I was in Seattle. I had found myself haphazardly sitting in a Mediterranean restaurant drinking mango lemonade. Reading Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. It was the chapter titled, Simplicity. Life was not chaotic at the time, but it was regimented and oriented in a way that made me relentlessly busy. I felt the Lord breathe this phrase into my soul, “Live simply, love extravagantly”. It has stayed with me ever since.
I don’t think, I have pursued simplicity this past year as much as I have just decided it. Rather than fixing a car, that wanted to be broken, I took the bus. Rather than stay in one church, I left. Rather than maintain an active social life, I chose moments of solitude. I don’t regret these decisions. Simplicity is not easy, though it can be eased into. I have learned that when one peels away the busyness and superfluousness of life, there is a foundational depth desiring exploration.
There is something more wonderous being known by a handful of people than networking with hundred. There is something rich about waking up at 5am, just to embrace the last moments of the world being silent, before it pummels back into its chaos. There is something about lowered expectations for entertainment and leisure that makes a simple drive adventurous. Simplicity is grand. I don’t make these statement to condemn the networker or the late riser or the thrill seeker. I am just kind of blithering about.
There is another side to simplicity though. It can become isolating. Thematically, I have always struggled with loneliness. I remember prepubescent evenings in my basement room, bawling because I just didn’t feel like I could attach to people. I realize that in hindsight. This is exacerbated by the fact that, I would rather be alone than with people. But in this simplicity, I am left to contemplate my sorrow. I know, I am not fully alone, but there are desires for companionship that go unmet.
In the past Harvey season, I am continuing to live a simple life. I have relocated to a place where I don’t have my full wardrobe at my disposal. I have probably worn the same 25 articles of clothing repeatedly. I don’t need as much clothing as I think. I have no access to a kitchen on a daily basis, but there are simple meals, that don’t require stove tops or ovens. At the end of the night, the bed is not always the most comfortable, but somehow I find rest. Perhaps, God was preparing me a year ago.
Simplicity does make way for immense gratitude. Right now, I am in College Station. I cooked in a kitchen for the first time in about two months. I slept in a cushioned bed for the first time in 62 days. I soaked in a tub for the first time in 3 years. My room was completely dark bringing no light in. I was alone in all the best ways. In ways that were refreshing and healing.
I know I cannot stay here. I also don’t want to stay here. Simplicity is grounded in acceptance of reality. I will return to the bed that is uncomfy, kitchenless meals, standing showers, and limited clothing, but I will return with gratitude. Knowing this, God finds ways to provide simple things for me.