I’m going to come forward right away and say that what I mean by a no waste life is a bit different than the usual meaning nowadays. If you’re looking for easy ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, this isn’t the post for you. What I mean by living a no waste life is not wasting time, relationships, opportunity. It’s one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced (I’ve yet to conquer it). Being intentional in every moment of your life sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? I don’t think it has to be. So, I’m going to share a bit about what this no waste kind of living may look like and my own experiences with it. For your sake, I’ll do my best to keep it short (I could write a book on this). You ready?
Why the No Waste Life?
Picture this: there’s not a thing in your house that you don’t use for something productive or important. All your keepsakes and sentimental items have a home, good memories, and a safe place. There’s not a food in your fridge or pantry that won’t end up eaten and everything is nourishing to your body. There’s not a bit of trash in your home, there’s nothing that doesn’t have a purpose. Isn’t that what everyone dreams of? That’s the traditional, physical idea of a no waste life, right? Why not go beyond that?
Frankly, you don’t have a lot of time on earth, but you have an eternity to spend beyond it. In comparison to our time in heaven, this life is maybe a millisecond, so I’d think you want to make it count. That millisecond decides how your eternity afterwards is spent. Beyond that, everyone else is in the same boat. Not only should we not waste our own time and lives, but we shouldn’t be wasting anyone else’s either. How are they supposed to know about this whole deal with Jesus if nobody is telling them about it? How are we supposed to tell them if we’re wasting the opportunities to do so? How are we supposed to avoid that waste?
My No Waste Life
Here’s a bit from my own experiences in (at least working toward) living a no waste life. Initially, it was solely physical things. It was hard deciding that I was going to give up so much stuff that I’d been holding onto, but I knew it would be for the better in the end. There were so many unnecessary things in my life taking up time, space, money, and energy that could be used for better things. I think it’s important to note now that this isn’t me saying that throwing out half of your stuff is the magical recipe for growing in your relationship with God, but for me it made an impact (we’ll go into all that a bit more later, though.)
- I had a ridiculous amount of clothing – packed over half of it up and sent it off to Goodwill.
- I had a ton of personal items that I never used (most of which I only had so I could say I had them… i.e. records/record player, yoga mat, block, and strap, etc.) – distributed those among friends.
- I had a ton of books that I had never read and had no interest in reading simply because I was afraid of hurting the feelings of the people who’d given them to me or again because I just wanted to say I had them – well, I’m still finding homes for those.
That’s where it began. All this physical junk that I really had no need for, out the door. It was my way of “dying to myself”, and it was really freeing at first. I had less choices (and easier choices) on what to wear, my room was way cleaner, I didn’t have stacks of books taunting me with the knowledge that they’d never be opened, and I had less desire to acquire a whole bunch of stuff. But, there was more to be learned, and if I’m honest, it wasn’t until the past couple of weeks that I realized that. Yes, getting rid of all the physical junk I had around was amazing and started a really great change in my outlook on life, but it didn’t finish it.
The next step here would be finding out that there were a lot more distractions in my life than I thought. I figured that after getting rid of all that physical stuff I owned I would be able to focus more and naturally grow in intentionality and productivity and connection with my friends and family. Well, the opposite happened and I was distracted even more easily, constantly looking for things to keep my attention and make sure my mind was occupied by something interesting at all times. That turned into my nose in my phone, fidgety behavior and disconnected conversations, my frustrations coming out quicker than ever, and a very confused young woman running my everyday activities. Because I had expected that natural, flawless growth, I put no effort into making it happen. I actually ended up distracted from so many possibilities to experience the growth I had been wanting. Dying to myself had me feeling pretty… well, dead.
Now this story is not a hopeless one (I don’t think I have a story that is). But the resolve to it requires something that isn’t always easy to find these days. Discipline. Drive. Dedication. Leading up to my trip to Mexico this summer, I fought to be very intentional in the way that I spent my time, but I struggled a lot. I hadn’t really established any reason for me to be more intentional. It wasn’t until I was there, having my contact to my world back home stripped from me, that I realized how much I was really missing. So many opportunities came from situations that mirrored ones I saw in my everyday life in the United States. So many opportunities that I was missing out on because I was letting all sorts of silly things waste my time, energy, money. I was heartbroken for a moment until I caught myself getting distracted by self-pity.
