I’m taking a different approach to today’s Quest for a Happy Haven post. I’m sharing part of my story to finding true happiness through simplicity in my life. I am not in any way saying that my story is the standard all should follow to be in God’s will. Each of us have different callings, and this just happens to be mine for this season. I pray that you are encouraged and that you’ll share your own story so that others can be encouraged to say no to whatever distracts them from having a haven for their family.
I used to believe that being busy meant I was being productive. Working more hours in a day meant I was not only fighting off laziness but making a bigger difference in others’ lives.
Then one life choice started a chain of other decisions that have left me with no choice but to be still and say no. It’s because of all of these no’s, however, that I’ve begun to really appreciate the verse that says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
The original choice was to become a stay-at-home mom. My husband and I knew it would take sacrifice, but in those pre-baby, twinkly-eyed perceptions of what our future would look like, we had no idea that the sacrifice would mean more than giving up going out to eat whenever we felt the urge. Here are some of the things that distracted us from embracing a simple life.
Moving from two cars to one. Oh, how I took for granted the convenience that comes with being able to get into my car whenever I felt like it to head wherever I wanted to go. On the positive side, I also had no idea how much money I would save by learning to be resourceful and find entertainment in my back yard rather than coming across temptations for impulse purchases when we were able to drive around town. It’s also created a lifestyle that is oblivious to the deadline-driven world outside our four walls. (Insert contented sigh.)
Saying no to cable television. I used to believe that TV was the ultimate form of relaxation, but now I see how much richer and rewarding our nights are since we are a family that plays hide-and-seek, reads books, and laughs together. Movie nights complete with popcorn are special rather than expected, and it’s helped me know that saying “no” to something I didn’t want to give up has brought my family happiness.
Saying no to buying things I used to consider essential. As humbling as it has been for me to wear clothes that aren’t quite as stylish as I want them to be, to make myself put off a haircut, and reject my desire to try out coloring my hair, it’s made me a better person. I have not handled this area with patience and contentment each step of the way, but I’ve come to understand that I am so rich. In addition to a phenomenal, loving family, I’m blessed with a fully-furnished home, a stocked kitchen, and way more than one pair of shoes. Compared to countless people around the world, and even in my own country, I have so much more than they dream of having. I have learned to value inward beauty more than outward trends as I have the opportunity to hug my little guy who could care less what I’m wearing or how askew my ponytail is.
Saying no (for a season) to extravagant financial giving and saving. I didn’t want to accept this one, but I’ve learned that not having a large amount of income requires us to be resourceful. It requires us to slow down and find time to invest in people rather than stocks. I’ve become keenly aware of needs around me, even within my home, because I don’t have enough money to distract me from focusing on hearts. We look forward to the day when we are able to give more financially to those in need, and I am confident that day will come. In the meantime, as a family, we try to prioritize taking time to make other people’s lives brighter by showing Jesus to them in the little things, and we would have never realized how rewarding this was if we had not learned to take the time to notice. Now I have enough evidence to believe without question that extravagant giving does not always have to be financial, nor should it be.
Our list continues to grow as we face new challenges and decisions each day, but I can honestly say that I am grateful for the simple life that my family has come to cherish. I’ve come to a place where I want this for my son more than I want the newest toys, a calendar full of play dates and outings every day of the week, or big vacations each summer. Our life is beautiful because we’ve learned that saying no has given us a freedom with which deadlines just can’t compete.
Now that I’ve learned the power that comes from choosing a slower way of life, I can’t wait to read Little House on the Freeway by Dr. Tim Kimmel. This book suggests “101 Ways to Give Rest to Your Family” and brings to light the reasons families will be better because they said no to busyness. (I am not an affiliate of this book’s sale.)
What “no’s” in your life have made your life simpler and more rewarding? I’d love to hear about them!
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