This idea of embracing simplicity started, for me, about 5 years ago…
I began noticing that when things didn’t go the way I hoped, I got frustrated. When something happened that I hadn’t planned on, I obsessed over it. I wanted things to be perfect and if they weren’t, I didn’t take the change very well.
Finally, one day, something happened that was just inconvenient. At first, it bothered me. I was annoyed but said to myself, “Eh…embrace it!” I was surprised at my attitude toward the situation but noticed that I had a new way of looking at life. I decided right then and there that I was going to embrace whatever came my way.
The word “simplicity” means so much to me. I strive to be simple and live simply. This concept of living simply was acted out to me by my mom.
Now, when we were kids, we called my mom a “penny pincher.” She was such a good saver but in our childish minds that just meant that she just didn’t like us to have fun. We wanted all the newest trinkets and clothes. With 5 kids, however, we just simply couldn’t afford it. We were not poor by any means. My mom just valued the more important things in life—staying at home with her kids, taking family vacations, having food on the table. Even though we felt like we didn’t have much, all of our needs were met.
Looking back now, I can see truly how much we had. Our Christmas tree was always overflowing with presents. My parents had sacrificed. Our lunch boxes were filled with healthy, yummy treats. My mom had shopped wisely. Our home was filled with laughter, Godly examples, and more love than we could have imagined. We were blessed.
When Ryan and I got married, we had a decision to make. Were we going to live to work to be able to have stuff? Or were we going to live with less to save more so that we could spend it on making memories? Thankfully, we both agreed that we would embrace simplicity in our lives.
I say “embrace simplicity” because it is not just about making sacrifices every once in a while. It is more than that. We embrace simplicity every day. We make big choices on how we are going to live and what we are going to have. We choose to have less.
In the beginning of our marriage, we talked about what we valued having most in our lives. We made a list so that we could accomplish our goal of embracing simplicity. These answers will be different for everyone, but this is what we chose:
- Saving– We are constantly keeping track of how much savings we have. We are not trying to save so that we have tons of money. Instead, we want to have money for emergencies and for family needs.
- Being a stay-at-home mom– Even though we did not have kids at the time, we both desired this for our family. Because our mothers stayed home with us when we were young, it meant a lot to us. We wanted to sacrifice to make that possible.
- Living without unnecessary luxuries– This one is very different for each family. For us, a second car was not necessary so we chose not to have one. At times, it can be inconvenient but it is something we value so we work with it. One of our biggest decisions is to live without cable. This is much harder for Ryan but he has chosen to sacrifice. We believe that, for our family, it is the best decision. In the first year, we chose to live without internet (oh the horrors!) and even shared a junky little cell phone. The reason was to get a head start on savings that first year. We now have internet and smart phones!
- Not accumulating a lot of stuff– We never want to have a storage unit or stuff lying around that we don’t use or need. Instead of buying things on a whim, we talk about each purchase and decide if it is necessary and if we can honestly afford it. If something is not being used anymore, we get rid of it.
- Taking trips instead of buying stuff– Since our birthdays are two days apart, we decided that we would rather take a fun family trip than give each other presents. With having babies around that time, we haven’t followed through yet on this one, but we hope to soon!
- Giving to others in need– When Ryan was a youth pastor, we saw people in need all the time. We knew that we really did not make enough money to be able to give very much, so, we decided to live with less to be able to give more. It is our desire that our wants would never go before someone else’s needs.
Embracing simplicity is all about choosing to live a simple life. We choose to have less because we value what that gives to us. Don’t get me wrong, we have more than we need. All of our needs are taken care of and Ryan makes more than enough money to provide for our family. But we strive each day to make decisions that help in our goal of living simple lives and embracing it!
What are some goals you set for your life? Have you ever thought about living with less? What holds you back? What encourages you to live simply?