The Second Step…
So, what was different? As I reflected on my time in Mexico, I realized that the whole week I was there I was prepared to be very intentional in behaving in ways that would be glorifying to God and in my personal time spent with Him. The reason was because I was expectant of good things coming from that. When I came home and did another clean out of my room, it started to dawn on me that dying to yourself is just the first step – however that may look for you! If that’s where you stop, you’ll start to feel pretty dead (like I had before). After that first step, you have to make the choice to find a new life in the Spirit and walk in that. That’s where real, full life begins, it’s where the fruit of the Spirit begins, it’s where discipline begins. It’s where wasting time, relationships, and opportunity ends. That’s the reason for intentionality that I was missing before. Now, it’s still challenging, it still takes time for those fruits to be evident, but you don’t give up on a garden after a week without growth.
Now, I’ve come back to my home country with a new determination to live a no waste life. This time, I know why. This time, I’m dying to myself to make room for new, better life! I’ve cut down media time and have tried to make sure that it’s being used wisely. My phone has been cleared of multiple apps that had little reason to be on my phone. I’ve been intentionally seeking intentionality in my routines, conversations, relationships, etc. I’ve stopped letting bad attitudes slide or seeking something to blame for them. There are still things I’m working on, too. Media still takes up more of my time than I’d like, I don’t like having my phone away from me or lost, there are days where I have to drag myself to open up my bible (and there are days where I don’t open it), there are still plenty of times where I’ve acted out or spoke in ways that are not glorifying to God. I’m continuing to find ways that I’m wasting my and other’s time, energy, and money. But this a beginning, and I’m seeing His goodness in the fruit that’s already being shown to me through my attempts. I’ve never had such peace when reconciling mistakes. I’ve never had the kind of self-awareness that I do now. I’ve never felt so joyful or free to express myself as I have since choosing to go beyond dying to myself. This no waste kind of living is a beautiful thing and I’m finding myself being drawn deeper and deeper into His Love.
Hello Beautiful People, thank you for reading! Some passages that relate to this topic and my thoughts on them are included below if you are looking for some more reading. Don’t forget to subscribe to make sure you never miss a post and head over to my instagram @gabrielle____r for more content!
“Living a No Waste Life” Bible Passages and Thoughts
Matthew 15:11, 18
(v11) It is not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
(v18) But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.
Thoughts: What is in your heart is what’s going to come out of your mouth. Living a “no waste life” encourages self-awareness and challenges us to take a closer look at what we’re allowing into our lives. In every new situation it causes us to ask “Is this going to bring glory to God? Will we become closer, or will this cause the things that come from my mouth to defile me?” Ultimately, it protects us and our relationship with God.
Then, the eleven disciples went away to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
Thoughts: This passage clearly states Christ’s command is for us to go! Our effectiveness in this relies on our relationship with God and our willingness to die to ourselves and choose that new life in the Spirit. We are also called to teach people to observe all that Jesus commanded. That means we have to know God and know the Bible (I believe they go hand in hand). One aspect of that is creating constant, regular, disciplined time with God and His word.
I say then; walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are lead by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Thoughts: This passage shows what the differences are between a life lived in the flesh and a life lived in the Spirit. This passage is what sparked the thought in me that not only do I have to die to the flesh, but I have to choose to live and walk in the Spirit! Something I’ve found since going so minimalist in my lifestyle is how at peace I am giving myself the essentials and little else. But, it’s important to note that that change didn’t happen until I recognized that dying to myself wasn’t the end. I had to choose life in the Holy Spirit. When I realized that, change did come and I began seeing the fruit of my efforts. I’ve found more joy in others’ prosperity rather than fighting off jealous feelings. I’m more content in situations where what I was told to expect is much more than what I received (whether someone else told me or I told myself). I’ve noticed that Christ is more often than not the first person I turn to when something is on my heart, and I really believe that that comes from me entering into this knowledge that He is all I really have and all I really need. My material possessions and even the relationships I have with my family and friends could be stripped from me, and I would find comfort and peace in Him. Those things are the good fruit that comes from dying to yourself, and choosing life in the Spirit.
Romans 8:5-6, 18-19, 26, 35-39
(v5-6) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
(v18-19) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
(v26) Likewise, the spirit also helps in our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
(v35-39) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword? As it is written: For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Thoughts: The main thought I have in regards to these verses, is how being spiritually minded leads to life and peace. I believe that the other things that are talked about in this chapter and the previous verses discussed (our commission, fruit of the Spirit, present sufferings, the Spirit’s intercession, our inseparable connection to God and His love, and more) stem directly from that. And being spiritually minded stems directly from choosing life in the Spirit (the core of a no waste life). All this to say, living a no waste life in the sense of time, relationships, and opportunity is centered around becoming more like Christ through seeking life in the spirit and spiritual-mindedness for the glory of God.