Today we wrap up our look at simplicity, I hope you have learned as much as I have this month. I know that it’s not always simple to follow God and have faith, we’re imperfect humans after all. It’s certainly something we all can strive for though. Today I want to finish our month by talking about finding peace. Psalm 122:7 says:
“May there be peace within your walls. May there be safety in your great buildings.”
I think we all want peace, deep down none of us want to be at war, fight with people or be miserable. Yet so often that’s where we end up. I know I want to have more peace in my life, maybe you do too. Peace isn’t something you can go to the store and buy or attained by doing or not doing certain things. Each of us finds peace in different ways, and peace means different things to each of us. But if you don’t have peace in your life there are a few things you can do to help you discover what peace means to you and why there isn’t peace in your life.
1-make a list of what makes you lack peace. It’s an important first step in getting to peace, because if you don’t acknowledge what causes you pain you can’t do anything about it.
2-get rid of the crap. Yes, get rid of the stuff in your life that drags you down, the stuff that depresses you, the stuff that makes you made, and even the people who unnecessarily complicate your life.
3-bring good stuff into your life. Eat right, have plants in your house, spend time with people you like and make you feel like the best version of you, work a job that satisfies you on multiple levels, and spend time connecting with your soul and spiritual side.
Do you have peace in your life? What brings you peace or where do you find peace?
You’re just one person, but you can do a lot to make a difference in this world. Since this month’s theme is simplicity, I thought I’d share a few very simple things you can do that won’t pinch your wallet too much or cause you too much inconvenience.
-smile (it might be the nicest thing someone has seen in a long time)
-pay for someone’s coffee or fast food
-tip your waiter/waitress an extra 5%
-feed the birds
-offer to help a coworker with a project
-call a friend or family or church member who is struggling
-donate food to the homeless
-take the time to listen to what someone is telling you instead of brushing them off
-show respect and courtesy for others
-donate to a different charity each month, either your time or money
-watch your friend’s kids for a while so they can have a date
-pick up a dessert for your partner and you to share
-take off from work, or schedule a weekend day to spend one-on-one time with your kids
-throw your garbage in a can, and recycle
-buy from local businesses and farm stands
-say “thank you” often
What are some simple ideas that you do to make a difference in the world?
“If you continue to be faithful, I will give you the reward of life.” Revelation 2:10
We are really blessed to live in a world with so many options. It’s really easy to flit from one thing to the next, not being concerned about sticking with just one thing. However, while that may be fine for products and services, it’s not healthy or how God intended our human relationships to be. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s sometimes necessary or the right thing to leave a job, end a friendship or get a divorce. We’re all human, have faults and we do change.
But there’s something really satisfying about working through the differences and hardships with someone. About taking the time to do it right, try a little harder, listen a little closer or put in a little extra effort.
What this verse from Revelation reveals is something that is guaranteed in a relationship with God, and not in a human relationship: God is always going to reciprocate the relationship. When you put work into the relationship you’ll get untold blessings from Him. We humans have lots we can learn from that fact. We’re pretty good at being bad at relationships. I don’t always put as much effort into relationships as I should, but the relationships that I have are exponentially better and stronger than those that aren’t as tended to.
Have you been faithful to put time and effort into your relationship with God? What about your relationship with your family, your partner or your friends? If you make the time for the relationships that really matter to you, you won’t regret it.
“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.” Charles Warner
Given the world we live it it seems almost impossible that we could live baggage-free lives. So the challenge to us becomes learning what baggage to carry with us, and what to leave behind. It’s not easy to leave things behind, but it’s important to if you want to move forward with your life in a healthy way.
When a big life change like being pregnant or losing your job occurs, usually there’s a period of settling and getting adjusted, and then after that you have to choose how to move forward, and what your attitude will be as you go. But if you want a new job or want to keep the baby, you’ve got to start preparing for the future. Part of preparing for the future means leaving things behind. Your life shouldn’t remain exactly as it was before children, nor should you job search as if you were going to get the exact same job with the exact same company.
