Dollhouse on a Prairie

A status I posted on Facebook yesterday after watching the documentary, TINY: When did I get the notion that accumulation meant success? Life isn’t about stuff, it’s about memories and relationships. Perhaps the very thing I need to rebut the cracked, dry, and empty “success” dream that has been propagated by our culture, and refrain from consumerism, is a tiny house.

Elaborating:

My father has told me that my current space is too small for mine and Frank’s needs. Frank and I are a couple. Do we really need anything bigger than a one bedroom apartment? A two bedroom apartment would strap us financially. I’ve considered moving to a studio to save even more. Downsizing would jolt my father and have him shaking his head in disbelief. Perhaps downsizing is what Frank and I need to remove ourselves from this imagined impression of prosperity. I need to get over this approval addiction and live in freedom.

Our apartment looks cluttered because we’ve accumulated junk. Somewhere along the path of life we bought into the American misconception that materialism demonstrated richness. A rich life is not investing in rusted, dust covered stuffed shelves. Richness comes from an investment in community, in sustainable living.

You can’t sustain the economic output of a mansion. Mansions are deceiving. Their grandeur masks the emptiness in the lives of those trying to maintain its upkeep. Rooms can be stuffed with furniture and gadgets, but what is stuffing the souls of the consumer?

I want my soul to be stuffed with an eternal mindset. I don’t want a life puffed up with moth eaten goods. I want significant community.

I didn’t know what I had in my tiny apartment. When I first moved out of my parents, I lived in a 238 square foot space. There were plumbing issues and poor design that probably contributed to my detest of that living arrangement. The mold splattered walls also made me sick. However, I had freedom in my life. (Though I didn’t realize it then.) I had less space to clean and more money to give. This shelter wasn’t the best, but it freed me to devote energy to things of greater importance—Jesus Christ, family, and friends.

“ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mk. 10:25)

Money is a tool. It is not evil. However, the American dream is a nightmare. It has turned money into a vessel through which useless goods have poured into our lives. Americans are busy. We are noisy. We are so distracted that we can’t sit and listen long enough to hear the still small voice. Our culture has made us blind and deaf to God’s presence in our lives. Then we blame him for not working. He is talking, if only we’d stay and tune in.

Materialism numbs our souls. Americans are afraid of vulnerability. When we open ourselves to community, we open ourselves to responsibility. As we invest in humanity and lose our grasp on stuff, we’d see the barrenness of hoarding and how materialism has made us severely bereft.

This 9-5 job, spacious apartment, and green packed wallet has sent me yearning. Could it be that I haven’t learned contentment here because I’m already packed; packed with suitcases of American prosperity, not God’s? Contentment isn’t found in trotting the globe, updated fashion, or ritzy homes but in relationships- relationships with Christ, family, and friends.

This little house idea might just be the ideal construction. It could clear my life of clutter, making space to see God’s hand moving and hear his voice speaking. Yeah, I’ve never felt at home here on earth and I’m not really supposed to. Though maybe this little house could bring me as close to home that I’m going to get this side of heaven.

Check out my current personal favorite: http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/products/b53

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2 Replies to “Dollhouse on a Prairie”

  1. As you know, I’m really interested in this too! We’ve had the same comments about our house– people often tell us it’s a great “starter home.” As if there’s no possible way we couple live in our house long-term. Our house is just over 1,000 square feet, so not tiny, but by American/worldly standards, very small. I think I’ve told you my New Year’s resolution/goal for 2014 is to reduce our belongings by half. It’s a lofty goal but I figure even if we only reduce our stuff by 10%, it’s 10% less to clean and organize and spend money on… 10% more space and breathing room. Any progress is good progress!

    The biggest struggle I have with the tiny house concept is when it comes to hosting people. Chad and I both love having people over for holidays, get-togethers, and meals (as you well know!) And we really feel like it’s an important way for us to reflect the hospitality of God’s love and build community. And we definitely feel like we can do that in a small home– we used to do it in a small apartment. But I know other people have commented that they feel our house is too small for that. I know some of my family members would rather go to someone else’s bigger house than have a family get-together at our smaller house. So that’s hard sometimes to compete with what everyone thinks, and also genuinely want everyone to be comfortable and feel welcomed with us. But we’re so much happier in our small home, I would never trade it in for something bigger, even if our family gets bigger.

  2. I totally agree on hosting people too. I did find it difficult to have friends sleep over in my 238 square foot apartment. I wouldn’t mind the 890 sq. ft 3 bedroom house link I posted here though. I think that is big enough to have lots of people. (Any other country they’ll squeeze into 200 sq. ft and be fine; I want a little bit more breathing room than that.) I think Frank could live in a closet he’s so introverted, but being an extrovert I love having a revolving door of people in our home. I love your house and feel it is quite large. You’ve made it so quaint and comfortable. I also love spaces with storage. I want a library, but if I could somehow have built in shelves that wouldn’t take up space, that would be better. I enjoy talking about these things with you. 🙂

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