For most of my childhood, I thought a dog and white picket fence were necessary for a happy life. That changed in my late teens, when I traveled overseas for the first time and my scales were lifted. I saw for the first time how the majority of the world lived.
But deep down, I think I still assumed my lot in life was to live in the suburbs and send money where it was needed. I went to college wondering if I should serve God cross-culturally, and found the answer to my question by the time I graduated. A year later, I moved to Kosovo a few months after Milosevic was nicely asked to leave, found Kyle and married him, and started prepping for a life of language learning and being the foreigner.
The weird thing, however, was that I lived a parallel life that looked awfully like I assumed settling down in the States was my default. We registered for plates and things after temporarily settling in the U.S. We collected a bit of credit card debt on the side. We held on to boxes in closets because it was easier than letting it go. All while hoping and praying we’d be ready to let it all go when we moved to Turkey.
I’m pretty sure I thought of our future overseas chapter as just that—one small portion of our life story; that the “regular” days would be spent with those dishes and sending electronic checks to nonprofits.
We lived in Turkey for a little over three years, raising a toddler and birthing another baby and conceiving yet another one before returning stateside. It seemed like we’d use those white plates after all. They were pulled out of storage and dusted off.
All along, I found a surprising passion for living simpler. God used those refining years in a cross-cultural setting to show me the beauty of trusting Him with the details and freeing up my time and money for the little things in life.
Those plates have seen a lot of love the past few years, moving houses and feeding guests and serving us in the daily liturgy of life—but once again, they’re going in to storage. And this time, we honestly don’t know for how long. My family and I are about to travel around the world, to collect stories and to visit friends and to—well, live life and work and learn. And eat off all sorts of plates, I presume.
When we really and truly trust God with the little details of life—even the important ones, like money and housing—we are free to do both the wild and the small, however He leads. If we’re daring enough to let go of our stuff, then we can pack light and both move about the cabin and live in an easy-to-clean house. And when we bravely say yes to His path instead of our cultural norms, we can happily walk a few steps at a time, even if the ground is unpredictable and looks foreign to everyone else.
I’m learning a lot about letting go as we prepare to go westbound in one circular direction in just a few weeks’ time.
Letting go means knowing there’s a net below us, held by Christ himself, who said He’d never leave us. Stepping out allows us to recognize God as sovereign over details. And waiting patiently until we’re sure it’s His voice directing frees us to delight in the small things while we wait.
There is much grace and freedom in living small, living simply, and letting go of the white picket fence.
I dare you to live simply, because you just might find you’re free to dream both big or small. Both are valid and right and good in God’s economy. But neither are as enjoyable if you’re encumbered with the emotional, spiritual, or physical stuff the world prescribes.
Live free and simply. And trust God with both the big wild and the small daily.