“Complicated” and “simplicity” are stark opposites, right? In fact, one of the definitions of simplicity is “a contrast to complicated.”
Then why does it often feel so very complicated to live a simple life??
We want to have a simplistic, peaceful home, but we also want our homes to have a pleasing appearance, and that often involves money, time, design, organizing, cleaning, upkeep…
A simplistic wardrobe may be our goal, but then we have to figure out basic pieces that mix and match well together, find good-quality clothes that don’t cost a fortune yet don’t look cheap, and we would really like to have some sort of personal style and unique flair…
Or maybe we’re aiming for a simple lifestyle, which can include finding the perfect planner (which will help us keep everything together), exercise clothes and equipment, and all the basic things such as wholesome food.
Now there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, and reading over them, it seems like if we could just have all those things–a peaceful and beautiful home, a good-quality simple wardrobe, and a healthy lifestyle–our life would be simple.
The thing that’s wrong about all of those descriptions is that they’re all focused on the tools. Those matching baskets that would keep the living room neat and organized, that black-and-white stripe top that would go with anything, and that perfect planner.
Sure, they can help make things simpler for us, but we have to remember that they are just tools. They’re just things.
I think that in chasing simplicity, we sometimes forget to simply live.
I am beyond guilty of this. Sometimes I get so caught up in creating the perfect space or project that I forget to slow down and just enjoy where I am, the memories-in-the-making that I’m currently experiencing.
Now, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with creating a peaceful home, choosing a simple wardrobe, or any of the things that we think of when we think “simplicity.” (In fact, I cleaned the house, lit a candle, and turned on music before sitting down to write this blog post so I could have a hygge workspace!)
It’s when we allow the tools to override the life.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Run your (day, schedule, money, life, whatever); don’t let it run you”? That’s kinda what I mean.
Life will happen, your schedule will go catawampus one day, you’ll get a tear in that shirt that goes with everything, and your house will look like a hurricane came through while the kids are playing.
And that doesn’t have to ruin your life. It doesn’t mean that you’re not living simply anymore.
It just means that you’re simply living.
Perhaps that day when your schedule fell apart was the day that a friend called who really needed a listening ear. That is ministry, helping others, and doing what Jesus would have done.
Maybe your shirt tore because you were helping Grandma in the garden. That is serving; love in action.
And that messy house? Just remember the kiddos’ giggles and joy as they chased each other and played make-believe. That is teaching your kids that it is more important to develop good relationships than to keep a spotless house (though teaching them to clean up after themselves is good too!), and that there is joy even in the middle of a mess.
I believe that simplicity–at least as a lifestyle–should be more of a mindset than a setting, so to speak.
It is finding joy in the little things, making the best of what happens, slowing down to make memories, and choosing to put what really matters first: faith, family, and friends.
Simplicity doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to have everything lined up perfectly before you can start living a simple lifestyle.
It is letting go of the need to live up to the stereotype and embracing the life that God gave you right here, right now.
It is simply living.
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