The answer I came to was no. In fact, the life they chose to embrace seemed anything but simple to me. Sure, the distractions of modern technology are removed, but relegating yourself to an agrarian lifestyle actually seems like more work to me than living in the suburbs, driving to the city to work, and coming home at the end of the day. Farming can’t be easy work. Heck, growing a vegetable garden in our back yard was such a challenge that I quit with that years ago. You’d have to completely re-educate yourself about seasons, growing crops, animal care, and how to eat, heat and cool your home, and get around. Plus, everything would take longer to do and be more work without cooking and cleaning appliances. Despite its seeming charm, I don’t believe our ancestors had an easier life that we have. In fact, I think they’re looking down on us with envy over cars, washers and dryers, and central heating and air conditioning.
Still, modern life is stressful in its own ways. Being able to do things faster means we’re expected to do more, and the pressure keeps building as the pace of life gets faster and faster. So what does having a simple life mean? I think it boils down to three things:
Be true to yourself. Different people have different callings, and if you’re living a life true to your talents and abilities, then you should be happy. Not all of us are called to be the boss, and yet society puts pressure on us to keep moving onward and upward. I’ve been asked many times why I don’t pursue a supervisory role after 17 years on my job, and I stick to my guns: I’m happy where I’m at, and moving up wouldn’t make me happy. Plus, my job has been reorganized three times since I started, so it isn’t like I’m withering on the vine here – I’m still challenged and growing, and I’m happy with that. There’s more to life than money and titles, and my goal is and always has been to live a full, balanced life. The job I have allows that, and until or unless that changes, then there’s no point on “moving on up” unless I feel a Spiritual prompt to do so. Be obedient to your calling, and it won’t break you because you’ll be blessed and favored in handling it.
Use self discipline. Too many people take on more than they can handle because they want to “have it all.” I’ll tell you a secret: you can have it all, but you can’t have it all at one time. Life has many seasons, and each season will be blessed with the abundance of that time. You have to know yourself well enough to keep a balanced life, and to know what you can handle. Simply put, you can’t have a full time job, a family, go back to school for an advanced degree, run three volunteer committees at the same time, and be part of five social groups. You can’t do it all at one time, so don’t try! I learned that I can’t write and do my crafting at the same time, so I save my crafting ideas for when I’m on a break from my writing. And when I’m knee deep in writing or promotion, the crafting bags and boxes go back in the closet until the next break. Yes, I’d love to have a life where I can enjoy both at the same time, but I’ve accepted that it won’t be possible until I retire, and this is how I handle it now. Take stock of your life, and focus on one or two things outside of your daily responsibilities. You might be amazed at how much more you accomplish when you give yourself time and space to truly enjoy what means the most to you.
Set boundaries. Simply put, mind your own business, and don’t let others further into your own than they belong. Sure, you should do what you can to help others, and you should accept help from others when you need it. No man is an island, but our spheres don’t completely merge with other people, and it’s critical to know where the overlap ends. I’ve found that the fewer opinions I have, the happier I am. You have to trust other people to do what’s right, and they need to respect that you have the same right. Does that mean you can always trust it to happen? Absolutely not, but we all own our decisions and the consequences of them – it’s how we learn, and we don’t need to interfere with what the Lord is trying to do with and in others. If you’re doing the best that you can and others still have a problem with it, they can shove off. Likewise, you don’t need to intrude in other peoples’ lives. Again, you have to have enough wisdom and discernment to know how much overlap is appropriate, and when it’s time to back off and let things go. Respect limits, and you may find that others respect yours more. You receive what you give, after all, so be mindful of what you’re putting out there.
A life of simplicity doesn’t mean removing yourself from the world at large. You can’t really do that anyway. You’re always going to have responsibilities, so a simple life really does come down to making decisions that create a right balance in your life for the season you’re in. If you remain aware and true to that in prayer, then I think you can have a life of simplicity, no matter where you’re at.
That’s all today. Have a Happy Friday and a wonderful weekend.