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Living simply when you are a complex person

We may seek to do less but essentially if we live a life of simplicity we are thinking about our inner world.

Classic virtue

It is all very well simplicity being one of the classic virtues of the Christian life but many of us have complex lives. If you are married and have children there is going to be associated complexity. If you have a job then that takes up a certain amount of your time too. You have a church to go to. You may have parents who need you, at the very least they like to hear from you or even see you sometimes. We need time for friends. We need to eat, sleep relaxÖ and so the list goes on. We think of living simply as doing less, but many of us cannot do less, so how can we live simply?

Inner world

Yes, simplicity affects our outer life, we may seek to do less but essentially if we live a life of simplicity we are thinking about our inner world and this will affect all these busy things which need doing. In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster gives us three key inner attitudes which characterise the freedom which living a simple life brings.*

First, all that we have belongs to God. 

Second, all that we have is cared for by God.

Third, all that we have is freely available to others. 

These are what characterise a life of simplicity. They are the key to posses freedom from anxiety in all our busy affairs.

Letís explore these a little more in the context of the complexities with which I have opened this article.

 

 

 

 If we have sole responsibility and care for someone we will soon wither under the stress of that ownership. 

 

 

Marriage

How do these three inner attitudes affect our marriages and parenting? To live a life of simplicity by the definition of Richard Foster, in our marriage we need to recognise that we are not owners of our husbands, that God loves and cares for our husbands far more than we do and that we cannot have our husbands to ourselves (although we do have exclusivity is the marriage relationship). 

How does this bring simplicity to our lives? If we have sole responsibility and care for someone we will soon wither under the stress of that ownership. We were not designed to be responsible for our husbandís thoughts, feelings and doings. God has given him responsibility for himself to the same extent we are responsible for ourselves. We cannot posses and hold firmly to our husbands because we would stifle their humanity. God has given them gifts which are for the church, not just for us. Our husbands, though exclusively our husbands, must be allowed to benefit the world at large. 

What happens if we donít like something he does or wants us as a family to do? First we must be sure that the situation is just that we donít like it rather than it being wrong. Then we must communicate our thoughts lovingly recognising that our husbands take into consideration our views. Then you must know that God will not let you be snatched from His hand! Part of being in an intimate relationship of marriage is that we are willing to make ourselves vulnerable. Anxiety and complexity in otherwise healthy marriages comes from a wrong view of the relationship. Simplicity comes when we loosen our grip and recognise God as being in ownership and control. I know this can be hard my dear Christian sister. Perhaps you have been married for many years in the habit of holding your husband closer than you ought. Christian disciplines are about making choices and we must choose to let go into Godís hands.

Recognising that your children are not yours to posses but Godís, and only yours to care for for a while, can be very liberating.

Parenting

Many of the same points can be made about parenting. Recognising that your children are not yours to posses but Godís, and only yours to care for for a while, can be very liberating. The burden of parenting falls onto Godís shoulders not ours. He will guide and sustain us through difficult days. We apply ourselves conscientiously to the task but the Ďanxietyí is His. Simplicity and freedom come to the role.

This same attitude brings simplicity to all the other aspects of life. We need to loosen our gripóyes recognise our responsibilitiesóbut take our place less weightily in the world. We will look at the subject applied to other areas of life in future articles.

*Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster Published by Hodder and Stoughton Religious

pg 108 (I have a very old edition)

(place holder)

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This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.