How a Brain Injury Turned Me into a Minimalist

I’ve never been a fan of clutter. At least I didn’t think I was. Looking around our home, one would never have thought I was a collector of anything.

But the truth was, I was the master organizer, the grand arranger, the disguiser of all things collectable. I could hide anything in a cabinet or drawer. I could even hide it in plain sight, making a collection look like a grand array of art.

Strings and old ribbon, cascading like a fountain over an ivory colored lamp. Buttons and gadgets, baubles and beads, in amber colored bottles lined on a shelf. Painted canvases pressed against a wall, brushes stacked in terra cotta pots.

Books upon books, like soldiers on a shelf.

In a closet, in a small corner basket, a pile of material, folded, each color elegantly displayed. On a shelf above, evenly spaced, boxes and packing material, neatly aligned.

Such a beautiful vision of clutter.

Then one day, I was in a car accident. My brain snapped, and within days (or was it weeks?), I changed. My personality became an extreme of who I once was. I no longer just wanted things arranged, I wanted them out of my life. Clutter became my enemy.

Everywhere I turned, I saw clutter. In books and papers I couldn’t read, in jewelry supplies my clumsy fingers could no longer hold. I saw clutter in the canvases I painted, and cards I no longer had the patience to make.

I began to let go, though I don’t remember the first items I threw away. That memory, like many, is gone. But the act of decluttering, the emotion it spun, stuck with me forever.

I think decluttering was my way of releasing my old life, and letting myself become someone new. Over the next couple years, as I changed, so did my home. I slowly let go of more stuff, until two years ago when I did a significant cleanse.

Decluttering, like the brain injury, changed my life. It changed me. But I rather like the person I have become. Like my home, I feel cleansed. I feel like someone new.

To think it all began with a brain injury.

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Would Jesus Be a Minimalist?

If Jesus were on earth today, would He be a minimalist?

Before you answer, read this:

Minimalism means different things to different people, but the image often construed goes something like this: A man sits on the street corner, lazily strumming dirty fingers across a guitar, smiling quietly at the people who wander by. Next to him lies a weathered backpack. The man’s shirt is old and worn. His only mode of transportation are the tattered shoes upon his feet. He is void of material possessions, except a few items of clothing, and perhaps a journal tucked in his pocket. The earth is his home. The world, his heart.

There is another man. He works at a homeless shelter. His home is small, and by society’s standards, is considered poverty level. He owns a pot, pan, one small set of dishes, a spatula, and a large spoon. A mattress is tucked in the corner, a pillow and blanket folded neatly on top. Beneath the window sits a shelf filled with books, many of which he gives away.

Down the road is an executive, residing in a 2000 square foot home. His living room is fairly simple, consisting of a sofa, two chairs, one table, a television, and a small stereo. He has no trinkets, very little adorning the walls. His kitchen holds many dishes to feed the large church group he hosts every week. He owns hiking clothes and boots, pieces he wears often while leading young troops on nature walks. He has one large van. His clothes are few, his shoes are many.

If asked, each man would consider himself a minimalist. Though each one has clothing, some have shelves filled with household items, and one owns a house, each item they own is used not only to better their own lives, but others as well.

We are all unique, filled with individual gifts and desires, each with our own journey to take. Some of our paths require more, some require almost nothing. So if this is true, where does that leave Jesus? What would His journey look like? Would He be a minimalist?

Would He sit on the street corner and entertain us with a guitar? Would He shelter the homeless and give away books? Would He even own books? Would He fill His kitchen to feed His family?

I think Jesus would do those things, and more. I think Jesus wants to fill our souls with beautiful words, to shelter the lost, and feed the hungry. And in our society, I think Jesus might even own a car, and travel the world to see His people.

But He would still be a minimalist. I think He would own only what He needed. I think He would use it to not make His life better, but the world around Him.

I think that’s what being a minimalist is.

What are your thoughts? Would Jesus be a minimalist? Would He live in a large home, or would He own only the clothes upon His back?

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