Last December I visited the dentist. The dental hygienist was making conversation and casually asked me if I had my Christmas shopping done. It was, of course, a harmless question that I’m sure she asked every patient in December, but I found my mind racing. Suddenly the lamp above my head felt like an interrogation light. What do I tell her? Will she think I’m a weirdo if I admit to making homemade soap for everyone and only giving our children a handful of practical gifts? Will she think I’m a terrible mother if I share that I only bought my kids one small toy? That I am attempting to purposefully limit the amount of shiny new items that enter my home? I realized at that moment that it takes courage to intentionally live small.
Courage is necessary to buck social norms and practice contentment with less. It takes courage to live against the roar of culture’s cries for accumulating more stuff and living faster lives. It takes courage because when people realize you live differently, they sometimes treat you differently. When people treat you differently, you can feel alienated and judged. It’s uncomfortable. If you’re not careful to cultivate truth in your mind, your heads can get wrapped up in fears about being counter-cultural.
It takes courage to live against the roar of culture’s cries for accumulating more stuff and living faster lives.
The thoughts running through my head in the dentist chair were fears, plain and simple. Fear of not fitting in. Fear of being disliked. Fear of awkwardly shutting down a conversation. Fear lingers like a fog, prying with vapor fingers to find a way into the mind so it can implant lies of our culture:
“Your kids would be happier if you gave them more.”
“You’ll ruin their special day.”
“Your family is so awkward and odd.”
Lies. (Well, that last one is debatable… But as I’ve learned this year, AWKWARDNESS IS NOT A SIN.) 😉
Fear feeds on lies. It takes a warrior-boldness to combat fear with truth. Some days I must actively remind myself why we choose to live with the priorities we do:
“Giving kids too much stuff only minimizes–not maximizes– thankfulness.”
“Mere happiness is not our ultimate goal for our children. Being grateful, well-adjusted, hard-working, compassionate adults are ultimate goals, and we believe that intentionally living with less is one way to encourage those traits.”
“We can make their holidays/birthdays special in other ways besides piles of overwhelming gifts. If they desperately want something else, they can work to buy it with their own money.”
Combat fear with truth
Sometimes I need to give myself a pep-talk about why we choose to intentionally live small. But I always need to train my mind to think about truth alone. That’s an ongoing habit. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:8. It says,
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Right at the beginning the verse says dwell on what is TRUE. Intentionally choosing truth over lies is one thing that enables me to intentionally live small with courage.
The funny thing about me living courageously is that I’m not a naturally courageous person. I’m not bold or fearless. In fact, as a child I was scared of nearly everything. God implanted a new boldness in my soul right before we moved to the Shoebox, now several years ago. Our downsize to the tiny apartment before our first child was born was the beginning of our counter-cultural journey, and God equipped me with the courage I would need to follow this path of living small. I’m so grateful He did.
Rejecting culture’s norms takes courage because the very act of nonconformity invites scrutiny.
It is a bold act to admit that your home and lives are choking on excess.
It takes courage to follow through and purge items which may have a perceived hold over you.
It is brave to leave a whole day blank on your calendar to celebrate life’s white space and not feel guilty for not being busy.
Friends, this intentionally living small thing that you’re doing? It. Is. Bold. It is counter-cultural. It takes stepping in faith, confronting fear and clinging to truth.
Living small is living brave. In whichever way you are embracing less, in however small steps you are taking to combat excess, you are fighting fear.
Stand tall, dear friends. I am so grateful that we aren’t walking this road alone. Thanks for being courageous with us. 🙂
As always, if this post encourages you, feel free to share it with friends. You never know who else might need to know they are being brave. 😉
…By the way… if you’re someone that struggles with being fearful and want freedom and an unlocking of courage, look into the new book Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie. 🙂 You can also learn more about Kelly and her story of at Purposefulfaith.com. This post has been on my heart for awhile, but it just happens to fit with the content of the Fear Fighting Writers link up, so if you want to read more stories about other women fear fighting, click here. 🙂