I want to start by saying that I do not consider myself anything near an expert on these topics that I am writing about. I am simply following a series of writing prompts, using the letters of my name and the first word that came to mind for each letter. I’m trying to write as often as I can, without a whole lot of overthinking and worrying about what I say.
Simplicity is something that I have longed for. I finally got a good dose of it in 2020, and I like it. I do worry a little about becoming like Timone and Pumba, so happy with their hakuna matata lifestyle that they almost kept a king from doing his duty. So let me start by saying that I don’t think simplicity is hakuna matata. I don’t have a problem free philosophy, and while I do my best to cast my cares and worries on the Lord, they do exist. Simplicity is not being selfish and centering your life around yourself. It is freeing yourself from excess so that you can love others better.
Simplicity is not laziness. It’s not doing something sloppily or halfway. It’s also not thoughtless or apathetic. Rather, simplicity is choosing what you will pour your effort into. My natural tendency seems to be going overboard. In the past, I have bought too much, decorated too much, and spent too much time on certain things, while neglecting other things. Simplicity is avoiding going overboard.
I don’t think that there is a formula for simplicity. Your simplistic lifestyle is going to look different than mine, and that’s okay. Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I spent too many years of my life comparing myself to others. I never felt like I measured up and, as a result, I was always striving, always exhausted and never at peace with who I was. I believe that a major component of simplicity is giving up who you think you are supposed to be, and figuring out who you actually are. Embrace who God created you to be and where He has placed you. Don’t let comparison to others hold you back or lead you you down paths that aren’t yours to follow. It’s okay to say no to things. Simplicity is being yourself.
A big thing for me has been learning how to say no, and not feel guilty about it. We have to understand that there are seasons in life. There are some seasons where we are able to give ourselves more to different things, and there are seasons when we have to hunker down and pour ourselves out for our family or a particular situation. Sometimes you just have to say, “Sorry, I can’t do that right now.” That doesn’t make you a selfish person. That makes you a focused person. Simplicity is knowing where you are needed most, and giving yourself there.
Sometimes we have to say no to ourselves as well. Consumerism robs us of simplicity. Being overly sentimental weighs us down. In both situations we end up with too much stuff. A year and a half ago my family went on a trip to Germany and Austria. Up until that point, I was a notoriously heavy packer. But we were taking 5 kids with us and renting a minivan when we got there. Also, we were staying in Airbnb’s, which meant that taking elevators was not on the agenda. I watched a lot of videos on how to pack light and everybody got to bring one backpack with everything that they needed for two weeks. What I learned from that experience is that we don’t actually need that much stuff. We don’t need drawers and a closet overflowing with clothes. That trip inspired me to come home and purge my wardrobe. Maybe someday I’ll get really radical and whittle it down to a capsule wardrobe.
Also, on that trip we had to limit what we could bring back with us. I am a sentimental person and I like keepsakes, but I am learning to say no to myself. We bought some Christmas ornaments while we were there. We like to purchase ornaments from the different places that we visit, so that every year when we decorate our tree, we can remember those places. I like that tradition. I also bought a shirt in Vienna that I loved and wore a lot. It is pretty thin now and has a little hole in it. Writing this post has reminded me that it’s time to go ahead and let it go. I made a photo book of our trip and looking through it is my favorite way to remember our trip. The cowbell that I bought in Salzburg sits on my piano and collects dust. Thats a purchase that I could have done without. Simplicity is learning what you need and letting go of the stuff that you don’t.
What is simplicity? It is freeing yourself from excess so that you can love others better. Simplicity is avoiding going overboard. Simplicity is knowing who God created you to be, and not trying to someone that you aren’t. It is knowing where you are needed most, and giving yourself there. And, simplicity is learning what you need and letting go of the stuff that you don’t. Simplicity is freeing and life giving, both to the one who embraces it and the people that they love and serve. I want to embrace it more and more!