the joy of LESS! part two
There is a new craze that has swept over the real estate market, and I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about it before. I’m talking about tiny houses, and yes, they are considered a good thing! The “Tiffany” is a beautiful tiny house model decked out in a fresh blue color, coming in at just under 400 square feet. And guess what? She is the most viewed tiny house of all time. You can find photos of this minimalistic home in Vogue and Dwell, and I have to say I am intrigued when I look at photos of it!
There are so many advantages to having less stuff. I mean, the kitchen is right next to the couch . . . hello popcorn and movie night! And I’m told it takes all of ten minutes to vacuum the entire place. As fun as this all sounds, I don’t think I could live in a house that tiny—but I’ve got to say, the idea of simplifying sounds incredibly alluring. Not to mention, you’d save a ton of money and time! There would be so much less to maintain and clean, and you’d have much more time to give, save, and invest in things that matter more in the long run.
A wise woman should line her heart with a prayer:
“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:7–9 NAS).
Billionaire John D. Rockefeller, one of the richest men in modern history, was once asked, “How much money is enough?” He flatly responded, “Just a little bit more.”
When I was a growing up, my dad helped my grandparents purchase a small one-level bungalow on East 27th Street in Long Beach, California. Like many of the new post-war houses that sprung up in suburbs all around the country, it was not big or fancy, but it was the American dream of owning their own home and within the grasp of countless middle-class families like ours.
I loved staying in that house on some of our summer vacations. Mom, Dad, and all five of us kids would cram in and fill every corner of that 1,200-square-foot house. There was a tiny, galley-shaped kitchen with Grandma’s round maple table and four captain’s chairs. Us kids would pull up folding chairs to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner around that small little table. Behind the kitchen was a living room with a small loveseat, two comfortable chairs, and a TV. For special occasions like Christmas and Easter, there was a formal dining table nestled up against the wall. Opposite the settee were full-length windows and a screened-in porch overlooking a tiny, shaded paradise jammed with Grandma’s gladiolas, paper whites, hydrangeas, and camellia bushes.
The Housing Act of 1949 had achieved its goal: “. . . a decent home and suitable living environment for every family.” And it was.
It makes me wonder about what the American dream has become since those days. The average home has tripled in size and I think we all could agree that we certainly have more than ever. Bigger closets and garages overflowing with boxes and miscellaneous bins. Could it be a strong indicator of our sliding scale of how much is enough?
One out of eleven Americans pays for space to store the material overflow of the American dream. The storage industry made 32.7 billion dollars last year. Sadly, we are not happier with this “more is more” mindset. In fact, in a survey of Forbes 400 “richest” list, their satisfaction was rated at exactly the same level as the Masai people of Kenya and the Intuit people of northern Greenland, who have no electricity or running water. Apparently, money and possessions can’t buy happiness. That is why we need to take a step back and think about this seriously.
These timeless words of Scripture speak so clearly:
Godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. —1 Timothy 6:6–11 (NIV)