My hope for 2018 is to pursue minimalism. Before you roll your eyes and keep scrolling, this is not the typical minimalism every article and blog discusses. For those who don’t know, minimalism is a practice that encourages the discipline of living in such a way that includes only what has value. It is the idea of ridding things we allow clutter our lives in order to make space and create freedom mentally, physically, and even spiritually.
I’ve been reading “Chasing Slow” by Erin Loechner where she beautifully shares her journey of “finding courage to journey off the beaten path.” I am still processing many of her revelations, but one idea she shares continually comes to mind: All that remains is love.
For me, the first month of 2018 has been full of hurt, anxiety, and the sweetest glimpses of community. My heart has been processing what community means to me. What does it look like? What can I do to make that happen? I attended my second funeral in a month today. At both, I was brought to tears at the community of people that showed up. No matter how strong or brief their relationships might have been with the deceased or with the family, there is an understanding that the only thing one can do during this time is simply show up. Presence shows sacrifice, presence is love in action.
This year, I am seeking minimalism in my relationships. I don’t know if that’s a real concept, but that’s what I’m calling it. Too often I find myself caught up in community expectations and how it “should” look like. I should be making a Pinterest-worthy meal to make them feel truly loved. I should be getting texts to hang out everyday, if not, then they must not love me. I should know all my friends love languages, so I know all the right ways to love them. As you can imagine, these thoughts welcome anxiety and disappointment when it is not my reality.
So what is one to do when he/she is crippled by failure? Turn to Hope. Scripture reveals Jesus’ relationships quite simply. He shared meals, he asked questions, and he was with them. It was as simple and powerful as that.
I want to strip the programmatic stress I put on community in my life. When I believe it should look a certain way, I lose community altogether. In reality, community is as simple as bringing a Chick-fil-a milkshake to someone you noticed earlier in the day had tears in her eyes. It is putting aside your plans for the evening to figure out how to build stools and install a fridge in a friend’s new home. It is driving your friend 45 minutes to stand with her as she visits a loved one in the hospital. It is as simple and powerful as that. It is showing up. It seems minimal compared to hosting a beautiful outdoor party with your mismatched china and twinkle lights, but it is transformative. Hear me when I say there is nothing wrong with Instagram-worthy parties, I just would hate for us to continually believe that is picture of true community. I don’t want to lose the heart Jesus lived out in his relationships. It really is as simple as he showed us. All we want is someone to show up, all we want is someone to care.
Minimalism: making room so all that remains is love. I am de-cluttering my relational life. I’m calling instead of texting. I’m lingering instead of rushing to the next thing. I’m asking instead of being fearful of vulnerability. I am trying to lose the expectations and just love. When we simply show up, all we offer is ourselves. Most days, we don’t feel like that’s enough, but oh, we are so wrong. Presence says, “Hey, I’m here, I care, I see you and being here is more important than anything else I could be doing.” That is how I want to practice minimalism in my relationships, offering my presence so all that remains is love.
words by Lauren Grindstaff and photo by Cate Willis