I am building a house right now and I am so excited. I love houses; love designing them and decorating them and making them pretty. I just don't love moving in and out of them and I especially don't love that my house isn't ready yet and I will be spending the next several months in a tiny little trailer that is my temporary home.
But God is using this 500 square foot trailer to change me. He is teaching me a lot about organizing and simplifying and prioritizing. But mostly He is teaching me about space.
500 s.f. isnít just a whole lot of room folks. I mean, I can just about fry an egg on the stove from my couch here in my little trailer. Living in this little bitty place is veryÖ intimate. But what I am learning is while this little place is tee-tiny, it is also very safe and very cozy. The trick of a small space is knowing how to fill it.
I realize that there are noble people out there who live in and with far less by choice, often for the sake of ministry or being able to serve others. I hear of people who go to Africa and Cambodia and live in tiny tents and huts and share the gospel and dig wells. I think those people are amazing. I also think those people are very different than me.
While I have certainly lived most of my life with far less, it wasnít ever by choice. And while I have always fancied myself one who didnít need much, making the adjustment to this little space has been hard. Letís just go ahead and point out the obvious here: I am spoiled. I have gotten real used to having ďmy space.Ē I like things like giant tubs small children can swim laps in and walk-in closets. So my temporary space here, with its one bedroom (second bedroom clearly had to be used as a closet for all my stuff) and outdoor shower has been an adjustment.
But you know what? I love it.
And like I said, God is teaching me a lot about life in this place. I am learning that small spaces need extra attention to detail, extra care. I am learning that living with a hubby and 2 doggies in a tiny space can either be wonderful or miserable at any given moment, depending on my attitude. I am learning that because this space is so small, I should be very mindful of how I fill it. I am learning to sort through all the junk in my life and pick out the things that are most important, most necessary; that make my life full.
The thing about this trailer is that there is no extra space. Just 500 s.f to use (wisely) to fit all the essential items for life. And when we were packing up to move into this place, I had to choose (wisely) what I thought I would need and what I could live without. I knew that if I didnít, I would be cluttering up the tiny space I had to live in. Some of that sorting was really hard. How am I supposed to know what shoes I will need from now until January? Impossible!
And the thing about life is that there is no extra either. We only get so much time to live, so much love to give, and so much energy to give it with. God is awesome in that He stretches us. He fills us with His Holy Spirit and gives us the capability to love more like Him, live more like Him just because we are His. But because we are human, our time and energy and love are not infinite. We have to choose wisely.
I think we live in an age of more more more more more more more more more. I think we try to have more things, do more things, be more things to more people. But God doesnít call us to more, He calls us to His best. So when we spend all our energy striving for the more, we set ourselves up for failure. We end up empty and burnt out. We have to sort through the junk, through the mess, through the more. We have to discover and then fight fiercely for the things that are best. I love that living here is teaching me which things in my life take up space that I really need for what is best.
When we got all moved in to this trailer, there were a few things we brought that we thought we would need that we have discovered we donít. Some just took up took much space that we really need for something else, something better. So we have had to sort and re-sort to make sure we have room for those things we really care about. We had to make the best use of the space. And one thing we discovered we could live without is a TV. I know, I know Ė we deserve medals. But the truth is, we didnít watch all that much to begin with and what we did watch was pretty useless. So when we determined that there really is no good place to put the TV here, we just took it back to storage. I actually think it is wonderful. I am hoping it will give us more time to read and talk and be outside. I am hoping I can do more studying and writing without that distraction. I am hoping we can use the time that we used to just turn on the tube and zone out to connect and relax instead. And so far, that is just what we have been doing.
We have been doing things like taking walks and sitting on the front porch swing. Weíve been talking more and taking the dogs out in the golf cart down to the lake and just letting them run and play. Instead of just sticking them in the yard and going back inside to veg out in front of the television, we get to hang out as a family and have fun together. This is definitely something else, something better. This is definitely best.
So I am learning that the TV is something that takes up the space of something better and that life just might be a whole lot fuller without it. Note: this noble opinion will inevitably change when football season gets here. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is not Godís will that I miss a Texans game. But maybe the biggest lesson I am learning about space and using it wisely is in my relationships. Again, I only have so much time, so much energy, so much love. And while I believe that God calls us to love everyone He puts in our path, I think we also have to be mindful of who and what gets our best.
To me, it seems like God blesses us when we prioritize things in a way that are most pleasing to Him. For me, I believe this looks like: (1) my relationship with Him (2) my marriage (3) my other (wisely-chosen) close relationships (4) my ministry (5) my work. Then whatever is left over can be thrown about like candy at a parade. But again (sorry for beating a dead horse here) there is only so much of me to go around. So I have to prioritize wisely so my best goes to the things God has asked me to give it to.
And to go one step deeper, relationships, like this trailer, areÖ intimate. And just like this little trailer, I must choose wisely what I put into them. Because if I donít, I end up with a whole lot of clutter and junk and leave no room for the best.
For those of us ďstrong personalitiesĒ so full of ideas and promise opinions and words, we have to sort through the things that we want to say and do and try to use that space for something else, something better, for His best. We have to stop for a moment, sort through the junk, and choose the words and emotions and actions that make our intimate spaces very safe and very cozy.
This is so so so hard for me.
I am an organized person. But I am also a creative and rather unfiltered person. My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas and emotions. And when things pop into my head, they pop right out of my mouth. I say what I think and mean what I say. But I think roughly 1000 things about one topic at any given moment, and if I havenít sorted through those thoughts and compared them to the truth of scripture, they can feel and sound like a truth when they arenít quite that. They can clutter up my relationships. And when that gets messy, my balance gets off. And when my balance is off, my priorities get jumbled. And when I am living life with no balance and jumbled priorities, my purpose gets forgotten.
When I donít take care of my small spaces, my big picture isnít His best.
Thereís no room for clutter in intimate spaces. And there is especially no room for it in our relationships. Thereís no room for hoarding or junk or the petty things that take up the space of something else, something better. And yet we pile it on, pile it in, pile it up. Unforgiveness, bitterness, negativity, a critical spirit, sharp tongues, impatienceÖ these are the things that will clutter a relationship and fill it so full of junk that you donít have room for the good and better things. The Bible tells us patience, kindness, humility, a servantís spirit and love are those better things. These are His best.
I want those better things, donít you? And I love how this little trailer is reminding me and illustrating for me that there is only so much space in life. We must choose wisely the things we fill our homes and lives and relationships with. We must choose the something else, something better. We must choose His best.
FINALLY, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WHATEVER IS TRUE, WHATEVER IS NOBLE, WHATEVER IS RIGHT, WHATEVER IS PURE, WHATEVER IS LOVELY, WHATEVER IS ADMIRABLEóIF ANYTHING IS EXCELLENT OR PRAISEWORTHYóTHINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS. PHILIPPIANS 4:8