Monday, October 19, 2015

Living Light...

Downsizing is trending these days. Or, maybe I’m more aware of it because we are doing it. Either way it’s been life-changing for me.

My husband and I, recently empty nesters, sold our home, radically reduced our belongings, and are renting a rustic 1930’s cottage for nine months as we pause and figure out what’s next.

Living in a home for more than 17 years, raising three rowdy boys, accumulating all sorts of outdoor and sports equipment, school projects, trophies, ribbons, Christmas decorations, Legos, special rocks, walking sticks, plus much more, made downsizing a huge project. Our home was overflowing with stuff. Stuff we didn’t want and our boys didn’t desire to keep. It was time to let many possessions go. We sorted our belongings into different categories: sell, give, trash and keep. (We kept only the items we loved and put those in a storage locker.) This process of shedding unnecessary objects felt sad at times, but much more often I felt relief.

After the final item was placed in storage, I watched my husband pull down the heavy metal door and lock it.  At that moment, I felt a lightness I hadn’t felt in a long time. All the stuff we had and didn’t need was gone and the important items we wanted to keep were stowed safely away.

We were free.

We got into our car with two suitcases of clothes, our computers, our bikes and our yellow lab. We drove from Colorado to California and back with lots of spontaneous stops along the way. I felt similar to when we first married, 29 years ago, and didn’t have all the possessions, responsibilities and burdens I picked up as life evolved.

Prior to embarking on our road trip, I found a book called Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Meant to Bear by Max Lucado. This was not a coincidence. It came into my hands at the appropriate time. (Although I wish I had read it sooner.) The author writes about the promises in Psalm 23. The Psalm you usually hear at funerals,  “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” But this Psalm provides wisdom so relevant to LIFE, especially my life at this moment. Lucado writes about each verse in the Psalm and relates it to the emotional baggage, or burdens, we pick up and carry and how to release them into the care of the Lord.

This process of downsizing, simplifying and traveling with as little as possible, created a challenge for me to tackle a more important task. I needed to release the burdens, emotional baggage, attitudes, beliefs and responsibilities I’ve been unnecessarily carrying. I wanted to live light; free from the heavy loads I’ve allowed life to strap around my neck. The burdens God promises to carry if I would cast them onto him. When I think of casting something I visualize holding it in my two hands, raising my arms up and over my head, and throwing that burden as hard and far as possible into the big, strong hands of the Lord, who cheerfully catches them and carries them for me.

Some of the burdens I’ve been carrying for years, heavy burdens that have caused me to become unbalanced in my life, are self-reliance, worry, fear, and disappointment (to name a few.) During our road trip I began releasing these burdens to the Lord. I continued to experience a sense of lightness and freedom as I practiced throwing off my cares. I found myself tempted to pick them up and carry them again, so I know this will not change over night, but I’m on the right road to more carefree living.

When we returned from our road trip we moved into our little rustic, quirky, 1930’s cottage. Did I mention it has not been updated? The large screened porch with antique furniture overlooks the pine trees and city lights. Sounds of crickets are the music we hear most. The window ledges are dusty. Pictures hang crooked throughout the cottage. The shower is similar to one you’d find in a camper, and the walls are so thin you can whisper through them. This is radically different than the modern home we sold, but I love it. It’s another reminder of how simple life can be lived and how refreshing it is to live without clutter all around you or in your head.

For now, this is our safe, happy, carefree space. This cozy cottage is the perfect transition for me to a more meaningful life. A life of less. I feel freer to focus on what really matters: relationships, rest, peace, gratitude, giving and ultimately living light for the rest of my life… wherever that may be.

Jeannie is a wife and mother to three boys. She’s authored three books, contributed content to more than 20 books, and written articles for a variety of magazines. She loves her family, chocolate, scuba diving and salt. She also loves hearing others stories and believes we need to be real to experience real community. 

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