgrade from what we have now: less space, less cabinets and closets, less natural light. I mean, who knew the things I would take for granted the past two years would be a large sliding glass door and a 4x8 balcony?

But yeah, kind of a downgrade. And I kind of hate admitting I feel that way.

Because what you might not know about me is that I’m kind of a minimalist. 

I’m somewhere a lot lower on the spectrum than “We Have One Pair of Shoes that We All Share,” and somewhere a lot higher than “We Keep Hundreds of Throw Pillows On Our Beds and Couches.” But when we moved into our current two-bedroom apartment in the south side of Chicago, I was adamant about my “Rules For Our Stuff”:

1. We keep what we need.

2. Beyond that, we keep what we use if it fits in our cupboards and closets.

3. We get rid of something old when we buy something new.

4. Every month we look through our closets, cupboards, and toy bins to see what we can throw or give away. {Goodness, the crap we so easily accumulate.}

As we stuck to these rules over the past two years, the only things in our extra storage unit downstairs have been a tricycle, our KanJam lawn game, and sometimes golf clubs, depending on the season. 

The goal of the rules to simply find contentment with what we need, which is often much less than what we actually have.

But now we’re actually moving to smaller, to less.

And as someone who gets a little giddy when she hears the word "minimalism," I'm supposed to like less, right? Isn't that supposed to be my mantra?

But I’m kind of feeling stretched thinking about being in a smaller, darker place, going through all these big changes, and with another child to care for. I’m having slight heart palpitations thinking about how even though we have simplified much of what we own, God is challenging me to see how we are still Stuffed. He is reminding me that so often what I think of as a “need” is still so much more than what we actually require to survive.

Our next apartment has enough space for all the people in our family to eat and sleep. It has enough space to invite a few friends around our table for food or games, or to relax on our couch with a bowl of ice cream. It has enough space to let Toddler run from room to room to burn energy like she does now. It even has enough parks and bike trails and grocery stores and restaurants and churches and the rest of downtown Milwaukee nearby for the rest of our needs. 

Our next apartment is enough, and I know that in many ways it is still more than enough.

So once again, God is providing me peace in a year of turbulence.

Because as I begin slowly packing, as I even break a few of my “Rules For Our Stuff” and put some boxes in storage while we house hunt next year, He keeps reminding me exactly why I like keeping our lives simple – the clothes in our closets, the toys in our toy bins, even the food in our cupboards and fridge.

He keeps reminding me of the freedom that comes with detachment to stuff, and why less often means more to me:

How less square footage means less time spent cleaning. Less toys means less clutter and time spent picking them up. Less clothes means less time spent indecisively standing in front of my closet each morning. Less food means less waste when we can’t eat it all in one week.

Less stuff in general means less tying us down each time in the past five years God said, Pack your bags and follow Me here.

But what’s more, beyond finding contentment in less, I’m also being forced to realize what has become an area of pride in my life.

You really like that label “Minimalist,” don’t you? To the point of pride, sometimes even to the point of legalism, don't you? Remember Child, if you boast, boast only in Me. Boast only in My power and glory and provision. Keep your eyes on Me, your heart on Me.

God has this wonderful, sometimes painful way of breaking down the areas of my life that become a source of personal pride, that become an idol. He finds what I have built up to be comfort zones and stretches me outside of them. He strips away the things that lure my eyes from Him and uses those exact things to help me grow.

So I pray for continued peace, for contentment.

I pray I won’t become so stuffed with anything - be it my possessions or my pride - that I become rendered useless from what He is trying to show me, teach me. I pray He will continue to stretch me, even make me uncomfortable, as long as it redirects my eyes towards Him.

I pray for daily reminders that all we have now and all we are headed to in the future is enoughMore than enough.

And I pray a huge "Thank you," because all these personal thoughts and inner turmoil aside, God provided us a place to live in Milwaukee next year! Praise Him, praise Him, for always providing enough.

 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

 

P.S. Are there things in your life that have become sources of personal pride for you? Comfort zones that you have built up? How has God challenged those idols or broken down those comfort zones to refocus your eyes on Him?