I grew up in a very comfortable place. My parents were married with no signs of divorce… I went to good schools, ate well (maybe too well sometimes), had everything I needed and most of what I wanted, and never really thought about the fact that other people lived differently. I lived in a little bubble on my high horse.. I was clearly very egocentric… as most kids and teenagers are.
When I went to college, in a small town, with clear areas of poverty and want… my perspective began to change. Not everyone is like me. I began to take my walk with the Lord more seriously. I began to gain interest in missions and realize that not only are their physically poor people… spiritually poor people are everywhere as well. I read the book Bruchko by Bruce Olsen and wanted to give away all my possessions to the poor. I think I offended my parents a little when I came home and started bagging up most of what I had accumulated over the years to give away. I figured that if I wasn’t using it (or hadn’t even thought about it over the last couple of years of being away in collge)… someone else should. Every time I came home from college, I would clean out and bag up more stuff. This only helped the journey of simplicity in living for me… because you see… I still wasn’t in want for anything. I was still going to to a good school. I still had money at my disposal. I could get whatever I needed (and wanted) whenever I needed it.
After college, I could have moved back to where I grew up. I even took a summer internship at my home church… a very missional and evangelical church.. it was a privilege to work there. But something wasn’t right. I was still surrounded by wealth and abundance and I just wasn’t comfortable with that. I moved back to the town where I’d gone to college and into a log cabin in the woods (now.. before you think of that as quaint and cozy… just know… there was no insulation, no air, plenty of bugs and no neighbors). I took a teaching job and worked with many of the lower income families. I got to know people who lived simply and had not grown up in the wealth and abundance I had always known.
Let me take a moment here to make clear that I am not saying the way I grew up was wrong. I think my dad is to be commended for being a “self made” man and providing so much for his family that my mom could stay home and we could get great educations and more. God makes no mistakes in where he places us. He has purpose in our families of origin.
I met my husband in this town. He grew up in a manner that was drastically different… like polar opposite than what I had known.. but that is his story to tell. He said once that one of the reasons he wanted to marry me was because I didn’t live like I had grown up with money. I made a choice to live simply.
Simplicity is a choice. Simple living is a chosen lifestyle for many here in America. Even our poor are kings among men compared to those in Haiti or Uganda or a number of other places throughout the world. We live in a society of abundance… Unnecessary abundance. James 1:27 calls us to care for the orphans and widows… we, in America have that opportunity.
Right now, our family has no choice but to live simply because of our oppressively tight seminary budget… but quite honestly… our life doesn’t look that much different than when I lived in the cabin in the woods. We don’t eat out or travel as much. We’ve learned to make the tough choices and to train our children in the same way. Our decision making right now with money is limited…. I hope one day that we will be in a place where we can give to care for the orphans and widows. I hope… oh I hope that when we are more financially secure, I will not be tempted to go back to that life of abundance. I hope that I will remember these days of simple, basic… just the needs living so I may be free to give to those without.
Simplicity is a choice. We can choose to live in our homes with our comforts and fool ourselves into thinking we need, need, need… or we can take an honest look and be willing to give up so many comforts.
I have friends that I admire so much who are making those hard choices everyday. Alive in Indo, Fruitful Family, and Good to be Crazy are some blogs that document lives changed by a desire to live with less to be able to give more. Thank you friends… your lives are so inspiring.

Confessions of a Seminary Wife- Simplicity is a Choice

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