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January 9, 2014

Two thousand fourteen is now 9 days old.  For 9 days I’ve been thinking about what my One Word would be.  I pretty much knew what the word would be from the moment I woke up on January 1.  I haven’t strayed from it once since.  I’ve pondered if I should make it into a more *positive* word, but have decided against it.


This year, I aim for less.  Christmas and its excess was particularly difficult for me this year–all the stuff, all the trimmings.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my presents and enjoyed buying things for me children, but really?  Do we need another 1,200 piece lego set?  Do I need another sweater or more books?  I felt overwhelmed by it all and was ready for a break.


My inbox is flooded with e-mails, 75% I care nothing about–advertisements from stores, letting me know which thing goes on sale when.  Out of curiosity I look at them and convince myself I really need 99¢ champagne flutes from World Market because they’re on sale, I don’t have any, and I like bubbly drinks.  I am pounded regularly, via the computer, of what I need to be enough.  It’s always more.


Of course, the books I’ve read lately have compounded this discomfort–it started with Adventures in Loving Your Neighbor by Margot Starbuck.   I didn’t expect to be challenged about less in that book, but there it was.  Once I got past the section about how I can value and respect those people around me who I barely notice, it talked about living with less–less cheap IKEA disposable items, less Target sale rack clothes, and less from the dollar bins.


Then I started Daring Greatly by the wonderful Brene Brown.  While this is not a book about living with less or about religion, it is about less–less shame in our lives, less hiding and seeking numbing activities, less worrying about whether or not others see us as enough.  She challenged to me to look at my numbing activities–those things that I use to escape when I am just too tired or overwhelmed or worn down to deal.  My big ones were food and internet, especially Facebook and blogs, endless searching for connections with someone somewhere.


Our book club book this month? 7:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  For seven months, Hatmaker focused on 7 things.  The first month she ate only 7 foods for the whole month.  The second month , she wore only 7 articles of clothing.  The third month, she found ways to donate some of her excess to real people who needed it (versus just dropping it off at Goodwill).  The fourth month, she shut off 7 forms of media.  I’m on month five, when she is incorporating 7 habits for a healthier (greener) life that uses less waste.  Needless to say, the whole book is one less.  While the first two chapters didn’t inspire me to make a lot of changes, other than contemplate what my 7 foods would be (beans, rice, kale, and eggs for starters.  Maybe mangos?) and realize I can let go of my newfound attempt to dress *trendy* (trendy being extremely relative, I’ve never been a fashionable person), the chapter on possessions and media made me think.  More than once in the past month, I’ve been frustrated with the conversations around screens with my kids.  There’s too much negotiating and pleading.  We throw (figuratively) an iPad at them so we can sleep later on the weekend or get a break when things are falling apart.  Media and screens are an excuse to avoid relationships.


I need so much less.  As I embrace less, I find more steeping in.  I color and do puzzles and talk to Isaac over lunch on his days at home with me, instead of sitting him in front of the TV so I can read my blogs.  I have mostly cut out TV–with the exception of Downton Abbey (and soon to be Sherlock) and I have more reading at night and more talking to Curtis.  I need to not watch a movie at home while I also surf on my iPad.  I will enjoy the movie more.  I eat less food, less sugar, less meat and find more energy and better health.  I spend less on the things I don’t need and can give more and spend more on things that directly effect the people who created it.  I numb my shame and my feelings less and I talk more to people, build more relationships, and become more human.


Less is more.  Less is being enough, as I am.  Less is making more space for people and relationships.  Less is being beloved and giving myself the ability to experience my belovedness.  Less is loving my neighbor more.  Less is doing Jesus’s great commandments better–Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.  If I am trying to be as good as my neighbor, if I am trying to make my body look better so I am more acceptable, if I am feeling like I need to justify my parenting skills, I am not loving my neighbor.  I end up judging my neighbor, to make myself feel better about my own weaknesses.


Less of those things that keep me from loving God more fully.  Less of those things that keep me from accepting my belovedness.  I am enough.  We are all enough.  We don’t need more.  We need less.

In yoga today, for a brief moment, I had less.  I had less worries and controlling and looking in the mirror (a great weakness of yoga–looking in the mirror to see how I am doing compared with others, especially the super fit other who was right in front of me today).  For one brief moment, I felt my belovedness.  I was in downward dog, praying Lord, have mercy on me a sinner, and I heard clearly, “you are enough.”  In that fleeting moment, I knew I was beloved by God.  I knew that in doing less, I needed to do more.  I knew I was enough and I could love others better, just as I am right now.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Melanie permalink
    January 9, 2014 7:35 pm

    Love this one…you inspire me to be LESS.😉


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