Recently, within a 1/2 hour, two different retail workers treated me quite disrespectfully. One was outright rude. Both, like I was insignificant.
Initially, I reacted. My flesh wanted to walk out and explain why I was doing so. But, fortunately, the Holy Spirit kept me from reacting, kept my emotions from taking control.
As I met with a friend – a blessing of accountability – I also observed the two individuals & talked about what happened to me and realized not just why they personally struggled but also why so many struggle with existing in out-of-control lives. This situation brought to light the following realizations:
- People often try to control others when their lives feel out of control.
- Overwhelming busyness often causes us to take the easy way out, to react.
- Many people do not realize they are too busy and overwhelmed.
- Feeling trapped in a busy life is all too common.
- When people are habitually rude or impersonal, the root cause is usually being overwhelmed.
What does this all have to do with Alaska?
When many people become overwhelmed with life, they say something like, “Maybe I should move to Alaska.” Interpretation: “I want a simpler life.” People recognize their lives are too busy, and they desire permanent escape. This desire to escape teaches us several valuable lessons:
- We desire a clean slate. We want out from under overwhelmed and busy lives.
- We recognize lack of balance. We know simplicity helps bring balance.
- We want simpler lives. A simpler life is a less chaotic life.
On a more personal level, and this is where the experience gets really painful, I realized that as much as I have grown from treating others the way I was treated and from reacting when being treated this way, I also see the habit still in me. For example, when I am stressed and overwhelmed, I try to control my life by controlling my kids. And controlling 12-year-old and a 14-year-old boys is, well, impossible, resulting in more frustration and a ride none of us enjoy.
When the rubber meets the road to Alaska, I must admit that these situations brought out a part of me I thought dead. They brought out feelings and emotions I thought no longer controlled me. They made me realize that I too let busyness and stress control me. I too choose the broad path of either letting emotions rule and reign or fantasizing escape, wiping the slate clean rather than choosing the narrow path of a simpler life (Matthew 7:13-14).
When I allow my life to get complicated, even just slightly, my choices begin to reflect finding an easy way. How can I check tasks off my list in the quickest, easiest fashion? When my life stays simple, when I walk in the agenda God created for me (Ephesians 2:10), my choices reflect His will and my life becomes fulfilled through simple depth of tremendous purpose.
When I’m overwhelmed and live a too-busy life, I treat others based on feelings. I react to their emotions colliding with mine. When complications increase, I treat others based on my own definition of right and wrong, based on reactions to the emotions of life. But when my life is simple, I treat others based on The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40), based on showing love regardless of feelings and emotions.
Acting on God’s greatest commands happens more easily the simpler my life. Simpler means choosing the narrow way, choosing to prefer and love others because God wants me to. Letting busyness overrun my life means going through the wide gate, making easy choices, choices that go with the flow of culture.
DISCUSSION: Do you act or react when you are overwhelmed or stressed? When do you hear the call for simplicity most in your life? What do you do when you hear it?