Simplicity. Everyone wants to make their lives “simple”. Usually, they take this to mean that they are too busy and need to remove some items from their “todo” list. Simplicity in Spirituality could not be further apart. In fact, I could make the case that embracing simplicity will make your life very full. It is a fullness you wish you had always had. It is a fullness that will give you freedom.
Simplicity means embracing who you are and understanding Whose you are. We should probably take those in reverse order.
Remembering Whose you are: When we remember that we were created by God to be loved, it should cause some assumptions to creep into our lives. First, we should assume that there is a God and we are not Him. Second, we should assume that the reason why God created us is to be loved. Third, we should assume that God wants to be in relationship with us.
When we remember there is a God and we are not him, we know that not everything depends upon us. We know that it is OK to make mistakes. We know that there are things that are beyond our control. We know that the Universe is a gift given to us to enjoy (and to take care of). The stress should be just dripping off of us at the moment.
Knowing there is a God and we are part of the creation gives us perspective. We do not have to have the perfect life. This should make life much more simple. Our goals should be rearranged so that we no longer have to strive for things that the world suggests to us as being the route to happiness. Happiness is knowing our place in the Universe with God at the center.
Another part of this “remembering Whose we are” is the idea that we were created by God. It strikes me as just incredible that we would think that God would create something and hate it. I know a man who built model airplanes in his garage. He would never take those airplanes out and smash them on the ground. Instead, he has built one thing after another to fix them when they are broken, store them to protect them, and give them all that they need to function. Anecdotally, I have met more humans mad at God than I have known times when God is mad at humans.
Reframing our thinking to embrace the assumption that God loves us changes our view on everything, reduce our stress, and increase our hope for the future. This makes life simple. Embrace Whose you are.
Embracing who we are: God has given each one of us “charisms”. “Charis” (pronounced “Kar-is”) is the Greek word for “gift”. We are given “gifts” by the Holy Spirit. It can be as simple as “this is what I am good at”. Each of these gifts are given to us so that we can accomplish our vocation within the kingdom of God. Our vocation is the role that we are to play in life that fulfills us and fulfills what God needs for us to do to help others, the church, and the world.
When we embrace our vocation, understanding that we are not able to do everything, we can begin to say “no” without any guilt whatsoever. One summer, when I was a Methodist pastor, the Church wanted me to run the Vacation Bible School. Knowing that I was a pastor and not a Vacation Bible
School Director, I said no. That summer we didn’t have a “VBS.” The next summer, a woman who felt called to be a Vacation Bible School Director, who had the skills to be a good one, volunteered and we had the best VBS ever.
Knowing who I am, that I am a minister of the Gospel, frees me from having to do other people’s jobs. I can say ‘no’ because it gives others a chance to fulfill their vocation. Additionally, fulfilling your vocation means you do what you are good at doing. When you turn your heart toward wanting to do what you are good at, money suddenly becomes a secondary desire. You are able to enjoy life without the need to take advantage of others, live to get to the next level all the time. Instead you are able to live what you love. There is freedom in that which I do not think I have to explain.
Simplicity: knowing who you are and whose you are. It is a spiritual discipline that, when we embrace it and live it, will make life so much less confusing and much more rich in ways we could have never expected.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian