A Quest for Simplicity: Material Girl

Aug 18, 2014
Jason Fileta

I’ve known for a while I have too much stuff in my life. Too many clothes. Too much time on social media. Too much television. Too many random and unnecessary purchases. Too – too – too – too much!

Do you ever have those topics that keep coming up? Stuff you know you should be working on and God knows you should be working on, so you notice it everywhere? In conversation, online, in bright, blinking lights as you walk down the street? (Okay – that last one was a slight exaggeration) – that’s simplicity for me.

While I was writing and editing Live Justly, I felt compelled to take living justly seriously in my life – which started with getting rid of the excess. One quote we used in the book particularly stuck out to me:

The witness to simplicity is profoundly rooted in the biblical tradition, and most perfectly exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ.
– Richard J. Foster

Jesus lived his life simply. So simply. And he called us to do the same!

Last week I wrote a piece for Relevant Magazine, and this is a kind of follow up to keep myself accountable and to hopefully help inspire others to start a journey of their own!

My quest for simplicity began by going through my closet.

I never really thought I had that much. I’ve moved several times in the last few years and thought I got rid of most of my unnecessary accoutrements. I was wrong.
I decided for this first iteration of purging my life of needless stuff, I was going to use the one-year test. If I haven’t worn it in a year then into the pile it goes.

Here’s the breakdown of what I was going to donate:
27 tops (yeah, 27 – that’s kind of embarrassing)
8 pairs of pants/shorts
8 dresses
6 skirts
9 pairs of shoes (not pictured – it was a much more dramatic experience and I couldn’t bring myself to photograph it)

That’s a whole wardrobe on its own!

I moved a year ago and changed climates, so lots of my old stuff was useless – even so it was tough getting rid of things! There are a lot of things in that pile that I like that I figured I would wear again at some point. I have a “just in case” personality. I will often buy things/keep things around just in case I need them.

I travelled a couple years ago with a group of students from my grad school, and at the end of the trip we all got little personality awards. Mine was the “Always Prepared Girl Scout” – I seriously try to always be prepared for whatever eventuality – which makes it really hard to get rid of a super fancy dress that I might need to wear to a super fancy evening out someday. When was the last time I wore it? 2011. Into the donation pile it goes!

I become attached to certain things. I wore this dress for grad school graduation…this was the shirt I got for supporting an awesome organization…this skirt was given to me as a Christmas gift 2 years ago. I can’t get rid of that; it would be rude! You get the picture. But…they’re just things.

I eliminated a lot from my current wardrobe (I do plan on making a t-shirt quilt, though, instead of throwing away some incredible memories that accompany some of those shirts), and I feel like a weight has been lifted already. Not only is my closet much more organized, but I don’t have to waste nearly as much time picking out an outfit for the day. It’s rather lovely.

If you’re looking to simplify your life and donate your clothing (which I encourage whole-heartedly!), The Salvation Army is an excellent place to do so. Not only are they one of our partners, but they do amazing things here in the U.S. as well as abroad! Click here to find a donation drop-off location near you or set up a time for them to come pick things up right from where you live!

Well here you go Salvation Army, it’s all yours…


I’m going to continue this journey and keep you all updated as I do. Here’s a list of ways I plan on simplifying my life:

Cutting back on social media to only 30 minutes/day
Limiting television to 15/week
Eliminate excessive and impulsive spending habits
Clear out the clutter
Let go of the past – stop wishing for the future

If you have and ideas for what I should look at next, tell me in the comments below!

P.S. If you’re looking for some good reads on simplicity, here are a couple options for you – there are plenty of them out there, but this is a start:

Richard Foster’s Freedom of Simplicity was the first book I picked up on living simply. It’s a powerful, biblically sound, book on simplicity. It is also where the quote that helped inspire this journey originated!

Another book that’s quite enjoyable is 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker – A true story about Jen took 7 months to focus upon 7 areas of excess in her life. It’s entertaining, poignant, and full of self-deprecating humor. The best part about her journey was her decision to undertake the task with a community of support surrounding her. So, during her difficult days and good days she was able to both commiserate and celebrate with others.

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