This past month has been very eye opening in my quest for minimalism. One of the biggest things throughout this journey has been defining what minimalism is to me. So speaking of defining, let me define what I mean by “Traditional Minimalism”.
Traditional Minimalists — those who try to pair down their items to as few things as possible including items of sentimental value; common themes exist such as the “100 Thing Challenge”; seeking to obtain simplicity through shunning materialism
Off the bat, it would seem that I am trying to accomplish the same things, but I would strongly disagree by arguing that there is a foundation difference between Traditional Minimalist ™ and Christian Minimalists (CM). I’ve written about this before in my post “Not Your Average Minimalist”, so I don’t want to rehash everything. But to sum it up, TM is focused on self satisfaction while CM is focused on God and getting satisfaction through serving Him.f
The reason I say TMs live in a bubble is because the experiences I’ve had this past month has led me to realize that I will never be able to obtain that lifestyle and accomplish certain goals. For example, I’ve been in the process of moving out, and one of the big reasons is so I can exercise hospitality. There is no way I can expect to have people over if I only own 100 things. I need kitchenware for cooking and serving, and I need furniture because not everyone I’ll have over is young like me and can sit comfortably on the floor. Those are just a few examples.
Also, for those of you who aren’t aware despite the number of posts preceding this one, I’m currently in Kenya. I’ll be here a month and this is a look at what I packed. I feel my packing list was well researched and I did not overpack in the slightest. Everything I brought has been critically useful, and on the flip side I feel there is nothing I don’t have that I wish I had taken.
That being said, many of the things I packed were bought specifically for this trip and are not things that would be used on a regular basis (if at all) in America. So, my list plus the other things I have at home exceed 100 things, but there’s no way around that. Sure, I may not be able to just pick up and everything, put it in a backpack, and move whenever I want. But at the same time, I enjoy a bit of stability/establishment and I have the ability to do things that someone with 100 things couldn’t do.
Maybe I can’t put all my belongings in a backpack, but I’m still in a position to get up and move anywhere just as quickly (living in Kenya is a good example of that with only 3wk notice). I also have the means to live anywhere in a world with items such as solar chargers, water purifiers, and the such. A TM couldn’t do that.
Do you see the irony? TMs attempt to live simpler lives and by so doing live more freely, but really they’re limiting themselves in what they can do. I live with a little more and my possibilities are endless.
I really believe that the focus shouldn’t be on how many things a person has, but really on the value that is placed on possessions. You’re going to hear me harp on being content rather than trying to obtain a specific goal because things change in life, and we can’t always keep the same objective. I’m going to have to have more stuff when I get married and have kids, and though I will try to live minimally, I don’t want that to be the message I convey to my kids. I want them to hear that in whatever situation they are to be content (Phil 4:11).
That’s why the baby boomers coming out of families who were in the great depression are so materialistic. And now my generation is the by product of those materialistic families, and we many of us have swung to the other side of being minimalists, and if we’re not careful to teach the right principle, our kids will swing back to the other side of materialism.
I don’t want to be a TM like Everett Bogue or Leo Babauta. I want to be a CM that follows biblical principles that are balanced and have the right motivation. Because Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), not simplicity.