About a dozen women ranging in age from late 20s to early 80s showed up at a Bible study I’m co-facilitating. The study is about simplifying your life and learning to declutter your world. When I chose the terrific book (Becoming a Woman of Simplicity by Cynthia Heald) I was kinda thinking we’d focus on trying to recover from clutter and purging some of the excess in our closets.
But when everyone got a chance to spit out their own special reasons for being there, it came down to being too busy and overwhelmed. Their junk drawers and messy closets were hardly mentioned.
So, if the opposite of simplicity is complicated, I’d say that most of us live complicated lives. Life is simply complicated.
I looked up both words and found the following:
Simple: plain, unsophisticated, clear, basic, accessible, straightforward, comprehensible.
Complicated: complex, involved, intricate, tricky, confusing, perplexing.
If you could just smack a button and choose one set of descriptors or the other, which would you opt for? Ha! I’m pretty sure I actually heard a loud sigh as 99% of you voted for simple.
You say you want a simple life, but I’m not buying it. If you cross-your-heart truly wanted life to be less chaotically complex you’d make it happen. Look at those people who move to the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, three hundred miles from a road. Their lives are simple, and they meant it when they said that’s what they wanted.
Simplicity of life sounds dreamy in a bumper-sticker-sort-of way. Ah, small town, country livin’… wouldn’t it be grand? If so, we’d all live in Addyston, Ohio with 934 other residents.
But the honest-to-goodness truth is that we like our complicated lives… or at least we think we do, because most of us have never known anything else. We’d feel like dreadful parents if we denied our kids soccer, basketball, dance, piano and gymnastics lessons. So those things can’t be dumped.
We’d hate to miss the opportunity to serve and be involved in the kids’ school (and other parents would certainly take notice), small groups at church and book club or bunko once in a while. Those are staying on the list.
I’d say most of us would merrily relinquish laundry, dishes and toilet scrubbing, but the outcome would be fairly disgusting and there’s not someone standing in line to take over. Grocery shopping and meal prep are also necessary if the people you love are going to thrive. Can’t give this batch of tasks up either.
I think maybe the issue isn’t whether we can (or should) simplify our lives, but more about how we can let our crazy, complicated lives impact us less stressfully. Here are a few ideas:
- Prioritize what’s necessary, and only devote energy/time to the “fluff” when you’ve got reserves.
- Slow down to a slightly less frantic pace.
- Give your best effort to keep commitments, but don’t overcommit.
- Blow stuff off once in a while and let the wind blow through your hair.
- Don’t try to shoulder everyone’s load, that’s God’s job (and your family might need to pick up a little slack).
Get a grip on the fact that (unless you’re a surgeon, a firefighter or a police officer) no one will die if you don’t get all your work done today. If you don’t have peace, joy and contentment, the people you care about won’t see your love and they probably won’t see Christ in you through all your busy, hard work. Stressed out, exhausted people don’t smile much. They look frustrated, tired and miserable.
Life is simply complicated. Learn to relax and move with the rushing current or get dragged down by the blitzing tide, because for most of us, simplifying is not going to happen any time soon.
Authored By Diane Markins