The lifestyle of simplicity is becoming a lost art, a refinement forgotten. There is an appeal to that life of slow days and basics, where the things you have don’t own you and you aren’t a slave to the clock and at the mercy of schedules. There is an appeal to having the freedom to marvel at the simple things, like the wonder in a child’s eyes, or the sunsets, or the pictures in the clouds. Yet in this culture of busyness around us, a little child’s curiosity becomes bratty, and any inconvenience becomes a crisis. The car-seat trapped child’s eyes become dull and listless as they are carted about too and fro, forgotten in the bustle and hustle of play dates and dance lessons and after school programs and sports and church programs and the list goes on. There is nothing wrong with any of these things to do, there is something wrong though, when these things start owning you, when the commitment becomes too much and the necessities of life fall to the wayside for these activities.
Stress rears it’s ugly head against us, we feel guilt because somehow we have come to believe that we have to do and do and do. We have to give our kids the opportunities and we have to be at the party and we have to go and hang out with so and so, our homes have to be perfect, we have to meet the deadline… and yes we do sometime. However there comes a time to just stop; a season to rest, and maybe, a call to pull away and be left out of it all or at least most of it, to refocus and re-purpose ourselves, our families, our homes and our lives so that we can just be and not just do. There is a saying “You are a human being not a human doing”. The easy life is the life of being busy, because we no longer have to think about what matters- we just find more to do, to fill in the dead spaces, while at night we are haunted by those things that should be addressed in our lives, our character, our children’s discipline, our marriages. We fear the stillness of just being, in which our inadequacies shout at us through the bullhorn of guilt.
In the search for simplicity we need to first recognize the onslaught of expectations we face, and the origin of them. We need to evaluate if those expectations have come to us through sources we can trust or through the subtle influences of media and culture or even through the well meaning influence of slightly misguided friends and family. Each of us has the ability to divide the truth from the lies. If something has you stressed out and feeling overwhelmed and out of control or attacked, degraded and worthless it is not of value* to you. Usually the progression seems to follow a pattern of what we want, typically, we want to be liked**, thus we feel we must measure ourselves according to the expectations people around us have projected upon us, either verbally or inadvertently by their attitudes towards us or others. Then we can have perceived ideas of expectations that we feel we must live up to based on how the media portrays to us an unrealistic lifestyle of wealth and good times. Finally, we have to sort out our own expectations we have of ourselves; while filtering the importance of them through whether we want to be liked, if it is a source of pride, or if it is a lie propagated upon us by the media.
*Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
1 John 2:16
**For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
What can we do? How do we swing the pendulum back to center and re-engage with life? What are some ways you balance your life? Do you feel overwhelmed? I. do. a. lot. This post is the first of my series on digging myself out of the clutter of stuff and life owning me into an existence that is filled with me owning my life and my stuff being tools and not taskmasters. Do you have any tips for me? Or are you in the same boat as I am? Join me in this journey so we can discover the joys of simplicity together.