Working under limitations produces creativity. That’s why poets work under limitations of form. That’s why many innovations are developed during times of economic distress. That’s why children thrive within boundaries of loving discipline. That’s why artists limit their palette. I think the Lord did the same thing in creation. Look at how amazingly diverse and creative our world is! He didn’t create everything that goes in North America at once and then move on to Asia. He focused on one thing at a time. The atmosphere. The stars. The vegetation. The Master Artist designed all the birds at one time, focusing on just things that fly in the air. Presenting… the flamingo, the hummingbird, the toucan, the blue jay, the dove, and the stork. He operated within constraints too.
Have you ever heard of Project 333? My friend Haylee told me about it. Essentially, it’s an exercise in minimalism. For 3 months, you whittle your wardrobe down to 33 items of clothing (to include all accessories, jewelry, and shoes). Thankfully, I don’t include underwear in the 33.
I took on the challenge. Amazingly, I did not focus on what I had not. Actually, with much less to look at and decide from each morning, I was more creative with my outfits. I received more compliments. And best of all, I was more content and grateful for what I have. Another bonus—I had more time on my hands because I had less laundry and spent less time staring in to the abyss of my closet.
Double bonus—I had more time and more money because if I did need to replace a pair of ill-fitting jeans, I was shopping only for the jeans I needed. Before, I would have gone on a vague, open-ended “I-need-more-clothes” kind of shopping trip. On those days, I would have come home with sweaters I thought were cute instead of the jeans my wardrobe really needed.
It was a small exercise for me to let go of the things of the world that I held on to, too tightly. Things I knew would pass away and still clenched my fists around them anyway.
My closet was a fun place to start sloughing off excess and discovering the benefits of restraint. Giving what I just don’t need. And that process launched me to look at other areas in my life. Especially after studying the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and 6.
So, I challenge you. Where in your life would some constraint bring you some freedom? What area of your life leaves you feeling burdened by excess?
Have a goal. Pare it down. And discover the creativity and contentment that follow as a reward to self-control.
And by the way, do this prayerfully, depending on God for guidance and help.
LeadHer's recent teaching video covers similar ground. The guest speaker, Kristen Feola of Ultimate Daniel Fast, wisely warns, “To do it in your own strength is just to put yourself under another form of bondage."
Father, help us. We are fooled to think that our piles can somehow comfort us. Fooled to think that our shopping can comfort us. Fooled to think more food will comfort us. You are the Comforter. You are the Counselor. I find so much more freedom and beauty when I turn to you first. So, please help me. Give me the gift of self-control. Help me exercise it. Set me free from my grip on the things of this world. Help me consider the things of this world like rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing you, Jesus. “Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain that I can’t control. I want more of you, God.” Lead me. Love, your girl
If you want challenged even more, I will post this month's LeadHer video on Weightloss when it becomes available on YouTube.
Also, if you want to start in your closet, check out Project 333.
For more ideas and inspiration, check out the book Seven, where Jen Hatmaker and her family live on only seven articles of clothes for a month, seven food items for a month, and so on for a year. I have not personally read it, but I hear good things.