We All Long For It....
But What Does It Really Look Like??
I might be wrong, but I think in today's culture we tend to look at the Simple Life as less responsibility, fewer time constraints being free to do as we wish when we want to, or possibly even not being tied down to one particular place, job, or person.
I would like to challenge that picture of Simplicity if I can.
It is something my husband and I mention and joke about, to be honest, as we are busy in the hustle and bustle of our daily grind (which in my home can feel as though it is grinding DOWN on us)......"don't you just wish we had a simple life babe?". I have to admit, the first idea or picture I had of a simple life was some of the things I mentioned above. In our home it involved talks of living out on a large piece of property, a farm possibly, and doing things the "old fashioned way". Let's get animals like chickens laying eggs and goats and of COURSE horses (specifically requested by my 11 year old). Our kids would work the land with us, having our garden growing our own vegetables and their chores would involve keeping up with that and taking care of the livestock. Oh what a pretty picture that painted in my head.
UM....snap back to reality please....we are NO Little House on the Prairie group
Ok, so maybe I've watched one too many episodes of Fixer Upper and their "farm house"... (and to be honest...I also chose to forget we don't have the same amount of money they do to keep all of that running lol). In the middle of my blissful day dream I snapped back to reality which included kids arguing over who was going to empty the dishwasher or who was going to load it and trying to negotiate loading cups or silverware or pots/pans....the famous member of my family "not me" had once again left his/her drink and plate in the family room and...well...at that moment my fantasy quickly faded and reality hit me in the face. Our current lives were anything BUT simple....and to move it to a bigger piece of property with just a different set of chores was not going to accomplish simplicity either. It would just be a different set of arguments and negotiations.
We Get Lost In All The Stuff
It wasn't long after that while I was cleaning my home( by myself I might add) that I just became overly frustrated with the amount of "stuff" we had. I was looking at all I was having to pick up, dust, and put away and thought this is absolutely ridiculous.
When did we get all of this? Why did we get all of this?
I began to look around and do an inventory of things we needed vs things we wanted. You know what I realized? So much of what we had in this house were WANTS with very few NEEDS. I think it was at that moment that the phrase "The Simple Life" began to take on an entirely different meaning to me.
What if we just kept and had things we needed and a few of what we wanted but got rid of the rest?
We had been really emphasizing to the kids over the last year, as well as holding ourselves accountable, to knowing the difference between a need and a want. Not for everyone, but in our home, if our faith in Christ was going to be what led the way. Saying we don't have money to help the needy or invest in a mission or project can't be the excuse when we find the money to spend on our wants. That was the reason behind the lesson. It was clear to me that we had a LOT of things that could help others out. At that moment, I began to look at making some radical changes.
I think the more I learn about God, the less I want to hold onto "things"
I began to take pictures of my china cabinet, my sets of china, all kinds of decorative plates and knick-knacks that I had here and there all over my house that I either NEVER used or barely used. Why did I need to hold on to them? Besides having to clean the glass doors and polish the wood, would I really miss not having those things in my house? Don't get me wrong, I like to have nice things. Who doesn't? The REAL difference for me was when I began to question my motive for having nice things and asking myself "why, if I had the money to go and splurge or buy those items or name brand items, did I not feel that I had the money to support someone in need or be involved in a ministry of some sort"?
Jesus made Himself available to meet the next "nobody" that crossed His path. He was about People rather than Projects. He invested his time and energy into People, not things.
In other words, my conviction level was at an all time high for my "purpose behind the stuff". Did I want to invest in the eternal or the here and now? Did I want to improve on the inside or on the external? The story of the rich young ruler came to mind as I was pondering these questions. He wanted to follow Jesus, but when asking what he had to do Jesus replied "give up all you have and follow me". What the What??? Pretty tall request wouldn't you say? Sadly, the young ruler must have agreed as he walked away.
So, I began to redefine my meaning of wanting "The Simple Life". I wanted it to be about investing in People not in Projects. I wanted it to be about investing in someones eternity, not filling up my space with things that added no value to life. To me, the Simple Life is about having a life as Christ had while he ministered on this earth. Having a schedule open enough, held loosely enough, that I am ready and able to meet that next "nobody" that crosses my path. It is about meeting the needs of the widows and the orphans. It is about pouring myself into others as Christ did. It is about letting go of the things of this world that can so easily pull you into the comparison trap and make you try to "keep up with the Jones's".
Having an "Other's first mentality" and "Others first actions" make it Simple. Having a "Me first mentality" and "Me first actions" tends to complicate everything. Majority of my sessions I have with clients comes down to that one issue which is causing damage,unhappiness, and turmoil..."Me First". I see it in my own life and in my own home. My selfishness, pride, resentment, and any other sinful behavior suddenly gets in the way. As I have begun to let go of the things in my house I have had myself surrounded by.....I have been able to see things so much clearer...more simple really. Sure the first few things I packed up to give away or sell made me a bit sad. There were memories attached to these different "things". But my conviction was stronger than my sadness. Before long, I began to see how freeing it was.
Letting Go And Letting God Is Never Easy
I believe it IS necessary to have a Simple Life. Your life is lived for the main reason of giving Him glory and representing Him well. It is about being a servant leader, submitting to your spouse, not making anything and everything about your own comfort or lack of responsibility. I think of the verse in Hebrews that causes me to ask "Does it get in my way?" or as John Piper put it, "Does it help me run?". We know to lay "sinful" things aside, but this verse calls us to do more...to also lay aside any weight or hindrance that keeps me from "running the race". What are those weights? Anything that gets in your way of completely and fully serving Christ.
The Simple Life is simply to Live a Life like Christ. Try it, simplify things, get rid of things you have "just to have".... I promise you this.... it IS freeing, it does feel like a weight lifted off your shoulders, and it keeps your eyes on the eternal.
Who could you bless with your "stuff" today? It truly is better to give than to receive.
Until He Calls Us Home,