Photo of Captains Matt and Emma MooreCpts Matt and Emma Moore. Cpt Emma Moore embraced the Partners in Mission campaign by reducing her belongings to only what would fit in one bag (Photo: Lena Pobjie )

My One-Bag Life

Living on less taught me how to live more.

May 9, 2017 by Captain Emma Moore


Ten years ago, I lived in a country town. Etched in my memory is a T-intersection with a general store, where three roads met. One road was paved and led back into the city. The other was unpaved and dusty, winding through rolling hills toward isolated farms.

This junction, or intersection, reminds me of the place I found myself recently: a wife (to Matt), a mother to two small children (Zephaniah and Ezra) and a Salvation Army officer. I longed for a simple life, but the clutter of my every day was overwhelming. I was at an intersection. One road continued toward more clutter, and the other led to a very different place.

In The Salvation Army, the Partners in Mission campaign marks a time of self-denial for the purpose of raising funds for overseas mission. Each year, I forgo something to be able to set aside funds for the appeal. This time, as I faced the junction, I realized that things had to be different, and embarked on a journey of simplifying my life.

Photo of sports bag

Making tough decisions about what to pack

As Ash Wednesday approached, I reduced my personal belongings—clothing, shoes, toiletries, books and study items—to the bare minimum, and packed them in a sports bag slightly larger than the carry-on baggage allowed for most airlines. For 40 days, I lived off only the items in the bag. During this time, I didn’t purchase any new items and didn’t use any belongings that did not fit in my bag.

For me, reducing my belongings was a spiritual exercise above all else. As I stripped away the clutter, my hope was to make more room for Jesus to be a louder, clearer voice in my life.

Through my “one-bag life” experience, my life was changed for good. I admit that I am still weak in my approach to material goods, but I have learned that when we say “yes” to only a few things, we can easily say “no” to the excess. This realization gave my life beautiful space or margins, and it is here, in this space and in these margins, that Christ speaks so clearly.

It was an experience on the unpaved, dusty and winding road leading out of town, to a place of amazing beauty.

Captain Emma Moore and her husband, Matt, are mission leaders at Booth College in the Australia Territory.

Read Captain Moore’s journal about her experience here: others.org.au/integrity/my-one-bag-life-journal/.

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