Webster’s dictionary tells me something considered to be simple is not hard to understand or do, not fancy, not special or unusual.
The reality, though, is simple has gotten hard to understand, almost impossible to do, and most definitely unusual. The world we live in is no longer simple and sometimes it seems like the very idea of simplicity frightens us, as if we’ve become convinced that if something is simple it isn’t good enough. To accept something that is simple is to settle for less than we deserve.
The opposite of simple is difficult, hard, demanding, complicated, complex, fancy, or elaborate. Which one of those words appeals to you most? Which one of those sounds compatible with a life filled with joy and happiness? All I hear in that list of words is stress, exhaustion, failure, and depression.
When did being simple become a crime? Simple is not the same as lazy or complacent. It is not even a sign of a lack of ambition. I believe it is a sign of refusing to be sucked under by the popular opinion that more is still never enough.
“The Lord preserves the simple…” (Psalm 116:6 NKJV).
This use of the word simple refers to those who are innocent, clean, untarnished. Untarnished? In this world? Is that even possible? It’s a challenge at best, an impossibility if we don’t fight for it.
And that is where simplicity comes in.
Simple doesn’t start with our calendar, agenda, smart phone, or even our mind. It starts with our heart. Knowing what truly brings us joy, what our hearts were really created to love, each one as unique as our individual finger prints. Our hearts are created to love and worship God through the unique passions and gifting He has given each of us.
When I think of simple, I’m reminded of an experience my husband had on an old pipe rail in front of the local post office. It was the middle of a Texas summer day—hot. Coming out of the building in the middle of his work day, he met an old friend he hadn’t seen in a while—a retired gentleman who didn’t get out as often as he used to.
No benches around, so they sat on the low pipe rail fence in front of the building and talked. It was a simple visit, and yet the conversation was far more important than they realized. In their simple moment, they were unaware they were being watched.
An older woman came out of the post office, and with tears in her eyes, told them how much it touched her to witness their visit. It took her back to the days as a child when people did such things.
Such things? Such things as knowing their schedules weren’t too full to simply stop right where they were to sit and talk about whatever it is men talk about sitting on the pipe rail in front of the post office as the world speeds by.
It didn’t require a smart phone or an app or need to be scheduled. Just a simple pipe rail in front of a building and two hearts who understood the gift of the moment.
Simple. Sacred. Satisfying.
I’ve had a heart check lately contemplating how much of what I do is because, well…that’s the way it’s done. Everyone else is doing it. It’s expected.
But do I truly care if my house looks like Chip and Joanna decorated it? Do I really want to spend hours in the kitchen preparing an Instagram worthy gourmet meal when something less complicated could be just as satisfying? And the biggest, and maybe hardest question, do I really need to feel I live an inadequate life if my schedule isn’t jam packed and color coded down to the minute?
What if I could regain my ability to live with simplicity? Would I be happier? Would I appreciate my life more if I filled it with less? Would I enjoy the people in my life more? Would I walk in step with the Holy Spirit better?
A simple life is born in the heart when we understand what gives us joy, fills us with peace, and brings us into the presence of the Lord. You know what these things are for you. They may have been buried under the color-coded calendar and mountains of to-do lists, but somewhere in your heart you remember.
Simple. Sacred. Satisfying.