About a year ago, I took a hard look at the life I had established for myself. Growing up, I unconsciously believed that the things I possessed somehow matched the depths of God’s blessing on my life, which explained why I owned so many things. That may seem hard to believe, but let me elaborate further. In our culture and society, the more things we have, the more it appears how “blessed” we are. And if you took a look at my car, my wardrobe, my purses, my shoes…everything…you would have said, “That woman is DEFINITELY blessed.” It wasn’t until over a year ago that I realized that these things did not attest to my blessing. Rather, they demonstrated how cluttered and dysfunctional my life had become.
That’s when I came across the concept of minimalism. This term is not new, but it has exploded on the scene. It’s the idea that true happiness comes, not from the number of things we possess, but rather the joy and contentment we find in possessing less. Minimalism takes on various meanings for each individual, but for me as well as countless others, minimalism was the tool I needed to really discover how blessed I already was.
At the time when I began to evaluate my life, I considered the lengths I would go in order to purchase the latest trend. I had well over 1,000 clothing garments, over 200 pairs of shoes, and 40+ designer bags, each at least $200. (You do the math.) These material possessions satisfied my consumer thirst for a moment, but that feeling eventually fades. While I had a closet full of beautiful possessions, my bank account was low. My debt was high. My financial situation was in a crisis, but I simply could not figure out how to fix my life. Before I knew it, I began to despise the things I had. It was time for a change, but this change would not come easily.
I began to research some of the ways that people adjusted their lifestyle, including their spending habits. I found countless blogs, websites, and videos about minimalism, and something about it resonated with me. I saw how put-together these individuals were, and they had far less belongings than I had. I wanted that same thing, and I determined to get rid of everything that did not bring value or quality to my life.
Over the last year, I spent every day decluttering the piles of materials that I had accumulated over the years. I sold as many items as I could, but donated the bulk of my wardrobe. It was hard. At times, I thought I would have a panic attack because I remembered just how much I spent on each item. I felt like I had wasted so much money; but the more I gave, the more I felt liberated. I was no longer bound by the addiction of shopping. Unconsciously, I had broken a stronghold by simply choosing to make a lifestyle adjustment.
My family thought I had gone crazy. I was always the shopper, and it was nothing for me to wear a new outfit every week. In fact, my obsession went as far as to not wear the same outfit more than once. That’s how diverse my wardrobe was! But I continued to cut the clutter out of my life, which ultimately allowed me to be a blessing to others. I was able to give a significant portion of my wardrobe to a young single mother in my church. And to be honest, she looked so much better in my wardrobe than I did wearing it! It was at this moment that I realized just how blessed I was, not because I had a lot of things, but because I had more than enough to give to others. Moving in this direction was one of the best decision that I made because it ushered in a new attitude, a new mindset, a new lifestyle for me that I continue to share with others.
Today, I now only own one designer purse, four pairs of genuine leather shoes, and about forty clothing items, including coats. Every piece is made of great quality, and although I spent much more money on each item, I know that each one will last for years.
Creating this new lifestyle has now become a habit for me. I no longer shop for the latest trend. I am careful with the pieces I purchase. In addition, my attitude towards finances has changed. I am learning how to manage it more efficiently while living on a limited income. If I choose to make more money, it’s not so I can do more shopping, but so that I can properly and wisely invest in my future, my daughter’s future, and the future of someone else. This is what I have discovered as the true blessing of the Lord for my life. I am learning that the blessing is not proven in what I possess but rather what I am able to give to others. This is the greatest revelation that I have obtained from minimalism; and now I know what it means to live optimally with less stuff.