There’s a cycle I’ve observed in the world.
In fact, I see it in my own life.
It goes like this:
Two individuals get married. They have two incomes, plenty of time and enthusiasm. They are excited about their careers. This allows them to have the nice things they want, so they purchase a home on the upper end of their budget, finance cars, get cable and iPhones and overall adjust to a comfortable, tasty, fashionable lifestyle.
Then kids start to come onto the scene.
Now time is more precious and careers seem less shiny. Yet this current lifestyle holds no flexibility. Father or mother may long to work less, but they must stuff this longing and work long hours to survive in the world they created.
Financial stress is now an unwanted but ever-present limitation and reality.
I have seen this in my own life lately. While I was able to quit my job upon becoming a mother (which was my hope), my husband and I now must do quite a bit of side work to make ends meet. Our busy seasons make life feel anything but simple.
In fact, they make me want to sell our house and buy one half its size and change our lifestyle completely.
But we don’t.
We are deeply entrenched in our lifestyle.
While there is much to be said for dedication and hard work, there’s also much to be said for valuing the things that truly matter with the way we live our lives.
As we know, we only get one life to live.
Every day and year of that equation is God-given and precious, meant to be lived abundantly, not under the weight of a lifestyle we can barely sustain.
–Not under a cloud of stress, or over-worked. Not with money calling the shots in our lives or ruling our thoughts.
So, while I don’t do this perfectly, what I’m suggesting to you is this:
Living simply means living well within our means.
Living well within our means is purchasing a home and creating a lifestyle that leave a generous margin for saving and giving.
It is breaking the power that money holds over us so we can work less, stress less, and live more, be more.
We only get one life to live, and many times we miss the point of it.
In Luke 12:15 Jesus says,
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Do those who die surrounded by heaps of every fine thing and all money can buy, die the happiest?
Or is it the one who has loved well, kept faith, and found true contentment apart from the relentless pursuit of more?
I think it’s the latter. That’s who I want to be.
So lets move forward with this in mind, to stretch ourselves less and live more within our means, even when it means doing without –to find contentment and be generous exactly where we are.
Where do you find yourself today? Do you enjoy the simple way of living solidly within your means? Or do you feel stretched?