I Have Enough

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334 days and counting.
By year-end, all 365 days.
Paused.
Stopped.
A fast of sorts.

A year in which I spent a total of $10 on clothing for myself. And that $10, only because I got excited at the marketplace fundraiser for The Peoples Foundation for Sierra Leone, a non-profit I’m on the Board for, and bargained for a pair of African-print culottes before I remembered my fast.

Why? Simplicity.
A kind of fast from materialism, scarcity and the general frenzy of stuff.
A way to remember what is more important than clothes and shoes.
A way to affirm that: I have enough …
Because He is enough.

I have enough, because He is enough.

This experiment was a silent one. A pledge I made quietly with God because I believe in slowing down my soul to commune with God and so be enriched by Him.

As I grow in life and faith, I am increasingly aware that the things we love, the things that matter most to us, require time, love and attention to nurture. In a world where we are constantly pulled this way and that, it is so easy to go with the flow, follow the crowd and lose sight of these important things. For me, these are my relationship with God, my marriage, my children, my family—immediate and extended—and living a life that makes a difference. It also means nurturing myself so I do not, in the bombardment of stimuli all around me, forget who I am, and who I want to be in the world. And all this requires discipline.

That is why I love Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. A beautiful and simple overview of the disciplines of faith that draw us into closer commune with God and keep our spiritual lives fertile. I love so much the spiritual truths and principles in this book, that I took a whole year going through it, one chapter at a time. All, that is, except the chapter on Simplicity.

This chapter I quickly skipped over, laughing that nervous laugh that comes with inner discomfort and a deep knowing of one’s own limits and walls. I justified it to myself. Surely, I can’t even be a hypocrite by presuming that I can take on a challenge like simplicity. I NEED all the stuff I have, all the stuff we buy, all the stuff we amass. The TV tells me so. People around me tell me so. Why bother?

Five years later, I realized I was increasingly worried and bothered with financial and material stuff. There were the big stuff questions: How will we manage while we waited for some significant investments to pan out? Home buying and selling decisions? Saving decisions? Then there was the everyday treadmill: shopping for the kids, for the next wedding, the next event, for the house … it seemed endless.

Slowly, a pause creeped into my spirit. I wanted it to stop. I did not want to be consumed by these worries day-in and day-out.

Don’t get me wrong. I think these issues are common for growing families. And my husband and I DO want to live well, while managing our finances within our means. But as our family and responsibilities grow, I find it easy to fall into the slippery slope of “not enough.”

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Therefore, simplicity.

I returned to this notion and thought: What if I tried Simplicity for myself and not buy clothing or shoes for a year?

Those of you who know my love for fashion and my shoe rack know how audacious this is. You may also be thinking—well, you have lots of clothes and shoes so that shouldn’t be too hard. However, for all the spouses and any diva women out there, you also know that the number of clothes and shoes a woman has, has nothing to do with wanting more. You know that “I have nothing to wear!” squeaked with flailing hands in front of a full closet translates to: “I have no new clothes that no one has seen me wear!”

So for me, this was a feat. I’m also well aware that the fact that I can consider this type of fast shows my privilege. I can afford most clothing I want—and that is in fact why I think I need to remind myself not to take the things I can afford for granted and keep it simple.

I was so worried I would not make it to 365 days that I did not even tell my husband—or anyone else—that I was taking this on. I was worried I would fail. And if I failed, I only wanted God to know that. When shopping opportunities presented, I made excuses. I don’t need anything right now. I don’t want to shop. I just spent a lot on home stuff. Yet you know what? I made it to every event, every party, every wedding – all dressed up and looking good. And I did get some new stuff anyway. A birthday present here, a random gift from a friend there. I have not lacked. I have even been purging my closet while I’ve been at it. And now that I have shared this … I will have to make it through December without succumbing to the Christmas shopping sales.

I know in a deeper, quieter way that I have enough. He is enough. I have expanded in gratitude for the abundance that I DO have this year. This year-long experiment has reminded me that I CAN stop the madness and focus on what is more important than clothes and shoes and outward things. And as I do, I gain the stuff that cannot be bought–deeper, closer relationships with God, with my husband and kids, my family and all around me.

As I move into 2017 … why lie … I’m looking forward to shopping, but I’m also not in any rush or frenzy to do so. I’m looking to keep it simple, especially in our current world. I simply want to love God and love my neighbors, no matter who they are. I’m keeping this pause of simplicity with me as a reminder whenever the whirlpool of scarcity tries to drag me back in again. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll do this simplicity fast every few years.

“One moment we make decisions on the basis of sound reason and the next moment out of fear of what others will think of us… Simplicity is the only thing that sufficiently reorients our lives so that possessions can be genuinely enjoyed without destroying us.” —Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Selah.

___________

QUESTION: Lovelys, as we enter December and our new theme of PAUSE, how are you reorienting yourself towards Simplicity? Are you making conscious choices towards simplicity, or how are you approaching this season?

 

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Yabome Gilpin-Jackson
My name means woman … I love the obvious simplicity and profound impact of carrying that name. It’s a name ascribed to the wisdom of an older woman, an elder, and was my grandmother’s. On top of that, my mom meant to also name me Satia, meaning satiated, full to abundance. It is her favorite cousin’s name, infused with the double entendre of a woman overflowing with the joy and blessing of having had me, her 7th biological child. So what can I say about me? I am a woman, seeking after wisdom, determined to live life to the fullest and help, in whatever way I can, others in the world to do so also. I believe in and love God. I am also a wife, mother of 3, academic, working professional, consultant and author. I love learning, new experiences … and fashion. I, Yabome (Satia) Gilpin-Jackson am who I was born to be … and I am (re)discovering that daily. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson holds a doctorate in Human Development. She works, teaches, speaks, does research and writes in the field of Leadership and Organizational Change/Development. She led the teen/young adult ministry at Calvary Worship Centre for over 10 years and has spoken at Christian women's events and marriage conferences. She loves mentoring young women and leaders. In addition to the prior description, Yabome further describes herself as having been influenced by West African, European and North American cultures. She considers herself to be a Sierra-Leonean and Canadian and a citizen of the world. She currently attends Riverside Community Church in Port Coquitlam where she lives with her husband and children ages 10, 8 and 6.
Yabome Gilpin-Jackson

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