Originally written March 6, 2014
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think". In the Message version of Proverbs 15:16, it says, "A simple life in the fear of God is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches". I love that. These 2 quotes remind us that a complicated life is well, complicated and not as rewarding or purposeful. I know that I for one want my life to be rational and to matter, if to no one else, at least to God. So, as I have been on the journey to reconfigure my life, it has led me to the goal to live a simpler life.
Since I have been convicted lately about my own over indulgence in a few areas, I have had to look inside as to what needs I have been trying to fill by material processions, especially things for my home and clothes. Ok, shoes too, although its hard for me to accept the idea that maybe its not necessary to have so many shoes! If I am honestly wanting to die to my own self-absorption and set my eyes on serving Christ, I need to eliminate some of the things that cause so much distraction. But since it's a hard thing to do, I need to be able to convince myself of the importance of doing so.
In my study of what a simpler life looks like from a Biblical perspective and ways that it could indeed help me in my spiritual growth, I stumbled onto an online Bible study from Newhopeladies.weebly.com. The writer points out that the definition of simplicity is "freedom from complexity". She also writes, "when intentions are simple and not focused on impressing others, they are sincere and natural. In a nutshell, simplicity with regard to actions and intentions means whats happening on the outside is a true reflection of who a person is on the inside.
As I have been able to free myself of so many false beliefs about God and myself and have started to sever the tethers that I have attached from myself to others out of the need to please them and out of the attempt to get my needs met from sources other than God Himself, I have experienced a lot of internal change. Now, I feel the need to reflect that change externally. God's ways tend to be a little "topsy-turvy" and this is no exception. Instead of doing more in order to please Him, He has set me on the path to do less and to live with less. The kicker is that the "less" that remains will have more meaning and purpose. It will be what truly matters.
So, what are some ways that living a simpler life could be beneficial?
1. Living simply can allow for God to be glorified more as we are able to eliminate our need to be acknowledged. This can be freeing in itself as we are less focused on our need to impress others by what we do or what we have. We can actually be ourselves, take a breath and focus on pleasing the One who really matters. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." We make things so much harder than they have to be!
2. Living simply provides the freedom from the intensity of the distraction of the world and the pursuit of worldly possessions. This is a complicated area because we are always walking on the tightrope between being "in" the world and not "of" the world. Living in either extreme, focused too much or too little on appearances or how we relate to the world can also complicate life. We want to be able to express who we are and remain culturally relevant and approachable, yet not fall into the trap of being consumed and turning this focus into a idol. Not letting it be our focus has to be the key.
So how do we start living a simpler more relevant life? For me, I have had to decide which areas I feel the need to simplify. These areas are going to be different for everyone and we can only tackle so many areas at one time. My areas are:
*personal expression through my home and my wardrobe
* relationships with people
* nutrition and fitness
* life experiences
* my relationship with God
Some of these, I need to scale way back (as in my wardrobe which will be my next post) and some I just need to fine-tune in order to sift out the parts that are not producing the results that are important.
If you are interested in simplifying your own life, I have some great resources to share with you to get you started.
1. zenhabits.net is a great resource although not Bible-based just as a disclaimer. Leo Babauta's Simple Living Manifesto is a great read to get the ideas flowing.
2. becomingminimalist.com. Joshua Becker was confronted with the question of how Jesus would live his life, not necessarily how Joshua would live Jesus' life because that's not really doable in our world today. He wondered if Jesus would have as many kitchen gadgets, or clothes in his closet, or things sitting around unused. Interesting perspective and challenging for sure.
In my next post, I will be sharing the challenge that I am taking on in minimizing my wardrobe. For you ladies you may find this helpful, challenging, yet helpful!