Minimalism, Decision Fatigue, and Christianity 

Minimalism, Decision Fatigue + Christianity

Minimalism Defined

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist defines minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things we value most and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” I think minimalism is frequently misunderstood. It isn’t just about getting rid of stuff. Most often it is not the tangible that keeps us from the things we value most, but the intangible.

How Minimalism is Subjective

The common thread in minimalism is removing roadblocks to what we really want to be doing. Naturally this has as many variations as there are people.

If you value travel, you may opt for a tiny living space with very few belongings. Since you are rarely home, your income would be better spent on plane tickets!

If you value being a stay-at-home mom and need to make one income work for your family, lavish vacations and eating out will probably be removed to make that possible.

If you value gourmet food experiences then you may eat at fancy restaurants and spend very little on interior decorating.

If you value an active lifestyle then you will probably put your kids in sports and other activities. You might hike and regularly explore new places. To promote those things you will probably have to remove a job that keeps you working long and late hours. Opt for homeschooling the kids so you have the flexibility to go where you want when you want. Avoid involvement in clubs or other communities that require long, frequent meetings.

Every individual has different priorities. What those are for you, will determine what you leave behind.

Identifying Roadblocks and Eliminating Decision Fatigue

In an effort to identify roadblocks in my day, I asked myself what I found difficult, frustrating, stress-inducing, or time-consuming. Things that immediately came to mind:

  • Deciding what to feed my kids for breakfast
  • Deciding what to feed my kids for lunch
  • Planning and making time for activities my children will enjoy
  • Deciding what clothes to wear
  • The messy state of my children’s rooms

These processes were stealing my joy and energy and left me frustrated and spent before I had gotten where I wanted to be. It was an inefficient use of time. I realized that it was the decision making involved in most of these things that caused me stress. I was experiencing what has been labeled as “decision fatigue”.

Keeping My Children’s Rooms Clean(ish)

My children’s messy rooms are the only category where decisions weren’t the issue, but thousands of tiny little toy parts were. I’ve come to accept the fact that this is partly just a season, a season where my daughter loves barbie accessories and teeny tiny things. But I have also released myself from the guilt of paring down her other “treasures.” I know that if she truly loves and values her toys, I can give those priority, which means I take the liberty of throwing away stickers, “gems,” coins, buttons, rocks…I think you get the picture. I am constantly picking up, but, by throwing those little bits and bobs away the first time I pick them up, it reduces the cyclical horror of it all. In the end, I try to be gracious and remember that they are only children once.

The Solution to Parenting Decision Fatigue

I am a list maker by nature. So lists are what became the solution to decision fatigue surrounding the day in / day out decisions of motherhood.

I made a 7-day schedule of lunch and breakfast foods to serve my kids, and I repeat it. I chose meals that fit this criteria:

  1. My children will eat it
  2. It’s different than yesterday (variety)
  3. Nutritious
  4. Easy to prepare

I also made a schedule of activities my children enjoy, spread them out over the week, and balanced them with errands I need to accomplish too. It’s helpful for me to see that they are getting some fun activities in, and that I don’t need to feel guilty if there isn’t an outing every day.

The Solution to Wardrobe Decision Fatigue

My closet contained about ten shirts (not including winter clothes which I wear about 1 month out of the year in FL). Roughly five of those ten shirts were shirts I wanted to wear. The rest were too fussy (hello mom-life) and reserved for date nights or girls night out. As you can imagine, those wearable shirts were always in the dirty laundry pile. When this realization hit me, the solution was a no-brainer! I found a ($6) t-shirt and with giddy, problem-solving inspiration, I drove to Target and bought it in 8 colors. I now get dressed without deliberation over my potential outfit choice for the day. Man does it feel good.

I’ve also noticed that identifying the items I gravitate toward wearing makes me a smarter shopper. Since I now know that 9 times out of 10, I will pick a t-shirt and jeans, that is what I buy 90% of the time. The lace halter top or floral shorts might grab my eye quicker in the store, but I know far too well how little use they’ll get.

Identifying Dysfunction

Minimalism is the decision to detach yourself from sources of dysfunction— think of your life as an orchestra from which you must remove the ill-tuned instruments if you want to enjoy the symphony. Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to be doing?
  • What will matter to me 50 years from now?
  • What relationships currently add undue stress to my life?
  • What approaching activities/commitments on my calendar do I dread?
  • What activities/errands leave me feeling frazzled and wondering where my day went?
  • What kinds of purchases do I usually regret?
  • Is my surplus of possessions getting in the way of enjoying my home?

 

Minimalism, Decision Fatigue, and Christianity

Christian Minimalism

I would be remiss not to mention that Jesus is my ultimate example for how to live a life of minimalism. I must consider his example carefully, as what is seemingly a paradox is actually congruent with all that I am called to in Christ.

Jesus on the one hand is very “pro-minimalism” when it comes to earthly possessions:

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33

On the other hand, Jesus calls us to follow him in laying down our lives to serve others—the poor, the outcast, the brother stumbling in sin (*exceptions exist for relationships that are toxic but that’s a conversation for another day*).

Minimalism focuses inward at how I can make my life more fulfilling by eliminating inconvenience (this is has benefits, as I’ve attested), but convenience is not the measuring stick Jesus uses. He calls us to lay aside our convenience and agenda to love and serve others.

I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me…I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:35 & 40 

While there are many good things to glean from minimalism, we have to guard against the “wisdom” of this world. Minimalism is not a shortcut to joy. Ultimate, unwithering joy is found in Jesus alone.

Spiritual Minimalism

Jesus also calls us to remove things in our life—things that get in the way of what he values most: holiness. You might say that his version of minimalism is far more extreme:

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell!” Matthew 5:29-30

Jesus is calling us to remove the things that carry our hearts away from Him. I pray I learn to practice spiritual minimalism as enthusiastically as I have the other kind.

Additional Resources

{includes affiliate links}

What is Minimalism?

Yes, No, Maybe So: Defeating Decision Fatigue

Minimize Decision Fatigue with a Morning Routine

Maximize Productivity: Here are 7 ways to minimize decision fatigue in your life

A Minimalist Approach to Fitness

32 Reasons I’m Craving All Things Minimalism

A Pinterest Board to Follow: Minimalist Living

Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

14 Types of Minimalists

20 Resources on How to Be a Minimalist with Kids

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

 


What are your thoughts on minimalism? Are you already living it? Just learning about it? What do you love about it and what do you still struggle with? How does Jesus challenge your thinking about minimalism?

Minimalism, Decision Fatigue and Christianity

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11 comments

  1. Great article, Stephanie! You did a great job of explaining what Minimalism is all about! It isn’t just getting rid of “stuff” it’s a lot more. The emotional side of Minimalism can be even more freeing that just the tangible “stuff.” Great read. ????

  2. A great read, thought provoking !! I always love to hear what God is working in your heart & life and trust He will use it to work in other’s. You have many gifts !!

  3. This is a great post! I’m going to re-read it again and again and use some of your ideas. As new SAHM (who is also trying to get more organized) this type of info will be invaluable! Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is a great article – a great mix of the practical tools that simplify the frustration points, and also a good challenge to our thinking. For me, minimalism helps me to untangle my heart from the temptation to love money. Thanks Stephanie.

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