Thursday, March 31, 2016

April Newsletter Submission (such as it is)

Could you live in 600 square feet?

That is the premise of the Tiny House movement, as shown on shows like “Tiny House Hunters” (and many of those houses are much smaller than 600 square feet). The premise of the show is a family looking to buy and live in one of these houses. The movement sells itself as a low-cost housing solution.

It is an interesting idea. It would push one to be VERY selective about what one keeps and what one can do without. And that is where I think it has the most merit.

Most families could not live in such a small space and remain healthy. Particularly in a climate where you spend a lot of time indoors. I suspect most of us would be at each other's throats in a relatively short time. And indeed I have seen at least one article that suggests many families end up not using their tiny house as a primary residence. But the question of how much stuff we have remains.

Over the last few decades average house sizes have continued to increase, even while average family size has decreased. By current standards the 6 of us living in a 1200 square foot (plus finished basement) 3 bedroom house are cramped. We have different assumptions about how much space we need to live than earlier generations did. We also have more stuff and larger furniture (think overstuffed couches and queen or king sized beds). Indeed many people find that the amount of stuff they accumulate expands to fill the available space.

I wonder what we would do if we had to move in to a house half that size.... Have a big yard sale? Donate a couple truckloads to Goodwill? Then again that may not be the worst idea (the purging and culling – not the moving into a tiny house).

I am remembering that Jesus challenged his followers not to worry about possessions, or even to worry about where their next meal was coming from. Jesus sent his followers out into the world with instructions to carry pretty much nothing.

Where do we find the middle ground between living wholly on faith and trust and relying on the kindness of strangers versus accumulating stuff and ensuring we have at least 3 days worth of basic supplies in an emergency kit (ironically most of us, even with all our stuff, don't have that emergency kit)?

I am not sure. But I do think our faith challenges us to do so. Our faith challenges us to rethink how big our houses need to be and how much stuff we have in part as an exercise in determining priorities. But the big reason our faith challenges us on our possessions is as an exercise in stewardship.

What do we do with the gifts God/life/circumstance have given us? How many of us have so much stuff that we could not possibly use all of it (how many of us have stuff we forget we even have because it has been in storage for so long)? I know we do. We can barely use our basement as living/playing space. Yes, in our case much of it is gifts given to the girls and/or inherited things and hand-me-downs. But still I have to wonder if this is a model of good stewardship.

I encourage all of us to consider what we have in our lives that we could cull down and/or do without.

And as it happens... the garage sale is coming up. Maybe our culling and thinning can end up providing more treasures for someone else to bring into their lives.

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