Friday, March 28, 2008

Why Simple?

Eric and I have been purposing for years to simplify our lives and just live a simple life. But what exactly does that mean? There are many books, blogs, magazines, and websites devoted to this topic. (I'll provide links to some of my favorites at the end of this post.) So let's start with an overview of how we view simplicity, and then why we choose it.

Back in 2005, Rick Saenz over at Dry Creek Chronicles wrote a wonderful series on Simple Living. I printed out the article and have kept it in my Home Management Binder all this time. It is underlined, highlighted, dog-eared, and well-read. (It begins here. I highly recommend reading it as it is both highly encouraging and convicting.) Here is a quote from the first post of the series that lines up perfectly with our views on simple living: "My concept of the good life is simple. It is a life devoted to raising our families, living in community, and worshipping God. An activity that contributes to those three things is to be welcomed; an activity that detracts from those three things is to be questioned. As we declutter our lives by eliminating questionable activities, they will become both simpler and better." Yep, that's about it in a nutshell. We choose to stay home when possible. We choose to limit our obligations that don't put our family in a place of priority. We choose the simple way every time. We avoid distraction, clutter (physical, mental and spiritual), and busyness whenever possible.

For us, a simple life means we find pleasure in little things, and we instill this in our children. We spend a large portion of our time at home and we are very content in doing so. We do not feel the need to be busy all the time. Busyness just for the sake of being busy is discouraged at every turn. We do not equate busyness with productiveness or importance. We see our home as the center of our productivity. There is so much we can be doing at home why would we add clutter to that by constantly having to be out doing something?

Now don't get me wrong, we do go out and we do expose the children to lots of opportunities to interact and be a part of the world. They enjoy seeing new things and people, just as we enjoy watching their reactions to these things. I believe the difference for us is that we never make those things a "Must-Do." As a result, we are able to find enjoyment without stressing ourselves out. Stress and simplicity just do not seem to go hand-in-hand. As an example, we can relax on a Saturday morning without feeling like we must be out and about as early as possible. With very few exceptions, anything that can't wait for us to enjoy a leisurely morning together is just not worth it. Then we can choose to spend a few hours walking around the stores of the quaint downtown area that is one town over from us. Then maybe we'll stop at the grocery store if we need to. Or maybe we'll just go to the library for a while. These are important activities to our family, and we all get much enjoyment from them, but they are enjoyed on our time schedule.

Another very important facet of living the simple life in our home is that we try to not clutter our surroundings up with unessentials. Just like stress and simplicity, clutter and simplicity do not go hand-in-hand. We are constantly weeding out, sorting through, and getting rid of what we do not need. It is very important to us that our children are raised with as much appreciation for curling up on the couch with a great book as they are for expensive toys. So far, we have been successful in this area. They still have an innocent, pure appreciation for the little things in life. We hope they will never lose that!

So, why do we choose to live this way? It may not sound like much fun to some people. But it is to us, and that is a very strong reason why we do it. By stripping away clutter, distraction, and busyness, we have found fun, happiness, and contentment. We are always looking for ways we can scale back even more. Our desire to live our lives in a Christ-like, Biblical manner is the strongest driving force behind our simplicity. Jesus did not need stuff, He did not need constant activity, He saw the beauty in the little things and the "little people" that so many of us miss day in and day in because we are too busy. This is also the reason we know we will never get to where we want to be. We will always be coming up against things that we need to remove or ignore so that we can continue on our simple walk. Our simple walk is about following in the footsteps of Jesus. He laid the path and we choose to follow. But follow is all we will ever strive for. We are content to be Jesus-followers and we know perfection and full satisfaction are beyond our reach while we are still in our earthly bodies. That's no reason we can't practice though!

As promised, here are some links about this topic that we enjoy:

An list of books concerning Christian Simplicity.
Simple Living America
A listing of some blogs related to simple living
Irresistible Revolution and The Simple Way
All of the blogs and links in my list at left.
Back Home Magazine
The Holy Way: Practices for a simple Life Paula Huston
Freedom of Simplicity : Finding Harmony in a Complex World Foster, Richard J.
**There are just too many to name! The options are limitless. Just do a search at your library on Simple Living


A Grammatical Disclaimer

I freely admit to consistently using improper grammar in the following areas:
1. I like run-on sentences.
2. I have a tendency to end sentences with a pronoun. (I really do. I can't help it.)
3. I always seem to use passive voice in my sentences. (See?)

I've been trying to break this habit, unsuccessfully, for years, so now I just accept that as my writing style, and since I'm not writing for grades anymore, I embrace it. (Again, see?)

Hence, I invoke Blogger Artistic License for this blog!

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