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10/12/2010

a song for a heart so big

wichita mountains, oklahoma. 2006.
My husband and I met on a blind date. I called him when I arrived at Barnes and Noble, and we talked on the phone until we were finally face to face. It was an awkward, movie-like meeting. He held in his hand a book - The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne. I didn't pay much attention to the book or to my husband to be honest. I was ready to finish the date and go out with my girlfriends.

I learned later that he bought the book for a friend, the friend who set us up on the blind date to be exact. I also learned later that my husband purposefully purchased the book with me present as a way to impress me. It didn't work then, but I do appreciate the gesture now.

We have a copy of the book. The cover is tattered and worn from my husband reading it. I tried to read it once and then stopped; the book is currently on the floorboard of my car collecting dirt and dust.

Every morning and every afternoon, I see the book in the car. I consider reading it or at least taking it inside after the work day. But I forget to grab it every day. Currently, I am thinking about giving it another chance. I've felt the calling lately to simplify - to really simplify and not just say I need to simplify, and while I know I will not agree with everything in the book (or any book for that matter), I feel like it might be a good start.

I'm far too worried and consumed by the standards of the American dream and how my life measures up. None of it matters, but somehow, I tricked myself into thinking it matters what shoes I wear, how many shoes are in my closet, how often I change my purse, and so one. For years, I shopped when I wanted to or when I felt sad. I used material possession as a way to lift myself up. Unsurprisingly, it didn't work.

I've talked before about simplifying. I've gone so far as to discuss how I can do it, and while I am by no means perfect, I'm slowly getting there. I have not had a drink from Starbucks in over a month. And honestly, I don't miss the vanilla soy lattes. I am perfectly content with the freshly brewed at home coffee and vanilla creamer. I'll miss gingerbread lattes this year, but I don't need them. I also haven't visited Sonic's happy hour in almost a month. There are no new clothes (at least not new in the sense that they were purchased within the last two months) in my closet or new shoes or new purses. I've worn the same purse almost daily for the past two months. It's the little things.

I wish it were easier to not spend money, to be content. And I am sure as more time passes, it will become a bit easier. But right now, it's still a struggle though I am certain that now is the time for me to let go of my love of wordly possessions and find contentment in the things I already have.

It doesn't mean that I just sit at home. I'll still spend weekends at the movies. I'll enjoy a nice dinner out with my husband. In fact, I did all those things this weekend. But it's different because I realize I do not need to do those things in order to be happy.

It's hard to explain, honestly. How do I go from loving fashion and shopping and all those things to suddenly figuring our that none of it really matters? How do I go from feeling like I need a pedicure once a month to deciding to paint my own toenails, even if I do get polish all over my feet? How do you go from eating out 75% of the time to cooking at home and actually eating the lunch you bring to work? It's a choice - just like everything else in life.

There is a quote I have displayed (somewhere) in our house that says the richest person is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least. When I purchased the plaque, I thought it was a nice idea; that was years ago. The truth in those words is finally beginning to resonate.

At the end of the day, nothing we have on earth is ours. It won't go with us when we die. And while, yes, things can make our lives more comfortable, things also lead to this need to have more and more and more. Things also lead to the need to compare ourselves to others.

My house might not be the nicest. There is a constant draft, and the floors creak and moan. The house itself is leaning to the left; the floors slope. We're constantly cold in the winter. But this is the house I have. And at least I have a house. The same can be said for everything else.

I probably won't be a revolutionary like Shane Claiborne. I might not (and probably won't) give up everything I won. But I can at least continue to remind myself of what matters in this world. I can at least lift up the things that will always remain with me.

So here I go with my adventure - the adventure of not spending and not looking and not wanting. Will it be hard? Yes. Will I whine? Yes. Can I do it? Yes.

Here's to hoping you also discover the things that matter most to you. Let me know if you need accountability. I am sure I will.

(title from "hear you me" by jimmy eat world)

2 comments:

  1. Hi! Thanks for the sweet words of encouragement on my blog. Means so much! Some people think Im nuts for what Im doing but, yes I am simply looking for "what I want to be when I grow up." I look forward to following you on your blog. I too am trying to do many of the same things as you! Eating in all week days including bringing my lunch, not shopping, etc. And I have even worn the SAME purse every day for a year and a half. Ha!! Good luck:)

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  2. Hi! I'm visiting from Mingle Monday! I love meeting other midwest bloggers - I'm a newlywed who lives in Wichita. I love your house, and it looks like we have the same bedding set (from the picture of your pups in the sidebar!)

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