My journey of living a less is more life started in 2017 when I sense the increasing murmur of my soul that it-needs-space. I just felt this urge to wanna back off, retreat from the noise of the world: the constant notifications of text messages, 360-degree life demands, the taunting comparison of life and beauty from carefully-curated photos on Instagram, the unending new arrivals from those fast fashion behemoths; even—church.
All the things that used to command my attention—like moths to light—started to repel me.
When my world spun out of control two years ago—the noise of our world’s more! bigger! better! faster! added to my chaos, crowding me in. I desperately needed stability, so I ran to God, the One who’s unchanging and certain. The Anchor in this rough sea of life.
In wanting God; I craved for more solitude and silence. I just felt like pushing the noises away. Instinctively, I started on a decluttering and simplifying mission to purge all that is taking up space in my heart, to reduce the external noises to help increase the internal silence of my heart. And enlarge my space for God.
Things I’ve decluttered (in no particular order)
Social media (not surprising, yes?)
I’ve been fidgeting with the purpose of my personal social media accounts for a few years. Finally, I’ve taken action on my conclusion that it’s not doing me or people on my friends and followers list any good. I deactivated both my Facebook and Instagram accounts. One step short from deleting them, zapped.
I learnt to mute all group notifications as chats can turn quite crazy and distracting. And I try as much as possible to not glue the phone to my hand. This helped to retrain my phone-checking habit. It’s ridiculous how phone notifications have tamed man to be so obedient in instantaneously responding to any dings and beeps.
After a few anxious tries (of thinking the world would crash without me), I can now easily put my phone on airplane mode or simply be temporarily unreachable when I don’t have to, with ease. After all, the people who need to contact me in matters of real urgency know who else to call to reach me. Those of us who use our phone app to read the Bible might relate to the distractions from the notifications while reading the Bible and listening to His words. Imagine a real-life date when you are talking to someone and that someone keeps checking their phone.
Put away the phone
As you can see, all the above are related to smartphone usage. Well, the phone might be smart, but the user behaviour is certainly not. The often neck-tilting, head-bowing (ah, worshipping thy phone, are we?), thumbs tapping and people-excluding habit gotta go.
I tasted the freedom of not having to do anything with my phone when I spent four days at The Nest, Maxwell Hill in Taiping (a gorgeous, secluded bungalow lovingly tended by a couple). I didn’t know there is no internet reception there. But, I was glad. Those four days in 2018 were one of the best days of the year where my attention wasn’t scattered.
I was hooked to having such a peaceful focus so I applied this new practice to my daily life—putting aside the phone while I focus on my work, task, or people in front of me. I get so much more quality work done in a day with less tiredness, that’s what I can tell you.
I’m never a big shopper and wouldn’t call my wardrobe as excessive, compared to the norm, I think. But I know I regularly wear only 20% of what’s in my wardrobe. The rest of the 80% are taking up space, both physical wardrobe space, and mind space. To make a decision on what to wear, I need to always go through 80% of clothes I don’t wear anyway. So, I gave away 80% of my clothes, some of which I hung on because it’s so pretty (but I don’t wear certain styles of clothes anymore). I only kept the 20 % that can I easily mix and match and feel comfortable and confident in. You’ll be amazed the relieve of not having to make these outfit-matching decisions daily.
Stuff at home
Hubs and I gave away more than 60% of our stuff at home. Stuff we kept for just-in-case situations and keepsakes. The chosen ones (hee hee) were things we know we’d often use. Though we gave away stuff, we also bought new stuff to accommodate our desires of having people coming over our home for meals. So we bought more cutleries, plates, and even a TV to run Alpha, Prayer Course or The Marriage Course. Ya, we didn’t have a TV for years.
Contents about life, growing in my faith, etc. might be good, but may not be the best for me. Too many articles, how-to this, 5 ways that, books, and podcasts. There’s a danger of skipping past what God is trying to tell me, to find quick answers to fix my problems. I wanna get the focus right with God as no one knows me as well as God does. Also, the overloading of content adds to the noise of daily life and takes up time too. So, nowadays, I am more intentional with the content I consume. That’s also one of the reasons I deactivated Facebook. Just too much stuff there.
I want God more in my life. And I often made the mistake of equating it to more Bible reading = more of God in my life. Or boxing God into any spiritual discipline = more of God in my life. I heard of people who went on spiritual retreats thinking because they have extended time (away from their work and chores), surely they will hear God more. But God doesn’t fall into our neat, little boxes. He often just wants us to like a kid, climb onto their father’s lap, and just be with Him. As simple as that.
So, I’m reminding myself to cease striving in this area. Case in point, after one of my Bible reading, I just couldn’t “get” anything to write in my devotion journal. Then, this voice in my head went, it’s ok. And this was my note instead of some deep, reflective thoughts:
Wanting God more in my life is great, but I gotta cease striving for it as if it’s something that I can achieve on my own.
I’m becoming more aware of the noises that can be in the church. Sometimes it gets so busy that at one point in time, I just felt so jaded of it all. I think what I’m trying to say is, I’m sifting through being a church and busy doing church. Huge difference.
With all these being decluttered, I’m finding myself to be more at peace and less distracted. Granted, I have loads more to declutter—those inner junk, that hidden grieve, that puffed-up pride. But I’m glad I’ve taken the first step and responded to the distress call of my soul to give her some quiet. And to continue this journey of simplifying to a less is more life with my Lord.
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