Adding Value to My Life
By Dani Lindamood of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. -Matthew 4:1-2 NRSV
I didn’t expect to find God in a backpack, in my room, or in a documentary. Yet, find God I did, in all of those places, after spending four months in India.
Pursuing my master’s degree in sustainability management, I am deeply passionate about sustainable development and human rights. I chose to do my research on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6-achieving universal access to clean water and sanitation by 2030. This research brought me to India.
I set out on my own with one expertly-packed backpack and my passport. In India, I experienced vibrant community, healing solitude, quiet moments in nature, and found God in the most unlikely places. I was constantly put in situations many would deem uncomfortable or unbearable, but I was also comforted and made at ease by the love, friendship, humor, and grace of people around me. Being outside my comfort zone pushed me to invest in relationships, to be present, and to revel in the beauty of my connections to people, planet, and God.
I left India feeling full of the Spirit, but was surprised by the overwhelming discontent I felt returning to North America. My bed was too soft. People seemed more distracted. I had two rooms full of stuff-one in San Diego and one in Canada-that no one had touched for four months. These revelations left me reeling and questioning. Why did things that were supposed to make my life more comfortable and easy feel so wrong now? What about my time in India let me live a fulfilling life without all the comforts and conveniences? Why don’t I feel as close to God anymore?
After meditating and praying on these questions, I came to two conclusions:
1. I have too much stuff, a lot of which I’ve collected without intention or purpose or that doesn’t give me utility or joy. I need to simplify.
2. My life is full of spectacular people, and I need to prioritize my relationships, while also sharing about my journey toward a simpler, relationship-focused life.
Internet research and the documentary The Minimalists guided me to one of the most powerful phrases or mantras I have ever used: “Does this add value to my life?”
These words have let me simplify my life by removing the material excess and expanding my practice of intentional living and generosity. The beautiful side effects of creating my own value-added life have been deeper relationships, a more vibrant community than I could have ever imagined, and knowing, perhaps for the first time in my life, that I am enough for God and my community.
God, may my deep hope align with your deep vision. Release in me anything that keeps me from freely following your Spirit. Amen.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Breathe deeply as you enter a time of silence. Become gently attentive to what may be restricting you from faithfully responding to the divine invitation in your life. Are there priorities, attachments, tasks, or motivations competing for your response? What does freedom for God look or feel like in you this day?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.