Simplicity for Families
Simplicity for families comes down to teaching ourselves and our children how to be the people that God put us here to be, not the people the world calls us to be. Who does God want us to be? God wants us to be people who love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; people who love our neighbors as ourselves; and people who care for the natural world. So simplicity is simple, but far from easy.
What does living lives of simplicity mean in 21st century Montgomery County? How we achieve simplicity is going to mean something different for each one of us and for our different families, because we all have different backgrounds and things that motivate us. But whatever it is, however you plan to simplify your life and the life of your family, you will know you are on the right track when you have more time to spend with God, more time with your kids and they with you, more time with your partner, when you have more time to spend talking with your friends and neighbors, when you have time to spend outside appreciating the world God made for us. You will know you are on the right track when you spend your time on things that directly or indirectly build people up in both your professional and your personal life. You will know you are on the right track when the money you spend is directly or indirectly going to things that build people up.
Simplicity for Parents
Simplicity, the word strikes terror into many of our hearts.
“I should simplify my life.” What does that even mean? Does it mean I have to move to Nebraska and be a farmer? Do I have to pare my house down so that if a magazine is out of place the whole feng shui is thrown off? Do I have to swear off video games?
None of the above. Simplicity is as different as we are. Simplicity means sorting through the junk in your life and doing your best to get rid of the stuff that makes you crazy so that you have more time to focus on God. It also means prioritizing things from the non-negotiable through the it’d-be-nice-but-oh-well-stuff. It could mean releasing yourself from the idea that you have to make a meal worthy of Jose Andres every night, or from whatever your equivalent is of making partner by 30. It could mean loving the you who is you, the you God made, rather than trying to be the you the world has told you you should be. Simplicity opens time and space in your life to let God in.
“ ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we’ve found ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight
‘Till by turning, turning we come ‘round right.’”
Simplicity for Kids
One of the things we’ve been talking about this Lent, is how the way we think about stuff, how our perspective, really changes things. The spiritual discipline of simplicity is another thing that sounds hard or unpleasant, but isn’t either one of those things – simplicity just makes your life easier, simpler. It helps you think about those things that are really important and helps you let go of things that aren’t.
Have you ever been to one of those ice cream places where you start with a flavor of ice cream and then add stuff to it to get exactly what you want? I thought they were a great idea – wow, I get to make my very own personal Carolyn flavor of ice cream, how perfect. So we went. I started with chocolate and added cookie chunks, and coconut and nut bits and chocolate chips and brownie bits and toffee bits and I just kept adding and adding…I was so excited, it was going to be epic. It was awful. There was so much extra stuff everything just tasted yucky. I was terrifically disappointed. What I really wanted was just chocolate ice cream.
Simplicity is like that. Knowing what is really important and not worrying about the rest. That let’s us have time for and with God that used to be filled with less important things.
Simplicity is also like fasting – you let something unimportant go, so you can do something very important instead. The Sunday School lesson included these simple ideas:
- Seek God – where can you and God be together, a “happy place,” for real or in your imagination?
- Give thanks – what are you grateful for today?
- Simplify – don’t make things more complicated than they need to be
- Give thanks again! – and again, and again
- Let go – what things in your life can you say, “It’s ok if I don’t have…” or “It’s ok if I don’t do…”