I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in the past couple of years about simplicity. It started for me when we moved into a smaller house back in New York. I didn’t have space for all of the things I thought I had to have, so I pared down, big time. At the same time, life wasn’t more simple because with both of us working for the same church, our lives were way too intertwined with the congregation and had little to do with anything separate from it. And I certainly didn’t keep up with anything at home. We ate out all the time, putting our dietary needs into someone else’s hands. Paperwork would stack up for months at a time. The bills got paid, but that was about it. Cleaning was done only as a matter of necessity. The other non-simple thing was that our house was old. It had problems. There weren’t enough outlets, and the ones we did have couldn’t be used at the same time or we’d trip a breaker. The yard was beautiful, but huge and required more upkeep than we were willing to do. Multiple things in the house needed replacing, fixing, or updating. Not a simple life.
Now that we’ve moved, I’m still trying to find simplicity. Our home is much larger, so the temptation is there to fill it up with stuff again. I’ve been trying to resist. It helps that there isn’t a ton of storage in the main living areas. I’m not working, which also helps, and I’m utilizing routines and checklists much better. But I wonder about the little things. For example, is it better to buy disposable products for cleaning and throw them out week to week (for example, clorox wipes, swiffer products, and toilet wands) or should I buy the liquid cleaners and use washable tools like dust and wet mops, rags, and toilet brushes? One creates more garbage, the other, more laundry. And is one or the other more convenient, really? Either I have to run a load of laundry or make sure I pick things up at the store. Truthfully, I will probably forget to buy something before I forget to do laundry.
And is it better to have multiple bank accounts for different purposes, or streamline things with one? For us, I doubt we’ll be getting rid of any accounts any time soon. We have three: our primary checking account (which is through a church agency bank that gives us the best combination of interest and free services we can get), our local checking account (for depositing any checks we may receive since our other bank is direct-deposit or by-mail only), and our credit union (which my husband joined long before we were married but boasts the best auto loan rates every single time we have looked). Plus two savings accounts, two credit cards (paid off monthly, but different benefits to each), and oh, yeah, some places only take cash. Whew!
Is it better to just keep the stuff we absolutely need for tax purposes and toss everything else? And what should we actually be shredding? How much shredding is overkill? And then there’s what to do with the paper. The church has a paper recycling bin that brings in income, but we almost never remember to take it in. But our local garbage pick-up will recycle paper, too, and we never forget to take it out. So is it worth it to help the church by collecting paper for them and then storing it at our house until we remember, or should we just get over it and put it by the curb?
I think the problem is that I get too caught up in values that belong to the world around me and not necessarily to me. I worry too much about the way things look and not enough about what God is asking of me. Many of these choices boil down to two pretty decent alternatives. Some are more complex, but the bottom line is, worrying is sinful and these are petty things to worry about.
Anyone else struggle with this?