At first glance the concepts of minimalism and abundance seem opposite. Contradictory. Mutually exclusive. A discussion about an olive tree revealed to me how abundance and minimalism are actually connected—partners, even—in the forming of a truly meaningful life. Minimalism is the gateway to abundance of the most important sort.
Let me back up a minute. Lately a corner of my bedroom has bugged me. In this corner a shelf held a lamp, a few photos, a plant, board games (Dominion, anyone?!), and a simple box which served as a catch-all for wayward toys or books. I felt stressed every time I looked at the cluttered area. So I sold the shelf.
Then one afternoon when I was reading The Magnolia Journal, I saw a potted indoor olive tree and fell in love. I announced to Dan that I must have an olive tree in our bedroom because it was beautiful and because Joanna Gaines said it was a symbol of peace and abundance. He replied, “But we don’t want abundance. We are minimalists.” I laughed at his response but it got me thinking.
As minimalists we are opposed to unnecessary excess, but abundance is a completely different thing. The ideas of excess and abundance are similar, certainly, but abundance has an added gem in its definition: “overflowing fullness.” I dislike overflowing stuff, but overflowing fullness absolutely can be achieved by removing stuff. And it is wonderful.
I dislike overflowing stuff, but overflowing fullness absolutely can be achieved by removing stuff. And it is wonderful.
When we began the habit of removing material things which did not bless or serve us, we created space for true abundance. We created opportunity for overflowing fullness.
Let’s delve into three types of abundance that we enjoy as a result of embracing minimalism.
Our journey to intentionally living small and embracing minimalism was actually an answer to prayer. It began in 2010 when I asked God to increase my faith. God answered with a “yes”. We started a family with the gift of a redheaded boy and embarked on the gigantic task of downsizing. Stuff and the expectations I had for “the good life” started flying out the door, and as my comforts decreased my faith increased. The past several years have been wildly stretching and abundant in a spiritual sense. As we’ve relied less on material items for comfort and relied less on social constructs—the notion that a bigger house, better job, the coolest devices are necessary—my spiritual life has thrived. I’ve discovered spiritual heights that were buried under all the junk I thought I had to keep.
Testimonies of how minimalism has positively affected people’s spiritual lives are emerging every day, and to me it’s no wonder. In the Bible Jesus says, “…Be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Jesus’ point is this: when you’re storing up treasure in the form of material things, it’s dangerously easy to forget that real treasure is found in knowing God.
We downsized so that I could be a stay-at-home mom. The driving force behind us choosing to live small is so that we can do life abundantly together, as a family. Every day I have the time to build loving relationships with my children, and even more so now that we have started home educating. I get to support my husband, and we are intentional about carving out time to build on our marriage and friendship. Even beyond that, my friendships are richer in this season because I have the flexibility to meet with other mamas so that we can encourage one another. Intentionally living with less has provided a strong platform for all these relationships to thrive because I can spend less time on cleaning and less energy on worrying that my home isn’t perfect. (Which it’s not. 😉 Not even close!)
How we view creativity is often limited to the fine arts: music, poetry, painting, sculpture, dance. My expression of choice is words, but creativity for this season of life looks less like writing a blog post and more like building my own Lego vehicle alongside my boys. Finding the inspiration to type out an essay for the world wide web is a more demanding than, say, substituting ingredients in my favorite muffin recipe. I carve out moments of white space for each day for my soul to breathe, but many times the creativity that bubbles up out of that lovely emptiness finds an expression I didn’t anticipate. I sing while I hang laundry on the line. I doodle on my to-do list in rare moments of quiet. I invite opportunities to revel in my children’s creativity. I watercolor with dollar store brushes alongside my kids during craft time. All of these small expressions of creativity bring a delicious brightness to my day.
Minimalism’s purpose is to release unnecessary items to that the truly essential and lovely in life can shine through. When your possessions are too weighty, stuff management becomes a time thief, a peace thief, relationship thief, a creativity thief. Don’t let that happen.
Shedding unnecessary stuff and commitments will free up space in your life for abundance of the best kind.
Tell me about you. In what ways have you noticed an abundance in your life since embracing less on purpose? Comment below and tell us!