Yesterday I read a blogpost about a woman who recently bought a crib for her first (only) child. She wrote about how her and her husband labored over making the decision over the look/type of crib they wanted to bring into their home as to not upset the aesthetic or compromise their values. The crib was an unpolished/unvarnished wooden crib from Ikea, and the mattress a (used) organic cushion off of Craigslist. Their mattress choice stemmed from this direct quote, ‘For the record, yes: we’re less skeeved out by our baby sleeping on a gently used mattress than her sleeping on polyurethane foam’.
What struck me most about the blogpost as a whole was their clear ability to have the money and the access to choose exactly what they wanted. Settling was not an option, at least in regards to getting the most natural, organic, and minimalist option. This blogger is known for her strict minimalism and all natural ways, she is a role model for many and does indeed give many excellent tips and tricks for living simply. However, as I read through this post I couldn’t help but realize that her ability to choose is so beyond what I can achieve now and perhaps forever.
Justin and I are poor. Poor now, probably poor our whole lives. We’re not without what we need, but no one, specifically in America, would call us well off or anywhere near part of the middle class. We are middle class of the poor perhaps. :) Basically, we don’t have the option to choose certain things that we have in our home. I can’t replace all of the hangers in my closet because they are mismatched, I can’t decide to purchase only certain types of sheets from certain stores, I can’t afford to buy matching furniture in minimalist designs, I can’t afford to buy completely all natural and organic groceries, I can’t throw out all of my cleaning supplies, hand soaps, shampoos and conditioners and replace them all with organic products, I can’t afford to be picky and I can’t afford to need the best.
I don’t say all of that to gain pity, or to boost the pride of the poor who just want to condemn the rich, I say it because it’s true. I would like to say ‘for the record’ that you can still provide for your family, be concerned about their health, their well-being, your home, and your décor even if you can’t afford to buy the very best. I don’t blame the above blogger and I don’t want to make it seem like this is meant to be fuel to be unkind to those who can afford certain things, I truly believe that she loves her family and that she is merely providing in the way she believes best. What I am concerned about however, is that those who can only afford a polyurethane foam mattress could suddenly be thought of as not providing for their families as best as they can. In some ways this comes down to a personal security in knowing that you are working to give your family the best, and this security won’t be intimidated by or victimized by the way others provide for their families, but I think it’s also alright to be able to respond to strong beliefs with other strong beliefs. I truly believe that we should all work towards living more naturally, in what we eat, put on our bodies, and interact with, but I also believe in not going into debt to do so. If I attempted to replicate my life to use the products, eat the food, wear the clothes, and use the things that would be deemed the most natural, most effective for health, and best for living, let’s just say Justin and I’s student loans would be a pittance compared to the amount we would accrue in credit card debt.
And so I live a mismatched life, with the dining room table I didn’t choose, the room décor that doesn’t match, the blankets and sheets that come from Walmart, the food that comes from Aldi, the shampoo and conditioner that contains sulfur, and a mostly hand-me-down wardrobe.
In the end, a lot of learning how to live a content mismatched life comes down to your focus. We are called as Christians to be content in our circumstances, but we are also given the rest and joy from the Holy Spirit to be so! I can find relaxed security and contentment in my home not because I have things that look aesthetically complimentary or are deemed the most natural or stylish, but because I know each and every piece was provided for me to find joy in and use out of! I don’t believe that God is overly concerned with how well your décor goes together, what I know He is concerned about though is how your are using those things to give glory to Him, both by being grateful and putting them to good use! The important part about getting this focus correct is that when/if you are able to have a home where you have everything little detail exactly how you want it, you will still be able to be discontent with your surroundings if you have not found you contentment first in Christ.
With wisdom and contentment I strive to move forward in my mismatched life knowing that God provides good things and that it is not my goal to live focused solely on mirroring my life to those I see around me, but more on contentment with the things God provides and wisdom with funds that He has provided my family to live by! So I will celebrate being able to buy the organic animal crackers at Aldi this past just as much as I will celebrate being able to buy the pumpkin from Walmart for the future muffins that will be made! :)
p.s. Happy October!! Also I left one social network and found myself today asking to join another (ello.co - mostly just from curiosity though ;) )