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If you've ever used Pinterest, then I'm sure you are vividly familiar with minimalism. For those who don't fully understand it, minimalism is a lifestyle that commits to living with less. The definition of minimalism is to live with intentionality and let go of anything that does not matter. The problem with modern minimalism is that it focuses on restrictions and the aesthetic of empty spaces. The biggest lie about minimalism is that it will make our lives more simple. So, what is simplicity and why don't we strive towards it rather than minimalism? The difference between the two can make a significant impact on our lives.
We can live with little, but we chase a lot. I believe the infatuation with minimalism comes from our realization that materialism is a dead end. When we have endless opportunities to collect items and superficial fulfillment, how do we ever reach the "peak?" We get to a point where we see that all of our stuff, whether physical or mental, is standing in the way of our satisfaction. I feel this constantly, and it is what led me to learn more about minimalism. Even when I strive to live in the moment, there are unavoidable responsibilities that take up space in my mind. So I thought, maybe I can eliminate my stuff from the list of things to consider. But the more I learned, the more I realized that minimalism often creates another superficial goal. We don't gain freedom from every item we throw away. We don't need to set a number of things we allow ourselves to own. What minimalism gets right is that our things are not the source of our joy. Even if we live with the bare minimum, we can feel as much contentment as someone with a yacht and six exotic cars. When we are happy to have what we need, we better appreciate the things we want.
"Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." - 1 Timothy 6:6-8
Where simplicity and minimalism differ is in how we enjoy life. The current trend of minimalism pushes a sense of accomplishment that causes identity to get tossed aside. While our identity is fully in Jesus, we still have our quirks and interests that make us unique in the world. We don't need to show our colors in superficial ways, but sometimes things do inspire us. God wants us to do everything with our eyes on Him and not for worldly goals, yet He also wants us to take pleasure from the experiences of His beautiful world.
Define what matters to you.If we don't need something, that doesn't mean it holds no value. I want to get rid of the junk that sits in my drawers for years, but I don't want my life to revolve around elimination. I have knick-knacks around my house that are useful because they bring smiles, and sometimes it's the necessities that actually end up unused when I keep them "just in case." To get rid of our clutter, we need to define what matters to us. When you look at what fills your home, your time, and your thoughts, is it worth the space it takes up? What isn't worth it? God doesn't want us to burn out; He wants us to live life to the fullest. When we embrace simplicity, we find joy in the little things and have fewer distractions from our calling.
"Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil - this is a gift of God." - Ecclesiastes 5:19
When we label ourselves as "minimalists," the connotations can become part of our identity, and we lose sight of the point. At the end of the day, we should find our peace in how we follow Jesus and help people meet Him. When we think we have to mold our lives around a certain mindset or club to change our habits, we lose track of our eternal motivation. Like a strict diet, minimalism can work in the short term, but real life-change happens through balance.
There may be times when you need to purge 90% of your belongings. (I did this with the dishes in my kitchen.) Minimalism is a tool we can use, but we need to keep the big picture in mind. You can live in an empty tiny house and still not have simplicity. We are whole in Jesus, and we don't need to chase after more. Let’s focus less on what we throw away, and more on how to put Him first. Through grace, we no longer have a void that draws in meaningless fillers. We let go of the security of earthly things when we trust in God and His promise for our future.
"Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." - Colossians 3:2
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.