Simplicity. It’s the antonym of the American Dream. It’s in direct opposition to busyness, consumerism, and excess. It’s counterintuitive in this culture of consumption. But, let’s stop for a moment and ask ourselves…where has the American Dream gotten us? The struggle of debt, “keeping up with the Joneses”, burnout and discontentment? Who wants more of that?
At the risk of ruffling feathers, hear me out. I’m not about to go on some über minimalistic rant and make you feel guilty for owning things or being involved in things. Nope, nope, nope! That’s not my heart behind simplicity. My heart is this, friends: when we eliminate the excess, we can focus on the essential.
I deeply want you to know the joy of a simple, intentional, meaningfully beautiful life. Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and then everything else will be added to us (Matthew 6:33). When we’re seeking God first, inevitably we will have to let go of things. Sin, baggage, selfishness, possessions, stress and busyness. But, God’s word promises that the best things will be added to us. Peace, freedom, righteousness, love and grace. In short, we will become closer to Jesus when we’re seeking God first. Now, who wants more of THAT?!
So, how do you get there?
1. First things first. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. It’s amazing how the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace! Be consumed with Him, and the world will not be able to consume you. Make your relationship with Him a priority…spending time in the Word and in prayer, seeking His face as you move throughout your day, and aligning yourself with His will.
2. What has God called you to? Focus on those things. God tells us that His burden is easy and His yoke is light, so this list is going to be a short one! What has God specifically placed on your heart and in your life? Your marriage and family? A specific ministry? Your job? Writing? Building? Creating? Leading or serving in a specific capacity? Whatever those things are, focus on them!
3. Say “no” to everything else. Seriously, you can do this! It is possible to have healthy boundaries and maintain a simple life, but that only happens when you refuse to get involved with everything and everyone who wants your time and attention. I believe that stress and fear are huge enemies of simplicity, and most of the chaos in our lives comes from taking on more than God has asked us to take on.
4. Take care of yourself. I know. It sounds so wretchedly selfish to take care of yourself! Aren’t we supposed to be poured out for others? Yes, but you’re not going to have anything to give to others unless you’re pouring into yourself. I encourage you to take time for self care…and get rid of the idea that it’s selfish. You have to take care of yourself (spiritually, emotionally, physically) in order to effectively do the things that God has called you to.
5. Stuff? You don’t need as much as you think. The basic idea is this: your home is for you, not your stuff. Every possession you own is another thing you have to clean, look after, and store. Plus, so many people in the world are fine with just a fraction of what we in America own.
A simple life is following what God has specifically called you to. A simple life is eliminating the excess in order to focus on the essential. A simple life leads to freedom, joy, and more time/energy/money to focus on what matters most. A simple life is full of things that add value, instead of things that burn you out. A simple life is intentional, because you are deciding what is most important and making room to pursue those things.
This post originally appeared on my friend Amy's blog in May of 2014.
How do YOU think simplicity can bring joy to your life?
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You can read all posts for the 31 Days series here.