I woke up one morning last week in a panic.
There was something I hadn’t finished. I couldn’t remember what it was– perhaps it was a work responsibility, or a blog responsibility, or a familial responsibility, or a relational responsibility. Or perhaps I had forgotten to plan lunch and dinner for that day, and all we had in the refrigerator were radishes.
Whatever it was, it raced to the forefront of my mind. I started my day feeling behind, afraid, and anxious.
The thought that followed the mental train wreck? If I only took my own advice, I wouldn’t be in this predicament.
You may be noticing at this point that this is not a typical blog post from me. And if you’ve been around SR for a while, you’ve come to expect a few insights and action steps in each blog post, all pointing toward a life of simplicity that leads to adventures worth chasing.
I still believe in that life. I still believe in blogging that way. It’s just that I am beginning to realize this: it’s all too easy to settle for a false sense of simplicity– one where the outward behavior points beguilingly toward an internal reality that does not exist.
In other words, we can live lives that look simple, only to mask deep internal chaos that can only be sorted out by divine intervention.
You see, I’ve done the capsule wardrobe thing. I’ve connected minimalism to a reshaping of my perspective in so many ways. I’ve written about stress, rest, rhythms, and slow living, each with a few executable actions to boot.
What I haven’t done is be honest. What I haven’t done is to get off a hustle bus driven by a strange phenomenon once dubbed the “eternal inner murmur of self reproach” (source). This is that inner voice telling us that we just have to get to the next thing, or else.
It says if we don’t hustle, then we don’t matter.
It says it is always better to work, and to win, than to rest.
Endless check lists. Endless emails. Endless hurdles on a sprint that has passed its time limit.
I confess that I come to this blog tired on Sunday evenings, attempting to eke out a piece of writing that will pass the standards of non-existent judges. I haven’t been writing about my heart. I have been writing to write about what I always write about.
So here’s what I am saying.
Don’t believe that simplicity is found in throwing stuff away.
It’s just the beginning. The rushing around is what actually makes life feel complicated, overwhelming, and constantly stressful. Having fewer items will clear that calendar– slightly. But so much more needs to happen too.
Don’t make simplifying your life– from your possessions to the desires of your heart– yet another thing to achieve.
This is different. This is about revival. This is about living in the overflow of what you receive. This is about discovering the true meaning of “enough,” which, when fully understood, is abundance.
Don’t expect empty words and a new aesthetic sensibility to change your life.
We recently witnessed an outdoor yoga class where the teacher, over a loud microphone, spoke in a breathy voice: “Now re-center on your soul and move back through the wind of your heartspace.” That means nothing. Similarly, you might find the minimalist design aesthetic to be beautiful, or the worst in the world. It doesn’t matter. These things change moods, not lives.
Don’t mistake simplicity for true sabbath rest.
I have said over and over again on this blog that simple living is not the final destination. Rather, it is one of many vehicles that can take us toward our God-given place, where we walk humbly in our calling until the very end. It is so easy for us in this movement to expect that once we finally finish simplifying, once we finally achieve balance, once we finally get our routine together, then we will have arrived. We will not have arrived. Not by this alone, anyway.
You see, friend, I’m not interested in becoming better at simplicity, and neither should you be. I’m far more interested in spending my time, energy, and resources on the things I’ve been placed here to do.
And with each courageous yes or no, we will get there.