I never planned on walking away from everything — until the day it became the best thing I could do.
Divorce is so common in our society we often discount the trauma that comes with it. Disintegration of a family is bad enough, but the financial ruin that regularly accompanies divorce only adds insult to injury.
Many people live with little. Sometimes it’s a choice, and sometimes life chooses for us.
For me, it was a little of both. Divorce intertwined my interest to become minimalist and my obligation to do so.
Life Changed in a Day
You might think failed marriages happen over a period of time, but not mine. Apparently, I don’t do anything gradually.
Early one Friday morning, even before I drank my first cup of coffee, my husband confessed his infidelity and his desire to end our marriage. It was over in a matter of minutes.
We were living in Florida, but my family resides in Alabama, so I made the snap decision to pack up and head home that very same day. Seriously — I had the truck packed and pulled out of the driveway by 2:00 that afternoon.
I was able to pack quickly thanks to the help of some great friends and because I barely took anything. Possessions collected over two decades suddenly felt like a noose tying me to a past from which I needed to be released.
Looking at the effects filling the house from corner to corner, I said out loud, “I don’t want any of this.”
And, honestly, I didn’t.
So we walked away. My two daughters and I took only our personal belongings and headed for sweet home Alabama.
There was one big thing I kept, though: a 28-foot, bumper-pull camper. My sister had already invited us to live with her, but as a total introvert, I knew that would never work.
I did, however, ask her permission to park my rig on her property so we could live in it until I figured out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go.
It is with unblushing openness I affirm it has been almost three years, and I am still parked on my sister’s property — still living in a camper.
The Gift of Time
Early on in this journey, I recognized living simply was not only doable, it allowed me to spend more time with my daughters, who desperately needed me. I needed them, too.
In my mind, maintaining our former lifestyle would cost more than money. Earning coin for unnecessary tangibles translated to days and hours away from my girls, a price I was not willing to pay.
Don’t get the wrong idea. I worked — harder than ever. Working part-time at a local farm while cleaning houses on the side paid the bills, but it also allowed me to bring my daughters along during the day. They had unhindered access to their mom, and I had my eyes on them at all times.
God used our time together that summer, and the therapy of hard work, to heal our broken hearts. We worked through our hurt verbally and manually as we labored side by side.
Why Be Normal?
No doubt we get some strange looks from people when they find out we live in a camper. I even had one gentleman tell me I needed to get out of that “thing” and find a place to settle down.
The truth is, I am settled. Releasing the need to live in a way that most people would consider normal increased my availability and allowed me to direct my finite resources of time and energy toward the ones who matter most.
I don’t want to go back to normal. This works for us.
Through minimalism, my faith has grown as well. My daughters and I have learned to be content with what little we have (Philippians 4:11). Sure, the circumstance leading to our minimalist lifestyle was unfair, but God led us to a freedom we may never have known any other way. We do not feel shorted of anything.
Maybe one day I’ll let go of my cozy little camper and move into a real house. But right now, I have no plans to return to the chaos of materialism and obligation.
As an old country song says, “Love grows best in little houses.” I agree, and I’ll add this: Small spaces cultivate happy campers as well.