Friday, July 26, 2013
You Don't Need More Stuff
Too many of us have had a poor education in the art and joy of frugality. When we hear the word “frugal” we cringe at the impressions of shabbiness and self-denial the word has always implied for us. I am fighting that mindset in myself, because I know it isn’t true. I love beautiful things, and want my home, wardrobe, and appearance to reflect my sense of style. But that doesn’t mean I have to meet up to some Martha Stewart Living standard or ride a LOOKBOOK trend wave.
“You need more stuff.” This is the lie we tell ourselves whenever we feel unsatisfied with our lives, when we are tired, or when our neighbors appear to be flourishing beyond our level. We compare ourselves and endlessly strive to fit a mold made by man.
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10, ESV)
Such a simple truth, and yet it is so powerful. I really need to meditate on these verses when I am tempted to crave more material; more clothes, more products, more of the “new,” more to distinguish me as ahead of the curve.
But what is life really for? To have “more”? To surpass my neighbor? What an endless, tiring march into spiritual ruin. But I want my life to be an expression of deep thankfulness to God for His goodness, a testimony of His love to others, and a reflection of the true beauty of His created world.
My frugality then, is not a default mode in which I must function during a season of financial scarcity, but the principle I will continue to live by during seasons of plenty. I find the truest and most satisfying expression of my aesthetic needs in this: to use what I have to its fullest potential, creating things of beauty that I might have otherwise overlooked, and never allowing myself to think I “need” anything beyond what I already have.
I will cook creatively with food that’s in season.
I will use the clothes I have and not replace them until they are used up. I’ll wear the pieces I love and donate the rest.
I will create décor from things I already have and make the best of the small, shabby kitchen of my 1980s-furbished apartment.
I will walk or bike instead of drive when the distance is short.
I will borrow books and movies from the library.
I will buy used instead of new when possible.
I will become a better seamstress and get creative.
I will draw and paint my own artworks.
I will grow herbs and vegetables.
I will make my own granola.
I will can.
I will eat leftovers.
I will love every minute of it.