On Becoming a Bona Fide Minimalist(?)

By Anh Trinh

People who sit near me during church service will know that I tend to doodle in my note book. It’s been a habit since my early days in grade school. There’s no elaborate psychological explanation to this. I simply get bored…very easily. My apologies to Pastor Albert. It’s not that the sermons are not engaging but I thrive on visual stimulus quite often. Plus, it helps me to remember the meat of the sermon. It’s basically food for my long-term memory. Below are a few pen sketches I managed to scribble up during the last couple of sermons.

simplicity02

As I was sketching and listening, I realized how timely the message was in accordance to our recent move. Jenny and I realized that we were in possession of a lot of “stuff” that were not essential to our lives anymore. As I was cleaning out my office area, I started to find myself throwing out things without much hesitation. That may not be a big deal to some but it is for me. I grew up with parents that really latched onto things. They are not hoarders per se but they come from a generation where things didn’t come easily to them and they deeply relished on the things that came into their possession. As a result, a lot of that behavior and mindset was passed onto to me. It took me almost 20 years to start breaking out of this mold.

simplicity01

During my college years, my “collecting” habits started to skyrocket. I hung posters all over my room. I had clusters of art supplies all over my desk and study area which became increasingly noticeable to others. I also had an overabundance of gadgets and toys not to mention a budding collection of art books. It didn’t take long before I needed to reevaluate my priorities in life and my materialism. Having things is not a sin but when they become your idol, that’s when you need to apply the breaks.

Since the advent of online shopping, innumerable computer gadgets and camera equipment became accessible to me and I found myself struggling to get a grip on my purchasing habits. There was always the excuse of “I really need this to do this project” or “this will make my shots look cooler”. Despite my struggles, I’ve gotten a lot better at restraining myself but I have a long way to go in terms of being a bonafide minimalist. I don’t even know what that looks like. I also discovered that my wife is a great resource in regards to telling me what I don’t need. Obviously, she has very little emotional attachment to my toys so it does help in consulting with her…once in a while.

Besides the material part, I’ve also learned that there are relationships that are not beneficial to my walk. Like my material clutter, I’ve since cut those relationships out of my life. Sounds cruel right? How can you cut off someone you’ve known for such a long time? What kind of friend/Christian are you? Well, according to Proverbs 13:20, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” I pray that God will help these individuals find Jesus even if they are not in my life anymore. Once in a while, I find myself thinking about those that I have left. I hope that God will touch their lives and they will experience God’s unconditional love. Removing yourself from relationships is not as easy as throwing away that old VCR. It really takes a lot of prayer and consideration.

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Even though I’ve chosen this course with some relationships, it doesn’t give me license to only befriend Christians. I’d be treading on dangerous ground if I forsook those that Jesus had commanded us to love. Learning how to embrace the Great Commission while still discerning the right relationships in our lives is still very much a struggle. When doubt takes over, I look to Jesus to be my compass.

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A long time member of Trinity Church, Anh works as a graphic designer, and is also a heck-of-a good dancer and photographer. These are his notes from Pastor Albert’s recent sermon series: SIMPLIFY: LESS IS MORE.

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2 thoughts on “On Becoming a Bona Fide Minimalist(?)

  1. Sitting up front and doodling?! Classroom taboo. Bwaha, I sat behind you once and noticed you sketching certain pastor’s face. I am so in awe, so stoked and so grateful for your collection of art books!! Baha!!! But hurra to banishing clutter in all its forms and sharing the detox story with us :)May you notice a greater peace of mind, stronger focus and a clearer sense of God’s voice.

  2. I’ve always had a struggle with material clutter. Just like many Americans, I love buying crap. And then I hate dealing with it later. Storage, upkeep, maintenance. Not to mention the moral problem of waste and exploitation.

    I think that second aspect has made me recommit to being conscious of my consumption, the fact that, if order for me to buy some new gadget or fashion, someone else in the world is suffering (either from lack of resources or directly as exploited labor).

    There’s a dude that recently launched Fairphone, a fair-trade cell phone manufacturer. He said something I took to heart, “Consuming is a political act.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/fairphone-ethical-smartphone_n_3936046.html

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