As I write, we are trucking down the highway. David is driving, the kids are tightly tucked in their carseats, and we are barreling down this road on an evening excursion. To the car wash. For kicks and giggles, as my cousin James likes to say. The scenario feels a lot like life does sometimes: headed no where fast, and not for very great purpose.
There’s a theme that has been occurring in my life for a while. It creeps into my mind at overwhelmed moments, and I’m learning to act on it. To lean into it. To embrace this theme with fervor.
It’s the theme of less.
I will be frank: I haven’t always been fond of LESS. As a child, I dreamed of more. It wasn’t a real princess dress-up dress if it wasn’t covered in far too many yards of lace, and ruffles, and sequins, and beading. I adored the extravagant. As this theme translated into adulthood, it presented itself as plain old materialism.
She who has the biggest diamond wins, right?
I knew it wasn’t true. I know it’s not true. So why do I, why do WE keep buying into this more is more thing?
I’m learning to love less, and it’s by far the most liberating lesson life has taught me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love pretty things. Great design makes my heart sing. Hoarding it doesn’t do me any good, though. If anything, the consequence of hoarding is the burden of responsibility. Think of it this way: imagine that you owned the Mona Lisa. Can you imagine the burden that would come with that? Insurance requirements aside, the responsibility of needing to share that work of art with society? The framework and infrastructure that would require? Security systems and guards, buildings and maintenance, restoration and preservation requirements. It’s too much for one person, even if it was that person’s only full time job. It’s better to form a foundation, a community, and give the experience of the art away, and let the community maintain the art.
This past weekend, I hit overwhelm, and in trying to summon the energy to manage it all, I realized that I was placing myself under the burden of MORE connection. Make a difference in MORE people’s lives. And I realized: a difference is not made a hundred people at a time. It’s made one person at a time. ONE. And if a difference is made, she will go out into the world and do the same thing. ONE difference, ONE person at a time. And the impact will multiply.
In the relationship realm, much is not more. More friends, more connections, is not more. Less is more. Less of the surface stuff. More of the heart stuff. And heart stuff is hard to come by, just because it takes time. Heart stuff, for me, is a sincere, deep investment in those whom God has placed in my path. Heart stuff is more than just surface connections, it is conversations that happen over time. Less has more impact than more.
As I realized this, I realized I needed to scale down the number of people I follow on social media channels. Not because I don’t love everyone I follow, and then some, because I do. It’s not because everyone doesn’t matter, because they do matter. A whole lot. It’s not because too many pictures are cluttering my Instagram be, they’re not, or because too many Tweets fill my Twitter stream, because they don’t. It’s because, I can’t make a meaningful connection with people if I’m spread that thin. I can’t be focused if I’m constantly distracted.
Far too often, I measure my self-worth by the number of followers I have. And it’s not the number of followers that matters. It’s the number of connections I can make, that truly have meaning and significance, in both my life and the other person’s life. The honest-to-goodness truth, is that I can’t make a connection with 600 people. But if I can make a connection with 10, or maybe even 100, then I’m have a better chance of making a difference in those peoples lives, and if I can make a difference in their lives, maybe they can make a difference in 150 more people’s lives. The impact can spread, but only if I’m focused.
So, on that note, (deep breath) I’m cleaning up my social media. But I’m also going to set up a specific folder in my Feedly so that I can keep up with blogs. I genuinely want to keep up with people’s stories and lives. So if you want me to check out your blog, and add you to my Feedly, leave your blog in the comments.
The challenge to you: where can you spend a little bit of time cleaning up, clearing out, and allowing yourself to find some focus so that you can better impact the important people in your world? We are all headed somewhere in life. Head that way a little bit more slowly, and with very great purpose.