Minimalism, Decision Fatigue, and Christianity 

Minimalism, Decision Fatigue and Christianity

 

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist defines minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things we value most and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” I think minimalism is frequently misunderstood. It isn’t just about getting rid of stuff. Most often it is not the tangible that keeps us from the things we value most, but the intangible.

Minimalism Takes Different Forms Because We Have Different Values

If you value travel, you may opt for a tiny living space with very few belongings. Since you are rarely home, your income would be better spent on plane tickets!

If you value being a stay-at-home mom and need to make one income work for your family, lavish vacations and eating out will probably be removed to make that possible.

If you value gourmet food experiences then you may eat at fancy restaurants and spend very little on interior decorating.

If you value an active lifestyle then you will probably put your kids in sports and other activities. You might hike and regularly explore new places. To promote those things you will probably have to remove a job that keeps you working long and late hours. Opt for homeschooling the kids so you have the flexibility to go where you want when you want. Avoid involvement in clubs or other communities that require long, frequent meetings.

The common thread in minimalism is removing roadblocks to what we really want to be doing. Naturally this has as many variations as there are people.

In an effort to identify roadblocks in my day, I asked myself what I found difficult, frustrating, stress-inducing, or time-consuming. Things that immediately came to mind:

  • Deciding what to feed my kids for breakfast
  • Deciding what to feed my kids for lunch
  • Planning and making time for activities my children will enjoy
  • Deciding what clothes to wear
  • The messy state of my children’s rooms

These processes were stealing my joy and energy and left me frustrated and spent before I had gotten where I wanted to be. It was an inefficient use of time. I realized that it was the decision making involved in most of these things that caused me stress. I was experiencing what has been labeled as “decision fatigue”.

Mealtime Decision Fatigue

Three times a day, seven days a week, my goal is to create meals that meet the following criteria:

  1. My children will eat it
  2. It’s different than yesterday (variety)
  3. Nutritious
  4. Easy to prepare

That is a crap-ton of prerequisites for food, which makes it an exhausting mental exercise. I needed a food strategy.

Kids Food Strategy - Eliminate Decision Fatigue

I repeat this weekly and sometimes deviate from it, but being able to fall back on it is a lifesaver. P.S. Those vegetables are frozen, and the peaches and pears are canned. Dinner is more varied and is usually when I insist they try new things.

Download a Free Food Strategy Printable!

Schedule Decision Fatigue

I tend to feel a huge load of mom guilt when it comes to doing “fun” things with my kids. I usually feel busy and overwhelmed with my to-do list and think, “I’ll take them to the park later” or “tommorow will be a better day for a play date.” But then I’m just as overwhelmed or focused on my agenda and it never happens. Then Saturday rolls around and I realize they’ve spent the whole week doing a bunch of nothing and are tired of being cooped up. Creating a balance of activities that gives them time to learn and explore and gives me time to breathe and keep house was the answer.

Kids Activity Schedule - Eliminate Decision Fatigue

This isn’t written in stone, but it keeps me on track. I’ve left space for new ideas or spontaneous activities too.

Download a Free Activity Schedule Printable!

Wardrobe Decision Fatigue

My closet contained about ten shirts (not including winter clothes which I wear about 1 month out of the year in FL). Roughly five of those ten shirts were shirts I wanted to wear. The rest were too fussy (hello mom-life) and reserved for date nights or girls night out. As you can imagine, those wearable shirts were always in the dirty laundry pile. When this realization hit me, the solution was a no-brainer! I found a ($6) t-shirt and with giddy, problem-solving inspiration, I drove to Target and bought it in 8 colors. I now get dressed without concerned deliberation over the consequences of my potential outfit choice for the day. Man does it feel good.

To be honest, I still haven’t found a solution to the messy kids rooms. I am a pretty hard-core declutterer and throw-er-away-er by nature, but there are only so many toys you can get rid of before your 4-year-old loses it. So I am still pondering solutions to this one and hope one will hit me. Teaching her to clean her room is half the answer but at this age it requires more of my energy than hers, so it’s a battle. If you have any tips, I would love to hear them! I am also waiting to read Clutterfree with Kids for insight (I’m on the library wait-list).

Take Time to Evaluate

Minimalism is the decision to detach yourself from sources of dysfunction— think of your life as an orchestra from which you must remove the ill-tuned instruments if you want to enjoy the symphony. Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to be doing?
  • What will matter to me 50 years from now?
  • What relationships currently add undue stress to my life?
  • What approaching activities/commitments on my calendar do I dread?
  • What activities/errands leave me feeling frazzled and wondering where my day went?
  • What kinds of purchases do I usually regret?
  • Is my surplus of possessions getting in the way of enjoying my home?

 

Minimalism, Decision Fatigue, and Christianity

Christian Minimalism

I would be remiss not to mention that Jesus is my ultimate example for how to live a life of minimalism. I must consider his example carefully, as what is seemingly a paradox is actually congruent with all that I am called to in Christ.

Jesus on the one hand is very “pro-minimalism” when it comes to earthly possessions:

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33

On the other hand, Jesus calls us to follow him in laying down our lives to serve others—the poor, the outcast, the brother stumbling in sin*. Minimalism focuses inward at how I can make my life more fulfilling by eliminating inconvenience (this is has benefits, as I’ve attested), but convenience is not the measuring stick Jesus uses. He calls us to lay aside our convenience and agenda to love and serve others.

I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me…I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:35 & 40 

*Exceptions exist for relationships that are toxic but that’s a conversation for another day.

While there are many good things to glean from minimalism, we have to guard against the “wisdom” of this world. Minimalism is not a shortcut to joy. Ultimate, unwithering joy is found in Jesus alone.

Spiritual Minimalism

Jesus also calls us to remove things in our life—things that get in the way of what he values most: holiness. You might say that his version of minimalism is far more extreme:

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell!” Matthew 5:29-30

Jesus is calling us to remove the things that carry our hearts away from Him. I pray I learn to practice spiritual minimalism as enthusiastically as I have the other kind.

Additional Resources

{includes affiliate links}

What is Minimalism?

Yes, No, Maybe So: Defeating Decision Fatigue

Minimize Decision Fatigue with a Morning Routine

Maximize Productivity: Here are 7 ways to minimize decision fatigue in your life

A Minimalist Approach to Fitness

32 Reasons I’m Craving All Things Minimalism

A Pinterest Board to Follow: Minimalist Living

Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

14 Types of Minimalists

20 Resources on How to Be a Minimalist with Kids

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

 


What are your thoughts on minimalism? Are you already living it? Just learning about it? What do you love about it and what do you still struggle with? How does Jesus challenge your thinking about minimalism?

 

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8 comments

  1. Edie Emory says:

    This is a great post! I’m going to re-read it again and again and use some of your ideas. As new SAHM (who is also trying to get more organized) this type of info will be invaluable! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Donna Cisar says:

    A great read, thought provoking !! I always love to hear what God is working in your heart & life and trust He will use it to work in other’s. You have many gifts !!

  3. Leah Martin | MamaBearMartin.com says:

    Great article, Stephanie! You did a great job of explaining what Minimalism is all about! It isn’t just getting rid of “stuff” it’s a lot more. The emotional side of Minimalism can be even more freeing that just the tangible “stuff.” Great read. 🙂

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