I've had several people ask me what I've gotten from reading 7 and/or question the merit of such a project. Honestly, I was a little skeptical at first and I still struggle to articulate all I've gained from it. Hence, this post that I'm using to process everything.
I really do feel like Peyton and I have both benefited from the intentionality such an effort requires, if nothing else. I will say that, overall, I don't think a whole lot of our lifestyle will be changed by 7 and to some that (understandably) defeats the purpose. For example, though I have cut down, and plan to further clear out, my wardrobe I doubt we'll ever find ourselves washing and wearing anywhere near seven clothing items a month. I also highly doubt that we'll ever drive one car for a significant amount of time. It has s been beneficial, though.
First, it has helped us make little changes- I'm more inclined to cloth diaper on the go, I don't have a paralyzing fear of saying "no bag, please" when I forget our reusable ones, and we've started buying a few things locally on the regular (hello, Great Harvest!). I've started to use more discretion in my overall consumerist behavior, but I still have a LONG way to go and I think I'm more aware of how technology can suck my life away (although I still struggle with that MAJOR).
Secondly, it's really followed in all areas that it has just made us more aware of areas in our lives that need work. I read (and linked to) this post recently about a similar sort of experiment. As Methodists, we practice this kind of self-denial annually (at Lent), but why should it be only once a year? This kind of thing is chiseling and moreover, it leads to finding out a great deal about yourself and your priorities.
Thirdly, it's given me insight into what Peyton and I could do if we had to. Say one of our cars completely goes out in a couple of years when we're thisclose to paying off our house. I know that we could just use one car for a few months in order to finally accomplish our goal of being debt free. Or say for some reason I really needed to give up Coke or some beloved form of technology (I'm looking at you, Twitter). I know that I could do it and the hardship wouldn't be unbearable. Of course, I've always claimed I could do any of this and I know, through Christ's power and my family's support, I could have. But it's nice to have a practice run under your belt, ya know?
Finally, it's an exercise in gratitude. For me this has probably been the most powerful take away. Of course I know cognitively that everyone in America doesn't own two cars, that a family of four across the world could live on the leftovers we put in our trash, and that the guarantee of trips to Target and Mellow Mushroom are not listed among my First Amendment rights. But, in doing something like this, my privilege has smacked me across the face like a tantrumming two year old. The things that are just my ordinaries are really luxuries. It's helped me to not take so much for granted, but at the same time it's also revealed a converse, though equally powerful lesson-- things are temporal. Another head admission that I'm learning to let be a heart submission. Such a powerful dichotomy- our tangible blessings are not to be taken for granted, but they are not be worshiped and loved above all else.
So, there they are. A few lessons from 7. I'm sure there's even more ways this has stretched my heart, but those are the ones that really resonated. I'd highly recommend the experiment!