As I grew into a teenager, a lot of the wonder of my mom's way of life began to lose its appeal. I saw how hard she worked to own all the things she wanted. I saw how much time it took to clean silver, and wool, and delicate hand-painted porcelain. And I started to feel that I wanted to spend my life doing other things with my time.
My first experience with what I now know is called a minimalist lifestyle, was when I nannied for a toddler whose parents were missionaries. They slept on mattresses on the floor, had only one bowl, one cup, and a set of silverware for each person in the family, and they bought rice and beans in bulk. But their home was full of pictures and pinned maps of all the places they had been. Their fridge was a giant collage of notes and letters from friends all around the world. And best of all their job was sharing the joy of Jesus with people in desolate places.
I was hooked. Their way of life struck a chord with me. Up until this point, I had done very little traveling and had only a couple of friends. The idea of living more simply so I could live life more fully was new and exhilarating. So I went about putting it into practice.
I was a good student and had merited a full scholarship to any college in the southeast, so I chose a Bible college. I wanted to learn how to share my love for the Lord anywhere I went. I bought a tiny but gas-efficient car in cash. A bought the cheapest flip-phone I could find. And I traveled--missions trips, conferences, and camping trips in Texas, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, the Dominican Republic...anywhere my part-time college job could afford me to go. I made new friends and learned new things and most of all I grew up. I matured and got a better understanding of the evils and wonders of the world.
I will forever be grateful that my mom gave me such a beautiful home to grow up in, especially because she did so as a single parent. I'm especially glad she taught me to take pride in and take care of my belongings and the belongings of others. And I'm happy to have learned the value of working for everything I want.
But the minimalist lifestyle that I had a taste of as a teenager has stayed with me. I am rekindling my passion for it. I'm working toward giving the gift of myself to people--my presence, my listening ear, my support, my encouragement, and my time--instead of gifting things. I'm investing time and money into things I want to do: classes, books, crafts, and taking care of my body and my mind, instead of looking for that next basket or throw rug at the store. And it's been so freeing to enjoy the things I love with the people I love. I am still surrounding myself with beautiful things, they are just in the form of memories and experiences shared.