Struggling for Simplicity

simplicityDo you long for simplicity? In the chaos and confusion of overwhelm and overload, do you instinctively know your life wasn’t meant to be this way?

Our bodies crave simplicity. They long for whole foods instead of processed filler. They want activity balanced with rest. When our muscles tense and stomachs ache, our bodies are telling us to satisfy the craving for simplicity.

Our minds seek simplicity too. When our thoughts whirl and our heads pound from decision overload, that’s our clue to slow down, to simplify. A clue most ignore.

Why do we ignore the signal’s our bodies and minds send us as they cry out for simplicity? Do we really believe there’s no way out, no other way to live?

Now consider the soul. As our lives burst with activity and commitment, somewhere deep inside — in the truest part of ourselves — we recognize the lack, the emptiness of it all. We realize that in the overwhelm of life, our souls are underwhelmed because we’ve neglected their care.

Pursuing Simplicity

While overwhelm and overload happen almost without effort, simplicity only comes through disciplined and deliberate choices. And, experience tells me, the motivation for making those choices only comes when my focus falls to my Creator, to His desire for my life. Nothing else works.

I’ve wavered between simplicity and overwhelm. I’ve wanted one but felt trapped in the other. Until my body and mind said, “No more,” and I finally heard my spirit’s “feed me” cry, I lived constantly worn out and depressed.

Then I pursued — and found — a simple life. You can too. How?

  1. Learn the value of small steps. Educate. Try. Assess. Educate more. Try again and again and again.
  2. Learn to rest. Develop an appreciation for quietness. Realize that life doesn’t need to constantly be filled with noise and activity.
  3. Learn to say “No.” A quality “yes” only comes by saying “no.” We just can’t do anything well without letting other things go. Lisa TerKeurst addresses this well in her book The Best Yes.
  4. Learn the value of reading. Scripture first & often. Then, lots of positive and uplifting books that feed and inspire you. Refuse to say, “I can’t.” It’s an excuse to avoid the hard work. Reading trains your mind to think like nothing else can.
  5. Learn to prioritize. Most decisions involve good, better or best, not good or bad. Find out what’s most important, and make it the most important.

The simple life still comes as a struggle for me, but I’ve tasted it enough to know not to let it go. I’m holding on the best I can, often returning to what brought me there.

Listen to the clues. Slow down. Pursue balance. Step out of the chaos. Feed your soul. Struggle for simplicity. It’s worth the effort.

DISCUSSION: How do you struggle for simplicity?

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13 Replies to “Struggling for Simplicity”

  1. So true Kari. The soul yearns for a simpler life with less to do's so to speak. I balance myself out like this for example. Yesterday was sunny and in the upper 60's. I spent about 6 hours working outside of my home, Cleaning the siding of the house with a scrub brush, cleaning the windows, and installing gutter guards on my rain gutters to keep the leaves out.

    Doing this now while I have the time will free me later for more rest and relaxation. Also today I will take it easy because of all the physical activity from yesterday.

    1. You hit on a key when you plan rest and relaxation after physically demanding work. People often just live day-to-day and forget the benefit of planning (at least a week ahead) when it comes to pursuing simplicity. Great example!

  2. I think this is an area that needs to be talked about. We let our lives get really crowded and busy. The problem I see is that people then pursue simplicity – but pursue it for the wrong reasons. It almost becomes another form of legalism. I think, like you've laid out here, that we really have to understand the philosophy behind what we do rather than just jumping to the simplifying part. This will be a pretty interesting series!

    1. You're right, people often pursue simplicity for the wrong reasons and really end up making life more complicated. Making excuses for why they can't simplify is also common. This is a very personal topic for me, and I am both excited and aprehensive with pursuing it. I think the aprehension has to do with the realization that complexity is pursuing us as much as simplicity, and I see that battle everywhere I look.

  3. Simplicity is the key word that I have been using in my house the past week. In a chaotic world, we DO have to be intentional and purposeful in finding simplicity within our own families. Without simplicity, chaos creeps in and therefore no peace. God is not a God of chaos, but a God of peace. Too much "stuff" crowds out that peace that God so desires within our hearts and minds. I have been praying that God would show my family what simplicity should look like for us. And yet…I just signed up my 2 boys to play T-ball at the same time that they will also be playing soccer. I do like that you said that each family's simplicity is unique. We'll see if this 2 sport thing in a season "works" for our family. 😉

    1. Part of building simplicity is deciding on focus too. For us, relationship is key. We build our lives around the relationships that are the most important to us. Nothing else will matter if relationships aren't strong. I plan to revisit this topic of simplicity as it is one that many people are expressing an interest in reading more about. About the two sports at once, we have made a decision to not do that. With two kids already each in a sport PLUS vision therapy for one and other school/church acitivities here and there, we just decided another commitment would be too much and decided against one for this spring. Plus, and this comes back to what I said in the beginning of this reply, our relationships would start to suffer if we added something else to our schedule. That is the approach we've chosen to follow.

  4. I have often said, "I am a simple man. I like simple things. Keep things simple and you got me." Complexity is dangerous to me. I think we have added way too many extras in our lives. Even though I don't like the last word the KISS does fit (Keep It Simple St***d).
    My recent post Restoration

    1. I agree, complexity is dangerous. I also agree that we add way too many extras in our lives. I've learned this all the hard way. I didn't use to be a simple person, and I have to fight the tendency at times too. How about KISS = Keep it Simple Silly?

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