I’ve watched the small house craze taking over the media and reality TV with a mixture of fascination and cynicism.
Because I lived in a tiny house for years and couldn’t wait to get more space.
Part of me wonders if it’s a “grass is always greener” mentality we all have—wanting more space when you don’t have any and less space when you do. Is there a right amount? Or is the amount irrelevant?
See, I’m wondering if space is not the issue and if it’s contentment instead.
Here’s how Solomon puts it in Ecclesiastes 1:7-8: “Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.”
I think about the different experiences I’ve had and realize, it’s true, I’m not satisfied. There’s always something else to see, somewhere else to travel, and something else to work towards. When will it be enough?
Part of the small house phenomenon has to do with the idea of living a simpler, uncluttered life. And I can see the attractiveness of that. Filling our houses, garages, storage lockers, etc. with stuff can bring along triggers like debt, overwhelm, and a reliance on things for our happiness. So is there a balance between hoarding and minimalism?
Paul’s letter to Timothy gives me some good advice for finding balance. “After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content,” (1 Timothy 6:7-8).
If I did an inventory of my stuff I think I’d find I have more than enough food and clothing and no reason to be discontent. What if I took the excess and used it as an opportunity to be generous? What if I found people to gift with my abundance and didn’t purchase anything new without getting rid of something first? What if I bring things into my home if they are needed instead of wanted? What would that change in me?
For me, the secret to contentment is keeping focused on what I need—and that is almost never stuff. Here’s my goal: to learn contentment in any situation; with nothing or with everything, with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little (Philippians 4:11-12).