I like to refer to myself as an organizational enigma. I THRIVE on color coded sticky notes and pens, and i’m lost if I happen to forget my planner at home. But my room at home can be classified as tornado aftermath. Organized chaos. Whatever. Which is why I was equal parts nervous and excited to undertake this year with the challenge of living simply. The YAV program tells us that we “are challenged to practice simple living – living an abundant life with less. Living simply pushes YAVs to evaluate their true needs with their lifestyle and beliefs. We challenge one another to live more simply in response to an unsustainable human demand for natural resources.”
I was determined to leave all the “stuff” behind when I moved to New Orleans. I packed my clothes, shoes, and essentials like shampoo and toothbrushes, and decided that all my extras would have to fit in one shoebox size container. I remembered moving out of my apartment at university after two years and just being shocked at how much stuff I had accumulated. It was stuff that at one point had some sort of meaning, but was honestly now just clutter; and all that clutter came home with me and added to the clutter already there. So I was determined to only bring things with me that really mattered.
I decided to bring a few picture frames of my college roommates and sorority sisters, a photo of me, my brother, and my dog, a stuffed bear that says “Someone in Arlington Loves You” and a last minute addition of a small wooden cross given to me by First Presbyterian Church of Beacon on the last day of YAV orientation.
I asked myself when I was packing: what do I want around me when i’m missing home? And then I had to evaluate if what I wanted to bring would honestly just make the homesickness worse. So far I think I made great decisions because honestly I haven’t experienced a lot of homesickness (except for that ever present church-sickness, shout out to Clarendon Presbyterian Church, i’m quickly starting to realize there is nothing like you).
The next thing I had to evaluate was what it really means to me to “live an abundant life with less”? In a society that’s so focused on buying the next thing to stay on trend, or getting the newest version of whatever technology is coming out just to say you did, how can I turn toward appreciating what I have, and realize that the memories I’m going to make with my housemates this year are going to be the most important things I carry with me to the next phase of my life.
So all of this to say I by no means have this whole simply life thing figured out, I’ve only been here for a month and a half, I still have nine and a half more to go and I anticipate learning so much more about what it means to live an abundant life with less, both materially and in my faith, but for now I’ll end with this,
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5