Are you feeling overwhelmed? Stressed out with too many responsibilities on your plate?
I feel you. I’ve been there. It’s possible you’ve been forced to re-evaluate and slow down your life while in this age of social distancing, but this distancing doesn’t mean stress levels are lower. In fact, we’re experiencing a very different epidemic of anxiety and confusion in addition to this long-lasting pandemic.
American culture has come to glorify busyness -- having a lot of big, expensive stuff, experiencing everything possible (there’s nothing worse than a case of FOMO). But in this time of social distancing, this time of slowing down, we’ve been given a unique opportunity to evaluate what is most important in our lives.
How are you using your time? Is it primarily spent corralling your energetic kids? Or trying to figure out how to work from home effectively? Or perhaps you’ve been sent home from work without an income. Each have their challenges, big and small. All are new and all are difficult.
But let me provide you with some good news. I quit my job, which forced my family to live on a single income.
The Secret To Our Success: Saying Goodbye to Busy
Now stick with me. My decision to leave my job was not a quick, one-and-done decision. It happened in stages. After exchanging my higher salary, and higher stress, position at the newspaper for a more mellow part-time job in our church’s Children’s Ministry, I began to re-evaluate what it meant to lead a joyful life.
When our first child was born, we moved to another state and I quit working outside our home all together. This continued to cut our income, and therefore our belongings, dramatically.
Naturally, we began to shift our mindset. By taking a serious look at our budget, we decided what was important to us, and what we could siphon away. We found a small, no-frills rental. Groceries, rent and utilities obviously had to be paid. And tithing to our church and sponsoring our Compassion children were non-negotiable.
Our little family stopped eating out, and coffee was made at home. Cable TV -- who needs it? My husband made an antenna out of wood and wire clothes hangers, and we made do with four channels. No electronics for our kids, except for our multipurpose PC. I committed to meal planning and sticking to a grocery list.
At one point in our simplified life, we had only one car. No worries, one of us has always worked close enough to walk. So for a few years, we lived on our feet.
This all seems very inconvenient. So why has it made our lives so much better?
We aren’t busy! We can’t be.
A Low-Income Life Demands The Prioritization Of Everything We Do
You learn to say “no” to things that cannot be managed, and to say “yes” to what is truly important. Our family has grown stronger, learning how to communicate our needs vs wants.
I no longer bring home work-related stress. I’m not stuck in a job that may give me a heart attack down the road.
I’m able to spend my energy and time on the people who mean the most to me -- my family. I can keep up with the demands of our household. I can be there for them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
And that’s worth more to me than any paycheck.
Learn To Trust God Completely For Provision
He has shown up in wonderful and unexpected ways and has kept His promise to always give us what we need (Philippians 4:19). This gospel truth has helped us through some really difficult times, including my husband’s unemployment (spoiler: the Lord remained faithful and provided a wonderful job for my husband after a few difficult months).
We’ve learned to make the most of what we have, and to waste as little as possible. It’s actually proven to be a fun challenge! I’ve tested my abilities and have come out the other side a more skilled woman.
You may think this is too difficult an achievement for you. How could you learn to live without the comforts you’ve grown accustomed to? But I promise, it’s easier than you think. One simple question will help pave the way for this new, less exhausting way of life.
How much do I really need to find joy in life?
My advice to you -- don’t sacrifice your sanity to impress others. Don’t sacrifice your mental health for things you only think you need. Cut out the less important noise of life and focus on what matters most to you and your family.
In this time of social distancing, evaluate what is most important, and take steps to come out the other side of this pandemic with what matters most.