This Year’s Big Project

I remember so clearly the first steps Matt and I took into this house that we call home. It was 115 outside and the air felt heavy and my island girl lungs were adjusting to the higher altitude and unbearable heat. My skin had already developed a shade of pink that hinted of the sunburns to come. We move in our suitcases and between us, the air mattress, and the three suitcases this was it. We didn’t mind a bit though because we were overjoyed to simply be in a place to call our home. Our wedding gifts were being mailed to us and we would eagerly add the generous gifts to our home as we started to set up. But overall, things were pretty simple. Two plates. No furniture. One suitcase worth of clothes. I had downsized significantly for the move simply because I had to. I had to binge clean at school because two suitcases were all I had to move everything to Alaska to then move to California. It was refreshing and foreign to finally be situated somewhere that would be longer than a few months.

I have lived fairly lightly since my backpacking endeavor but as I looked at my home I felt a switch flip and I desired to fill it. My intentions were not necessarily evil. I wanted our home to be a place of fellowship. I need couches, I need dishes, I need a guest bed, I need more pillows, I need, I need, I need. Quickly I noticed my mindset change from minimalist who lives out of a backpack to let’s set up our home! I was excited and a dreamer. This house was going to be so homey!

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The only AC unit we had at the time was this old and slow unit in the dining room. It felt pretty cold if you were right up next to it but didn’t do much good otherwise. We slept in the dining room for a good two weeks and didn’t get a bed until about a month into our marriage. Still wouldn’t trade these moments for anything in the world though because I was sharing them with my best friend and husband.

Fortunately, I was able to back up a few steps before my life was control by materialism and consumerism. Matt and I were convicted about our desire to fill our life with stuff instead of Jesus. I realized the language of “I need this” concerned me as it never applied to my life spiritually but always was in a material context. Now I want to be careful to stress that there is nothing bad to setting up a home. I’m not writing to shame having a full dining set or boasting that Matt and I are holier for being a one-car family; the stuff itself means little. What I am concerned and convicted about is my heart attitude. Why do I fill my life with stuff? Often it’s pride, fear, or comfort. I’m not saying all purchases are evil but I am concerned that my heart, and many others, are filling our lives with things instead of Jesus.

While I was feeling this conviction I was simultaneously reading Radical by David Platt, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. All these authors are convicted by the same heart attitude and are making changes in their life to reflect a Jesus filled life instead of a stuff filled life. I don’t want to mindlessly be filling my discomfort, my fears, my anxieties, my insecurities, my boredom with stuff. I want to be filling it with caring for others, growing in Jesus, and looking beyond myself. To challenge myself, I am participating in the 7 challenge that Jen Hatmaker created in her book, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. Essentially from January to July, I will be mirroring her project and focusing on eliminating clutter from these aspects of my life:

  1. January- Media
  2. February- Waste
  3. March- Possessions
  4. April- Food
  5. May- Clothes
  6. June- Spending
  7. July- Stress

Hatmaker stresses the number 7 in her project because

“Perhaps this is the philosophy behind the biblical fasts of three days, seen days, and forty days in the Word. Maybe we need more than one day to push through the inauguration onto the business of communion. After the shine wears off, the real spiritual work begins”.

And that “real spiritual work” is what I’m desiring in my life. I’m not alone in this pursuit and I have my own council of women from around the country that will be holding me accountable, growing with me, and challenging me as well and that is a blessing to have as I face the next seven months of growing pains. This month I am abstaining from 7 types of media.

  • Amazon: I spend an incredible about of money and time on Amazon. I hope that by cutting this out I will do my shopping around people more and not be so disconnected. I also hope to eliminate random purchases I make to just fill wants.
  • Facebook: This is by far the most time consuming part use of my media. I am still using Messenger to communicate with people but I am abstaining from Facebook itself which for me leads to a lot of hours of mindless scrolling or comparing myself in a way that isn’t healthy. I hope by February I can use Facebook in a way that drives community and fosters friendship better.
  • Instagram: Similar to Facebook, I spend a lot of time here. I am interested to see what sort of motivation I have to post of Instagram because I feel like this may be a pride issue as well that I hope to grow from this month.
  • Netflix/Hulu: Oh Lordy Lou. I spend a lot of time streaming. Though like everything else this isn’t necessarily bad in itself, I am hoping to develop healthier habits and to not default to “what do you want to watch”.
  • Texting: I am trying to limit my texting and focus on when I text. I don’t want to be on my phone when I’m with others. I don’t want to be governed by text messages. When possible I hope to video call or give phone calls. However, I am still maintaining normal texting with my out of area friends and family. After all, this project is in part about building relationship.
  • Radio: On long drives I am allowing listening to the radio but on my commute to work I am not going to listen to the radio. I hope to dedicate this time instead to prayer.
  • Spotify: I always, always, always plug in my earbuds at the gym and this month I will be device free. Instead I hope to either pray or allow my mind to be inspired and creatively think or talk with my gym buddy if I have one for that day.

There will be exceptions and days I mess up. A month is a good chunk of time and this isn’t intended to become something legalistic and cut-throat. My hope from the next seven months is to grow. I hope to reset my mind and with these seven unique fasts, I believe there is room for incredible growth and heart change. Friends, I’ll be keeping you posted and welcome to “an experimental mutiny against excess”.

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