It is time to gear ourselves up for one of the more difficult aspects of RVing…downsizing. Whether you are planning short-term trips or are ready to take the plunge in to fulltime RVing, you will need to consider how to organize your life and prioritize your belongings to make the shift to living in a smaller space. Even if RVing is not something you are interested in, this lesson will still be helpful no matter your stage of life. For our story, we actually began downsizing over a year before we had any thoughts about RVing. For us it began when we realized that keeping up with some of our “stuff” kept us from the relationships that were important to us. When my health was at its low point, Chris and I just could not maintain what we owned. We had a ten acre property, and Chris had to cut down trees and limbs after storms, we kept chickens, we had a pool and plenty of other blessings that had become burdens during my illness. We were not good stewards, and our relationships with others were suffering, as well as our participation in our community. We desired growth in these areas, and we knew that how we were living was distracting us from what we knew to be our bigger story. Downsizing played a role in allowing us to make changes in order to release us from our self-imposed burdens and live our priorities.
But, downsizing can be difficult. Once you are on the other side, it is easy to make light of the process, because it is in the past. However, when you are beginning to downsize or even just considering downsizing, the process may seem overwhelming. That is why we are writing this series, to help you find a starting point and work through the process effectively.
Before we address the practical steps of the process, we want to first share with you our thoughts on the matter of downsizing. Downsizing is not about obsessing about materialism or consumerism, judging others by their stuff, pursuing a sense of immediate gratification or temporary happiness, or pairing down to one fork and dish and a hut in the woods. We certainly do not want that for you. Why not? Because you were created for so much more. This world is distracting, messy and material – we are called to focus on that perfect place that God has prepared for us, whether we have a lot of material items here or not. In this world, we are going to feel burdened, no matter our number of belongings. Kids are messy, and yet aren’t they a gift and a joy? Relationships are messy, and yet aren’t they a big part of our purpose? People bring baggage, and yet aren’t we to love them? Facebook and Twitter are distractions, and yet can’t we use them to grow our relationships and businesses? You see, we will never be able to eliminate the mess, clutter and distraction of this world. We can make our lives as small as we want, or sit in an empty room; but that won’t change the reality we live in.
So, while we recognize that downsizing is a necessary part of RVing, we also want to warn you against making “Minimalism” your sole purpose. Its false guarantee of “happiness” or “freedom” will elude you.
As Pamela Druckerman poignantly wrote in The New York Times, “It’s consoling to think that, beneath all these distractions, we’ll discover our shining, authentic selves, or even achieve a state of ‘mindfulness.’ But I doubt it. I’m starting to suspect that the joy of ditching all of our stuff is just as illusory as the joy of acquiring it all was.” (Source)
Instead, we want to help guide you through the process of downsizing, knowing that it is a means to an end, and not an end in and of itself. This is about living abundantly and lightly, like our tagline. Understanding and prioritizing the areas in life where you should be focusing your time and energy to live abundantly, and then reducing some of the self-imposed distractions that keep you from doing so. Whether it means removing 1 item or 1,000 items for you; we want you to live lightly enough to be able to follow your purpose and calling. We want you to experience for yourself where true consolation comes from.