Here's the first: Selecting Simplicity
Simplicity is an often talked about virtue in our culture. That's probably because we live in anything but simple times. We long for schedules that are less hectic and homes that are warm and nurturing. We also see the needs in the world, and we realize that we need to find ways to live that don't involve over-consumption. To that end, many have undertaken a lifestyle of simplicity.
Here's the definition of the English word simplicity.
In the positive connotation: freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts: an organism of great simplicity. absence of pretentiousness, ornament, etc.; plainness: a life of simplicity.
freedom from deceit or guile; sincerity; artlessness; naturalness: a simplicity of manner, purity of motive
In the negative: a quality of being gullible, lacking mental acuity and sharpness, uneducated, unskilled, naive
Obviously, if we voluntarily pursue simplicity, we want to aim for the positive qualities associated with this word. Some have defined simplicity as living by all of the skills used in prior centuries. For example, a home keeper who is pursuing simplicity might garden, can, sew, compost, etc. Returning to these skills can be good for our families and can also be good for the environment. However, many people find that making or growing everything by hand makes life more complex, rather than promotes a simple life.
True simplicity is not found in returning to Little House on the Prairie, but is found in determining what your priorities are and sticking to them. The story of Mary and Martha demonstrates this principle. When Jesus came to visit, Martha bustled about doing good things. Though her motive was to serve, she became impatient and anxious. Mary, on the other hand, peacefully listened as Jesus taught. Mary's priorities were ordered around the Lord, and she recognized the importance of those precious moments with Jesus in a way that Martha did not.
We can relate to Martha's distraction. After all, she was serving the Lord, and that's a wonderful thing. However, instead of finding peace at Jesus' feet, she let herself become distracted by her service. Perhaps, she would have been better off in the moment if she had set out a simple meal that required little serving.
The trick is to define simplicity in terms of what best fits you and your family. So,as you go about your week, think about your priorities for your home. Where do you feel that things are working? Where are you becoming overwhelmed or frustrated? Are you anxious or are you at peace? Are you trying to do too many "good" things instead of what is "best"? What is your current stage of life? Are you attempting to do things that you might be able to do in another stage of life, but which might be too much right now? What do you think is the right balance in your life of spending time and money?
How is your clutter? (Why does clutter look so appealing in Pottery Barn catalogs and so junky in my house?:) ) Are you drowning under too much stuff? Do you really use the things in your home? Or, do you like the idea of using a particular thing, but honestly never get around to it? What can you let go?
How are you reaching out to others outside of your family sphere? Do you, like the worthy woman in Proverbs 31, reach out your hands to those in need? Do you have time for friends? Our homes are not meant to be just bastions from the world, but are to be opened in the service of the Lord -- as Lazarus, Mary, and Martha used theirs.
This week, let's take a step toward simplicity.