“We simplify, not just to be less busy, even though we may be right to pursue that. Rather, we simplify to remove distractions from our pursuit of Christ.
We prune activities from our lives, not only to get organized, but also that our devotion to Christ and service from His kingdom will be more fruitful.
We simplify, not merely to save time, but to eliminate hindrances to the time we devote to knowing Christ. All the reasons we simplify should eventually lead us to Jesus Christ.”
Donald S. Whitney
I have had so many thoughts going through my mind over the last few days, and I am going to attempt to process some of them on this blog. I am certain many of the questions I have do not have clear answers and that the answers that come will be very personal, catered to our family.
Most of the thoughts are around the high-pace, over-booked calendar culture in which we live. I’ve heard from quite a few folks lately how they aren’t sure when life will slow down or how they are trying to figure out what to say “no” to and what to keep doing. I hear fellow parents complain about sports schedules and games scheduled on Sunday. I watch my own calendar fill up with church events, committee meetings, traveling weekends, weeknight outreach events, mission projects, and more.
And then there is just the LIFE stuff–cooking, laundry, homeschooling, yard work, grocery shopping, hair appointments, doctor check-ups, family time, and more.
I am trying to evaluate my calendar/life and make sure I am not doing anything just because “this is what we’re supposed to be doing” or “because so-and-so is expecting me to” or “I’ll feel horrible if I don’t help with that event” or even because I haven’t given much thought to what God prioritizes. I can easily find myself in survival mode, just doing whatever comes next with nothing I touch being done well or with any kind of effect.
Please tell me you know what I mean.
And I also think about how our personalities play so very much into our schedules. Some people are just GO people and function best with several things going on at once and with full weeks. I happen to NOT be that kind of person. I value silence. I treasure quality, uninterrupted time with my family. I don’t get stir-crazy very quickly. If I have something to do more than one night during the weekdays, then I feel a bit “pulled.” If our family doesn’t eat together at the table almost every night, then I feel disconnected….even though I do homeschool and have all the kids under one roof 90% of the time, having Josh here with us all together is different. I treasure that time.
I feel pressure to have the kids in a sport. I feel like they will be behind if we wait much longer to get them signed up for piano lessons. I feel like I rush the kids and fuss at the kids more than I should. I feel pressure to have the house pretty clean, to be “on top of” the laundry (and I don’t mean my body on top of the laundry, crying about how I can’t seem to get anything done), to have a healthy, delicious meal for my family for dinner each evening, to stay on schedule with our homeschooling material, and on and on I could go.
Now let me just be clear. My sweet husband does NOT put one ounce of pressure on me in any of these areas. I seriously doubt if he would notice if I never cleaned the shower again, and he surely doesn’t care if I make the bed. He’d notice if I didn’t cook, but even then he may just see it as an opportunity to go out and get something that he’d really like to eat!
So, with all of that mumbled mess just shared, I just wonder what the Lord is wanting to teach me. What do I do with those guilt feelings? How can I make the best decisions for my family and for my kids? How much do I do out of peer pressure or just out the fact that most people around us are doing it? How would my calendar look different if I ask God to truly re-establish HIS priorities into my life? How many meetings and committees are a part of my life that I need to just cut out completely? Should a house wife be able to stay on top of things around the house? And if she can’t, is it a warning sign that maybe too many other outside activities are going on? If I can’t train my kids to make their beds, brush their teeth and their hair and get dressed for the day (putting pjs away included!), should I even let them be trained in an instrument? I mean, seriously, if they can’t get some basic steps of obedience down right here at home, why would I/should I expect that they will be able to obey and learn an instrument or have good discipline in a sport when some basic disciplines around the house are not being followed? Am I just being unrealistic in my standards?
Am I just plain crazy?
‘Cuz sometimes I feel just that. Crazy.
So over the next while…who knows how long…and right here upon Thanksgiving and Christmas….I hope to answer some of these questions. I hope to embrace a more simple, more effective pace of life with my priorities reflecting God’s best for me. He has already brought me so far in some of these areas, but I feel certain there is much more to learn.
I think this quote from Cynthia Heald says it best:
“My concern is that we live in a world where doing, communicating, and possessing so rule our lives that we have allowed even good things to overtake our time and distract from the best. The purpose…is not show you how to downsize, declutter, or say no to everything. The purpose is to encourage you to live life the way God has planned for you. I think His way is one of inner peace and rest in the midst of a complex and busy world. My definitions of a woman of simplicity is one who lives a God-paced life. She waits for God’s leading, and she has time to be still and know her Lord. She has a deep abiding rest in her spirit. She is a woman of profound simplicity because she has only one focus: being simply and purely devoted to Christ.”