It’s August 17 and I’m putting a stake in the ground. I resolve to live a simple life. I’m tired of bearing the scars of this frenetic pace of life—the dull eyes, the lethargic shuffle, the nervous twitch whenever someone causally concedes, “I know you’re busy but would you...?” I never intended to become this person. Somewhere in the pursuit of learning to love God more deeply and my neighbor as myself I became a people-pleaser obsessed with excellence and terrified of using the word “No.”
But what does a simplified life look like and how does one go about practicing it? Is the “simple life” characterized by serenity and peace? Do I spend my days on the sun-dappled porch enjoying a good read or lying by the pool and letting my thoughts drift with the breeze?
While a more restful pace of life certainly needs to include such treasured periods of relaxation and pleasure, I truly believe that the simple life is an all-encompassing way of life that shapes your thoughts and actions. As opposed to living a crazy-busy life and merely scheduling brief moments for my soul to breathe, a simplified life involves me looking at my day, week, and year and evaluating my priorities in light of a desire to live a less cluttered, God-centered, more purposeful existence.
For example, instead of trying to do everything well, I decide to do the few things that God has uniquely called me to do with conviction and passion. Instead of striving to be all things to all people and accomplishing tasks in my own strength, I practice abiding in Christ and allowing him to work through me. Instead of thumbing through my planner and asking God to bless my litany of self-imposed activities, I ask God to grant me ears to hear his voice and go where he is already moving and working.
It’s a fundamental shift from the over-scheduled, urge-to-produce and need-to-achieve lifestyle praised in today’s mega-caffeinated society to a life guided by a clear vision of who God is, who I am in relation to him, and what he is calling me to do in response to my understanding of him. Such clarity brings peace, direction, and yes, the coveted simplicity of knowing that I am exactly where God would have me to be doing the things that he has called me to do.
And so today I choose to walk another path and live a better story—a story characterized by the soul-renewing pace of life that comes from intentionally abiding in the Father. I’m going to appreciate the simple things that give beauty and meaning to life and give myself permission to rest. And if you hear peculiar sounds echoing in the hallway of my apartment building, please don’t worry. I’m just training my tongue to generate a new sound—“Noooo.” I’m learning to live the simple life.