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The Heart of Minimalism

Submitted by Bethany on Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:00

Book Review: The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

I think it's no surprise to anyone by now that I am in love with Marie Kondo and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That book was the start of my interest in minimalism, and now I am reading everything I can get my hands on related to that topic. It must be a hot topic right now because every single book I want to read has a waiting list at the library, including the one I just finished by Joshua Becker, also known as the author of the blog Becoming Minimalist.

I was first introduced to Becker's work on his Facebook page when a friend started sharing some of his posts. Then he showed up on a podcast I listen to, promoting his newest book The Minimalist Home. When his first book The More of Less finally became available from the library for my Kindle I devoured it in just two days. I found myself pleasantly surprised by what I read. 

While Marie Kondo covers "the how" of reducing what you own, Joshua Becker focuses on "the why". 

I love Marie Kondo for her essential, practical tips on how to reduce what you own - how to decide what to keep or not, how to release the guilt of getting rid of gifts from other people, and then, how to organize what is left. While she touches a little bit on her book on why to do all of this, her focus is definitely on the how. 

Becker's book, on the other hand, is all about why you should want to declutter and go minimalist in your life. He starts by debunking some myths about minimalism (you'll end up living in an empty white house with a single chair) and gives a definition that makes a lot of sense. For Becker, minimalism is about getting rid of everything that is not important to you, so you can have more of what is important to you. This means that minimalism is different for everyone - everyone will be comfortable with different amounts of stuff, and what might be clutter to one person might be life-giving to another (take crafting supplies for instance.)

Becker shares his own journey with minimalism he has been on for the last ten years, and how it started one spring morning when he was cleaning out his garage. The way he shares his story throughout the book is compelling and makes what he is saying feel achievable for everyone. What I was most pleasantly surprised by, however, was the way he weaves his faith into his take on minimalism.

I'll admit when he first revealed that he used to be a pastor I was skeptical about where the book was going. He never specified a church or denomination he used to serve in but I got the feeling it was large, non-denominational, perhaps a little fundamentalist, and that sort of theology usually doesn't jive with my own. Yet, as he began to use stories of Jesus and scripture to bolster his points about minimalism I found myself agreeing with him! 

The Bible has a lot to say about how humans should care for the earth, be stewards of all creation, and how and what we should live with in our lives. While my denomination is still wasting time discussing human sexuality, we should be focusing on the way consumerism is destroying the planet and in some ways, our very society. Becker was able to use scripture to make his points without being too preachy and without pulling Bible verses out of context. I was quite impressed. 

I was so impressed, in fact, that someday when I serve a church again I plan to create a Bible study/class using this book. There are so many people who might protest and say minimalism isn't for them, but if you are one of those people I would encourage you to read this book. It helps you to think intentionally about your life, why you own what you own, why you buy what you buy, what purpose it serves, and what greater purpose might be served if you let go of some of those things. 

Becker really emphasized that minimalism is not an end in and of itself.

The point of "becoming minimalist" is so that you will then have more time, more money, more energy for other things in your life. He encourages his readers to set an intention from the beginning for what they hope their minimalist journey will bring them. When you have more time will you volunteer for charitable causes? When you have more money will you be more generous to those in need?

The point of minimalism then is not just what it can do for you, but what it will enable you to do for others. 

As a pastor, I love this message, and it's one I want to help spread. I've been on the Kondo train for a while now, but now with Becker's help, I think that the train has more direction and more purpose. 

Whether you are already on the minimalist bandwagon, are unsure about it, or have already decided it's not for you, I highly encourage you to read this book. I think it has something for everyone and might just give you a new perspective. If you give it a try, be sure to come back and let me know what you think! 

XOXO, Bethany 

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Your thoughts?

How do you feel it would speak to those who are experiencing a forced downsize? I've had several conversations about the grief experienced when having to leave almost everything you own when you move into a care center, just in the last week. What might it say to those who didn't have a choice?  

I remember helping people through that grief when I was at Friendship Haven, it is very real and very hard. I think this book could absolutely have some wisdom and insight for them. Even though they aren't choosing to get rid of things, his thoughts on what good can come out of getting rid of stuff might help them to reframe what they are going through. I suggest you check it out! 

Honestly, I think the Kondo book could be helpful with that too. Her practices of thanking items for their service and being hopeful about items going on to be helpful to others come to mind. I think a combo of Becker/Kondo turned into some sort of class or Bible study could be really interesting for a care center setting...