Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

February 2, 2008

Why we try to live simply, Part 3

Filed under: christianity,Religion and Philosophy — theburts @ 9:04 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Obsession with possessions…another hurdle to clear before being free from materialism and consumerism.

It’s a phrase from that book I’m still reading (I’m a slow reader, I apologize). We see ownership as power and full enjoyment. Think of the countless number of people who go further into debt to buy things that they could just borrow. The obvious examples are the snowboards used once every 3 years, the Sea-doo stored in a garage for 11 months out of the year, or the beach house they visit to wipe off the dust every couple of years. Foster said “let’s learn to enjoy the beauty of the beach without the compulsion to buy a piece of it.”

Please also remember the other principles I’ve given throughout this series. Just because one isn’t going into debt to purchase these “toys,” just because we can afford them, doesn’t mean this principle doesn’t apply. Simplicity goes beyond freedom from debt, although adapting a simpler lifestyle would certainly alleviate debt for thousands. The Christian call is to think of others, and we simply must consider the poor when we’re considering that new toy. Will owning it really make us happier than borrowing a similar used one for the weekend and using that money for good? I think, if we actually prayed about these things, most purchases would seem silly or ridiculous. But, dear God, our fun would be ruined if we brought you into our joyful and impulsive expenditures!

Along those lines, and still on the topic of simplicity, why not ask God to provide us with the things that we need? Foster suggests a week of thought and prayer before determining that we need an item, and during that week waiting to see if he’ll provide it for us. Though I’ve been able to avoid many big ticket items, I could definitely use some work on this one. The pair of work gloves, the Skil saw, the new equipment for camping, or even optometry equipment for medical missions…what if I waited a week or two and prayed to God about those things that I determined were a true need? I might contact a friend who has what I need, and can avoid buying a new one for a one use project. He suggests it’s exciting to see how God provides (ask Amy Pratt, it happened to her this week). I almost bought an expensive autorefractor for my Haiti trips once a year, but a quick phone call secured a borrowed one. Of course there are some needs that go beyond a short project, and for those, borrowing might not be the best option. But buy used if you can, let your neighbor borrow your gorgeous lawn mower, avoid malls with your life, and for the love of God, STOP SHOPPING. (heheh, sorry, pulled a little Reverend Billy there)

What a wonderful thing to rely on God, and your community, for things that you need. I remember, when we lived in community in north Nashville, how awesome it was how different people contributed in different ways. Not just with items they owned, but with talents they had. I affixed a rod in Mindy and Ariah’s closet to hang clothes, Bryan cooked, Avery and Roman entertained, Ariah put together the composter, Dawn and Mindy let me borrow jewelry with which to propose to Amanda (well, not the actual ring…long story), Josh fixed the internet, Chris would babysit, and on and on.

Ah, to be able to step out of the world of ownership and isolation and enjoy the freedom of simplicity.



  1. Hi, Daniel and Amanda —
    Thanks for your powerful words, and even more, the ways you teach through your life. In this most recent post, I appreciate your suggestion about pondering our purchases. I find my own temptations are less about “toys” but about “necessities” — the question, of course, is how necessary these really are. Giving myself a week to reflect on this prayerfully is very helpful. Thanks also for that beautiful vision of living in community and inspiring me to work towards that in my life. I’m determined this week to look for ways to lend a hand, and (even harder for me) to ask for a hand sometimes as well.
    I look forward to reading more — thanks!
    Your cuz, Jennifer

    Comment by jennifer green — February 3, 2008 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  2. Whoa! I thought we were famous because Lisa Ling wrote about us on her website…but now, we have a comment from the infamous cousin Jennifer Green! It’s really good to hear from you.

    I agree that the question of “necessities” is a much more difficult one than it used to be. Yes, we may need something with which to dice or chop vegetables, peppers, etc. In the past, people made do with a knife, but now we have electronic food choppers (we have one, btw). And remember that old home made ice cream maker we had in Mena? It was an amazing electronic one, had to keep putting sea salt down the sides and occasionally hand crank it to get it unstuck, mmmm that stuff was good…but now, that one’s a piece of junk compared to today’s models!

    Whether toys or necessities, I’m becoming convinced that we will never have everything we want, regardless of whether or not we’re trying to keep up with the latest. The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard (www.storyofstuff.com) is a brilliant short video which taught us about perceived obsolescence…the genius marketing and advertising that convinces us that we need to ditch the old and buy the new. I’m also becoming increasingly convinced of the joy of purchasing used items. We have so much fun stopping by Goodwill for a couple of forks and a glass jar, or by Southern Thrift for new pants. Then of course there’s the free dumpsters for us weird folk. ;)

    On the idea of community, specifically lending / asking for a hand…I’m about to write a blog continuing that very idea. Sometime, I would love to tell you more about the wonderful community I was a part of last year.

    Thanks again for dropping by! Hello to the fam!

    Comment by theburts — February 4, 2008 @ 3:56 am | Reply

  3. Aaah, yes, the ice cream in Mena — I’ll never forget. You know, part of the deliciousness of that experience was how long it took. I well remember running around the backyard and playing while we waited for it to finish, anticipation building the whole time. How much we would’ve missed if we’d simply scooped it out from a store bought box or pressed a single button to do all the work for us — and not just in taste. Thanks for the great memory.

    Comment by jennifer green — February 6, 2008 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

  4. This is great! I need to be reminded to pray and wait for God to work. We all need to be reminded of that.
    We have found ourselves in situations where borrowing from our “neighbors” is so inconvenient. We have not built up a community around us yet like the ones we have known in the past. That makes it so difficult to live out our value of simplicity. It is a huge challenge to wait or to humble ourselves to ask to borrow something when our neighbors, almost everyone of them, has their own snowblower. We’ve, I mean Bryan, has been shoveling the driveway since Thanksgiving! It would be so much easier and more convenient to simply buy our own snowblower. But we continue to rely on the generosity of our neighbor, Frank, to lend us his.
    We are still struggling through, but we know there is hope for our struggles.

    Love you guys!

    Comment by Dawn — February 7, 2008 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

  5. My name is Landis Ford and was led to your blog with the key word autorefactor. I am working with a group who has been to Grenada for tht last four year. On this years medical mission trip we were looking to depense glasses. Unfortuantly the autorefactor we thought we had lined up is not available. If you can provide any assistance or advice on how we can get a loaner for a July 18th to 24th trip it would be greatly appriciated.

    Comment by Landis — May 7, 2008 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

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