This past March, my husband’s car broke down. That was no big surprise since it was an older car and was heading for the money pit stage. It wasn’t worth repairing, so we decided to have it towed away for salvage. After all, we still had the car that I usually use and so we’d still have a way to get around until we found a replacement for my husband’s car. We figured that as two mature, resourceful adults, we’d manage.
We did manage, but not as well as we’d imagined – at least not initially. My husband is required to have a car for work, which meant I couldn’t just drop him off, pick him up, and have the car in between to run errands and attend appointments. Adjusting to that meant a lot of missed and canceled appointments and errands left undone but eventually, the adjustment got easier. After all, I’m a mature, resourceful adult, right?
As we watched the impact COVID19 was having on our work and finances, we realized we’d have to make some tough choices. One of them was to indefinitely forgo getting a second car. This would save money that would have been spent on car payments, maintenance, and insurance. This made us think seriously about whether we truly needed another car. We’d become accustomed to being a one-car family. Additionally, we’d have to prune back down if my husband’s job disappeared into the COVID abyss (a distinct possibility) and my ministry continued to be affected. At some point, we’d be looking at retirement and could do fine with just one car. So that was that. We made the conscious decision to be a one-car family permanently.
And that began what I’ve affectionately dubbed “Operation Minimize.”
Now, we plan ahead for what we need to do and where we need to go, group appointments and errands together, nix frivolous and unnecessary jaunts and strive to be good stewards of what God has given us. I’ve gotten used to my feet not reaching the pedals and the mirrors being out of whack when I get in to drive. And, I’m getting better at remembering to push the seat all the way back when I get out so my 5-foot 11-inch husband can actually get in when he drives. The best part is that this has forced us to slow down and not be running here and there all the time.
But, we didn’t stop at the decision to have just one car. We’ve been making other decisions to minimize our possessions and way of life. We’ve implemented the One-in-Two-Out Rule. It works like this: For every one new (or used) item that’s brought into the house, two must be eliminated either by discarding or donating to charity. This includes household items, odds-and-ends, gadgets, furniture, small appliances, and clothing. The only exceptions are items that are essential, like if the refrigerator broke down or the lawnmower went kaput.
This simple rule has transformed, not only our home but our fundamental attitude toward material things as well. It’s teaching us prudence and to foster a holy detachment that encourages us to examine what we have and why we have it. We’re frequently asking ourselves, “Do we really need it?” More often than not, the answer is, “No.” It may be something we’d really like to have, but admittedly not something we must have. In the process, we’ve embarked on a journey toward greater discipleship, stronger trust in Divine Providence, and deeper faith.
The added bonus is that Operation Minimize has grown into a healthier lifestyle overall because it has us evaluating how we live and not just what we own. That’s been a huge advantage! In future posts, I plan to write more about how Operation Minimize has impacted our daily lives and it has been the impetus for changing our diets, home environment, the gizmos and gadgets we use, and activities. I have no doubt that Operation Minimize is one of those projects that will take on a life of its own. What began as an inconvenience has turned into a blessing.