If you have read many of my blog posts, you may already know that I really like the idea of minimalism and its benefits. I believe in living small, and I try to keep my life relatively simple. However, the last five years have taught me that it is possible to live TOO small. Sometimes, less is NOT more.
I’ve been pretty introverted around here. Despite the MANY blessings and exciting events in the last year, I really struggled with anxiety and depression. I’m not a stranger to those things, but I think they got the best of me, because I thought I had grown beyond their clutches. True to my nature, I withdrew from writing, because I want to be a source of encouragement, and I just wasn’t a wellspring of positivity. I considered being vulnerable and talking about the ways I was hurting, but the words just wouldn’t come. I was stuck. And then I felt guilty and like a failure. It was a spiral, but I’m not sure I was even fully aware of it.
When we moved into our new home in April, I felt a very sudden loosening of those chains. Our new house, which I believe was an absolute gift being held for us by God, is a lot more airy and open. The four years prior, we’d lived intentionally very small so that we could pay off some of our debts and pursue the life we wanted for our kids and us. We learned and relearned that we really do need a lot less than we think. But those small spaces became even smaller when we added another sweet baby to the family. Her person and her belongings tipped the scales of what could comfortably fit in the space that we’d chosen. Daily, I was overwhelmed and even completely overcome by the clutter around me. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t purge and organize enough to really make it work. I’ll never forget tripping over laundry baskets to cook dinner and wash dishes. Just the basic functions of a stay-at-home-mama were extremely tedious.
Living small wasn’t serving us, so its very purpose was defeated.
Our new home, with the same amount of possessions as our apartment, now gives us the space we need to breathe. SPACE is a good thing. We still live small, but we can stretch out and live more fully. I can be hospitable in ways I never could before. I can live and work in close proximity to my children and not feel smothered. The possessions that enrich our lives have their own places and can be stored out of site, which creates an environment that is less visually stimulating. In short, this home is peaceful, and for that, I thank God continually.
We were able to host both sides of our family for Hosanna’s first birthday!
More than necessary cabinet space is great for little explorers to play and hide!
We have time and space for blanket forts!
These quiet moments with my babies make life so sweet.
A yard of our own means we get to own pets. Meet Harold “Harry” Super Cat Dummel!
I realize that moving into a larger space isn’t always an option (it wasn’t for us for many years), but our situation is indicative of our need for space in many ways. We need space to think, to breathe, to grow. That doesn’t always mean physical space. We need to keep space in our schedules for Sabbath rest, for connection with the people in our lives, for communion with God. Are we tripping over the laundry baskets of life on our way to eating spiritual and emotional food? Laundry and serving and paying bills are all necessary parts of life, but when they begin to crowd out the peaceful moments that keep us going, we are bound to shut down.
Whether it’s my upbringing by two very hard workers or my type A personality, I’m a person obsessed with productivity. Learning to juggle two kids and a house that refused to stay clean got the very best of me in every way. I worked constantly and forgot to take time to breathe and fill up in my own unique ways. I pushed away my husband and kids in the name of cleaning and seeking spatial peace that wasn’t to be found. Thankfully, hard lessons can be learned, and I’m beginning to once again care for my family and myself the way that I should, which means a whole lot more than physical work. The depression and anxiety are mostly at bay. Intentional time spent building my relationship with my husband, my babies, and my Savior are all keys to emotional strength and well-being.
If your life is so busy that you don’t have space to breathe deeply, please take a Sabbath rest. It is possible to live TOO small. You can live with too little physical AND emotional space for a healthy lifestyle. Moving into a larger, more open home was extremely helpful to me, but depression and anxiety are imminent if I don’t follow God’s way, which includes hard, meaningful work, but also deliberate rest.