One of the questions I get asked a lot is some version of “How does your husband feel about this Christian minimalism thing??”
Well, I recently got to sit down with my husband Will to talk about his experience with Christian minimalism– and what it’s like being married to a Christian minimalist.
Becca: What was your first reaction when I introduced you to the idea of minimalism? What drew you to the lifestyle?
Will: I will say my first reaction wasn’t very…enthusiastic. You had just finished watching the Minimalism documentary on Netflix and were super excited to have me watch it. I didn’t want to watch the movie because I knew I was going to feel called out (by the documentary or you, wasn’t sure which at the time)… and I didn’t want to deal with that.
The documentary was a good starting point for me to start to understand minimalism more. I don’t really own too much as far as personal possessions go, but as far as things we’ve amassed as a couple, I knew we had way too much. We wanted to get rid of a lot of stuff before we moved [from Buffalo to Gettysburg], but we ran out of time, and paid a ridiculous amount of money to move a whole lot of stuff we didn’t need– and then a whole lot more money to keep it in a storage unit for a year. I started to warm to the idea of minimalism when I realized that it could be a catalyst for getting rid of all this stuff that I knew was weighing us down.
As time went on and I saw you digging into minimalism more and starting your No Shopping Year challenge, I was really impressed. You had a really bad online shopping addiction and when I saw you begin to break away from the bad habits that were keeping you down, I started to see God at work. And when I see God working, I get on board as fast as I can.
Becca: How do you see minimalism relating to your Christian faith?
Will: In my own life, I know that sometimes I spend way too much time on things that don’t matter at the expense of meaningful relationships. The truth is, we have a finite amount of time and resources, and minimalism is a call to be more intentional about making sure we are spending our time and talents on the things that really matter.
I think what I find the most interesting is that minimalism has a huge following of people all across the board, and most of the major influencers aren’t Christian… yet the core message they share is very much in-line with Scripture. I see God using people like Ryan and Joshua (The Minimalists) like modern-day prophets in terms of speaking truth into a world that values things over people. As a Christian though, I’d say their message is incomplete. Yes, we have to make sure our possessions don’t own us because we can’t serve two masters. However, once God works through us to break the chains of consumer oppression, we are able to focus more on Jesus’ call in our lives to love God and love our neighbors.
Becca: What is it like being married to a Christian minimalist?
One of the things I appreciate most (though unfortunately for you, I never appreciate it at the time!) is how you’ll ask me questions to help me figure out if something I’m doing is REALLY important. Often times, you’ll call me out on something I want to buy or do– and at the time I’ll be angry because it doesn’t FEEL supportive because you’re getting in the way of what I want in that moment. But, in reality, it’s very supportive, and once we get out of the immediate “I need to buy this” situation, I can see that a bit clearer. I’m able to do the same thing for you I think, usually with the same results!
Becca: What has it been like going through big life changes like buying a house, moving, minimizing possessions, etc. with a Christian minimalist spouse?
Will: Honestly, becoming a minimalist is not fun at first. Getting rid of all the crap that is weighing you down takes a lot of time and energy. Internally, you’re fighting against a mindset that has been actively oppressing you, and fighting is hard work. You get to celebrate some wins for sure, and that helps, but it’s still really hard. Buying a house and needing to move all our things again [to Philadelphia] made it stressful because it put a time limit in place… it was also super helpful precisely BECAUSE it put a time limit in place. When it came to the actually getting rid of stuff, I just saw it as hard work that needed to get done, and I think both of us sometimes got bogged down in the sheer amount of work that was involved. The danger of losing the “why” in the midst of the everyday work is possible in minimalism just as much as anything else.
Becca: How do you and I live out Christian minimalism in different ways?
Will: I’m not sure that we do. As long as we’re freeing ourselves from distractions that keep us from hearing God whisper to us that we are loved, and to take that love out into our communities, it’s very much the same. Sure, you’re doing the year of no shopping and tackling the minimalism in a stricter way, but as far as the why, we’re on the same page.
Becca: How do you think God is working through the Christian minimalist lifestyle in your own life?
Will: While figuring out what matters most in my life and minimizing, I got rid of a lot of video games and electronics. I got rid of my Switch, my Xbox One X, my Alienware gaming computer, my 27” 5K iMac and my 13” MacBook Pro. I’m now down to only having one computer, which is a monumental departure for me. I had a LOT of distractions with all these different things. Don’t get me wrong, I still work in tech, so I still have things. I still have an iPad and an iPhone and an Android so I can keep current, since mobile devices help keep me employed. But I’ve removed a lot of things in my life that instead of adding value, things that kept me busy on the wrong stuff. I now try to be intentional with the usage of every single thing I have so that I own them, instead of them owning me.
I’ve been wandering through a spiritual desert for a while now due to the death of our son, your chronic illness, mourning a life we don’t get to live, and the stress of uprooting our lives multiple times. Through being intentional about my time and possessions, I have made room for any number of things. As a Christian, it’s vitally important to make sure I take that newly free time to listen to God telling me that I’m loved– and to get my butt off the couch and go love people. If I’m not freeing myself up to listen to where God’s leading me, there’s no point to minimalism at all.