Why is it so hard to simplify our lives? In the Christian world, we talk a lot about spirituality. Richard Foster, Charles Swindoll, and many other authors even include “simplicity” in their list of spiritual disciplines. We all know we are juggling too much, and we all want more free time to be with family, friends, and God. Yet, when it comes down to it, it seems like an impossible task. See? Even trying to simplify our lives becomes another item in our busy “to-do” list.
Recently I was overseas in Serbia. Serbia is an Eastern European country, and they are not a poor nation, but they are poor-er than the US. Over there, people just have less than we do. While I was over there, I stayed offline for the most part and did not ave a cell phone with me. My possessions were obviously limited to one suitcase as well. I hung out with the Serbs, who spent time outdoors- away from computers, video games, errands, or other rote tasks. It was so nice to spend a week without all of the “stuff” that clutters my life! I know part of this is being out of the country and away from work. But part of it was also just having literally less stuff in my life.
In the airplaine on the way home, I began to think about all the emails I’d have to catch up on, phone calls I’d have to return, and room in my closet/room I’d have to make for new clothes or souvenirs I’d bought. The first few days back I noticed how annoying it was that I own at least five purses that I’m constantly switching wallets, keys, glasses, etc in and out of. Even the trunk of my car is full of sports equipment, winter shoes, and other items I don’t have room for in my apartment.
So how do I simplify my life? Is it as simple as selling most of my possessions? I would say yes, except my guess is that it would just start to build up again…I think people like Shayne Claiborne get it right when they don’t just talk about living radical, they do it.
And I wonder what it will take for me to give up all my meaningless “stuff”, simplify my life, and live the radical life…