Live simply…

….so others may simply live.

You’ve probably heard that statement before. If not, I think it’s a good one to know 😉

This year is an exercise in learning to live simply, among many other things!

What does that mean practically for us?

  • Our house gets $15/person/week for food.
  • Several of us ride public transportation to work
  • We each get $100/month stipends… and we’re challenged to live off of only that, regardless of access to outside resources. This is for toiletries, weekend fun, hobbies, personal transportation needs, etc.
  • many other small things that is more of a mindset than a checklist!

But why live simply?!

Because we’re trying to be good stewards of God’s creation… of all His gifts! As you’ll remember from my Amate tenets post, I shared that a big part of the Amate experience is learning about stewardship. Amate House depends entirely on donations, so it would be wrong and unwise to live in a way that does not respect the donations we are dependent upon.

A broader reason though, is that living simply is a way to show our respect for the human family- both in a broad sense of the phrase, and in the narrow sense of those right near and with us. Our world is teeming with inequality. Some live in lavish wealth, while others die of starvation and malnutrition. Being mindful of that massive inequality calls us to live in a simple, intentional manner.

Similarly, living simply helps us to live in solidarity with the neighborhood we live in, where such a high percentage are immigrants living below the poverty line.  It is a privilege to choose to live on a limited budget when so many must live on a tight tight budget. And by doing so, we begin to understand how it feels to have to make choices based on that limited resources.

Also, living simply is soooo freeing on a personal level.  It’s entirely counterintuitive to what society tells us. “Buy more and you’ll be happier” says our consumeristic mentality. False. Living simply liberates us from that lie. Living simply really means living with more– more time and experiences and relationships and gratitude and love.

Random “fruit” I see from living more simply:

  •  “Gifts” mean so much more! Say someone says to me, “I’ll buy that coffee for you.” Prior to this year, I would feel so much worse (because I have a guilt complex ;)), because I knew I could pay for it. But I didn’t quite internalize what a gift it was to have someone offer that.   But now, when that coffee is 3% of my stipend, it means the world to me if someone offers that! [PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t read this as a plea for money/coffee/gifts/anything. This is me being honest about this tenet and how it’s affected me personally. It is not a plea for anything because 1. I have everything I need and there are plenty of worthy causes/people that don’t and 2. that would be contrary to simple living 😉  Okay, just had to make that clear since I’m awkwardly talking about money and I feel like that’s a no-no].
  • On the coffee note, I’m not tempted by coffee shops as much! Not having the “freedom” to stop in coffee shops downtown was one of the main things I missed trying to live off the stipend at first. Now… I feel considerably more “free” because I’m 86% less tempted by them now. And I still have my $3 and I have my travel coffee mug from home.
  • FREE means so much more now. As in free food, free samples (well, those have always been happy), free (useful) items, etc.
  • I’m beginning to understand the meaning of living in solidarity with those who have less.

And I must close with a sidenote: I feel like a fraud for even writing this. I have so far to go in living more simply, our community can of course always improve in this endeavor, and most significantly, I have everything I need/want, and my life live feels so full right now, that it doesn’t feel like the austerity that “simple living” implies. It feels like ABUNDANT LIFE. But I guess that’s has little do to with materially living with less, and a lot to do with filling  my life with more Love 😉

Happy Fall, friends!!  May we all learn to live with less so we can ultimately live with more 😀

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4 thoughts on “Live simply…

  1. Such a great post, Melissa. Living simply actually means living abundantly in less tangible ways – and those are the ways that lead to inner peace. Pray that I remember that in these coming months while I finish this grant application!

  2. Other fruits…
    – Not only does it change the way you look at gifts you receive, but also those you give! Gifting while living simply can challenge you to be creative to give of yourself in new ways.

    – When undertaken in community, living simply can help you form solidarity not only with the economically poor, but also with your community as well. Plus, you find lots of creative, free ways to enjoy each other’s company.

    – You realize that having ants in the peanut butter doesn’t really mean you have to buy new peanut butter– they’re just more protein, right? 😉

  3. Wonderful additions Anna! Thanks for sharing and reminding! All very very true. And I don’t think we’ll ever quite live down the peanut butter adventure 😉

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