Ever since I learned about the minimalist movement, I’ve been enamored with tiny houses. You know the really tiny houses in the 200-400 square foot range? Love ’em. Or what about the people that sell their homes and pack their families into converted school buses or RV’s to hit the open road full-time? Absolutely fascinating.
As we began contemplating how much stuff we could do without, it became obvious that the amount of space in our home exceeded our needs. We are a family of four in a +/- 2500 square foot home. Everyone’s needs are going to look different, depending on the family and the season of life they are in. For us, we knew that we could be content with less space.
While I do love the concept of tiny houses, they aren’t exactly practical for families with small kids. So we began dreaming of a quaint, little homestead with a garden, chickens and plenty of room to run and explore.
By downsizing, we felt like we could build more margin into our finances and our time. While I’m thankful that our only debt is our mortgage, it is still a hefty payment and it’s a strain on our single-income budget. I was also feeling overwhelmed by the amount of time it took to clean and maintain our home. After a lot of thinking, talking, praying, thinking, talking, and more praying, we made the decision to put our house on the market.
We truly felt like we were doing God’s will; that we were making a counter-cultural move and he was going to bless our efforts in the face of adversity.
Going into it, we knew there would be challenges. The biggest hurdle was the fact that we did not have much equity. After paying the realtor’s commission on the sale, we would barely break even. We were okay with that, so long as we didn’t have to pay to get out of the house.
The other challenge was keeping the house “show-ready” at all times. If you’ve ever tried to sell a house with small kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The perfectionist in me kicked it into overdrive and I could not relax. I was paralyzed by this constant state of fear that someone would want to see the house and everything had to be just so. I was too afraid to cook because I didn’t want to mess up the kitchen. I packed up all my kids’ arts and crafts because there was no way I was scraping Play-Doh off my freshly mopped kitchen tile. It was like living in limbo – we were in the house, but it didn’t feel like home.
It was such a discouraging time for us. We had very few showings (I think we averaged one a month?!) Meanwhile, my neighbor across the street who had listed her home about the same time as ours was inundated with showings.
I struggled. I questioned. I cried out to God. Why was this happening? Weren’t we doing what he called us to do?
We were incredibly blessed to have a realtor who was very outspoken with his faith. He prayed with us at every meeting, and we asked God to “close the door” on our sale if it was not his will for us.
In the end, we decided to take our home off the market. Several houses in our neighborhood sold after ours was listed for far less than we were priced. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for our home to appraise even if we did find a buyer who was willing to pay what we needed to break even (which looked less and less likely considering no one was even looking!)
We had asked God to send us a buyer, but instead he opened doors for my husband which provided an additional income stream for us. So while we thought we knew God’s will for us, he had other plans. Better plans.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
That’s not to say that we won’t move some day. We are trusting the Lord to direct our steps. But for now, we are striving to use the resources he has given us to bring him glory.
If you have ever wanted to downsize, but found that it wasn’t the right time, here are some questions to ask yourself.
What can I do with the space I have now?
I’ve talked a little about my personality type, and unfortunately, hospitality is not something that comes naturally to me. I want to be that gracious hostess everyone loves, but I have to work at it. I’m committed to opening our home to others more often, whether hosting events or just having friends over for coffee.
Maybe God has a reason for giving you the extra space right now. I have some dear friends who are currently going through the application process to become foster parents and I think that is such a beautiful way to open up their home and their lives.
Maybe God is calling you to start a business or ministry from home using the extra room you’ve got. Get creative and think of ways to re-purpose your home.
What can I do right where I am?
Selling our home and downsizing likely would have meant leaving the area we are in now. We would have moved farther from my husband’s job, our extended families, and our church.
Make the most of the location you are in. Spend more time with your family if you have them nearby. Get to know your neighbors if you don’t already. Step outside of your comfort zone – you never know what kind of an impact you can make right in your own backyard.
How else can I simplify inside our home now?
Just because you have more space than you need doesn’t mean you have to fill it up with stuff. Be vigilant about clearing the clutter and getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Simplify your routines. Don’t expect perfection (I’m preaching to myself here.)
Learn to focus on the people in your home, not the possessions. No matter what size your house is right now, that’s all that really matters.
Have you ever had God answer your prayers in a completely different way than you expected? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.