When you deal with a change you have to choose what comes next for you. Do you take the new opportunities held out to you or do you stick with what you know? Life becomes much simpler when you’re able to choose to voluntarily move into the next phase of your life. It’s not always easy to leave the pain or the good stuff behind; they are a part of who we are. But your ability to let things become just memories and not weights in your life will enable you to move forward in a way that someone who couldn’t let go could.
I’m not saying that we should let go of all our possessions, or not care about anything in our lives. It’s impossible to do that. But the larger reality is that life changes and moves on. I encourage you to consider what areas you’re holding back on in life, and choose to reach for the amazing potential just waiting for you.
“Proverbs will teach you wisdom and self-control and how to understand sayings with deep meanings. You will learn what is right and honest and fair. From these, an ordinary person can learn to be smart, and young people can gain knowledge and good sense.” Proverbs 1:2-4
These days everyone wants to be smart, but what if we were wise? What would we do differently? Would we spend more time at home with our families, or still work 80 hour weeks? Would we spend more time at church or out in nature? While any of those things may be the right thing for our lives, what I know needs to change is our self-control and our common sense. Why? Because people seem to be in short supply of both of these. I know I have the occasional moment of stupidity, who doesn’t, right? But the overwhelming lack of common sense, smarts, and self-control that I see in everywhere today makes me question where we are headed as a society, as a world.
What if we were to take the time instead of just reacting to what someone says, to think it through and get to the core of their fear and hurt, before responding? What if we were to do things for the greater good, not just the easier thing? What if we were to think before we acted? Why do these simple things seem so hard to do?
I think part of the reason it seems like they’re not part of our lives anymore is because we’ve gotten caught up in the fast pace of society. It’s hard for us to slow down enough to watch the clouds go by or have something to eat without doing work or something else. We also have been lax in instilling these important values in our children. Instead we’ve focused on success and satisfaction.
Today I encourage you to choose simple words: let your yes be yes and your no, no. Choose to say “I love you” to someone. And do your best to think before speaking. Your words are one of the most powerful tools you have.
This month one of the things we’ve been talking about simplicity. I have to admit that I really like the simple things in life, like a puppy’s love, a kid’s joy, a mug of green tea, a bowl of pasta, a good book; I don’t need to be jet-setting, lavished with expensive gifts, or living in a house with endless rooms. That’s not to say I’m ever bored, I definitely like being busy, but I also schedule in time for things like nature walks and just sitting outside.
Where am I going with all this? Society does its best to complicate our lives. There are new products constantly, new inventions, new people to meet, more places we can go, and more opportunities for each of us. Not all of those new things are bad for us, in fact some of them do make our lives simpler. I’m very thankful for the invention of cars and airplanes that have made it much easier to see family and care for each other, as well as cell phones that allow us to keep in touch and ask for help when we need it.
What ends up complicating our lives is our inability to make a decision, to say no, or to let things go. We want more and more, without making room for what we want. Think of it like a fishbowl: there is only so much water you can put in the bowl before the water (and the fish) start coming out. What does this mean for you?
If your life is too full, too complicated, it’s probably past time to make room and let go of stuff.
I don’t suggest we all become monks in the hills living in little cabins. Instead, we should all make sure that our lives are filled with things that bless us and help us move forward and create more victories in life, not held back by clutter and stubbornness. Be willing to learn, change, grow and let go. Be willing to embrace the freedom we celebrated with July 4th last week in all areas of your life.
This past week in the USA we’ve celebrated Independence Day, and the freedoms we’re blessed with as a nation. As I was thinking about who we are as a nation and those freedoms, I was reminded of Galatians 5:1, 22-23 which reads:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery….But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Faith in Christ is based on some very simple concepts, concepts seen in these verses, concepts that should be fairly easy to incorporate into and be guided by in our lives. The Fruit of the Spirit are a big part of what makes us free as believers. They’re also qualities that should be part of every human life, not just those with faith in Jesus. What has happened that these aren’t essential to who we are anymore, but instead our bank accounts and job successes are?
Like this verse says, I think we’ve gotten ourselves tied down with things that ultimately don’t matter, and have forgotten what really does. Yes, to an extent I’m talking about spiritual truths. But I’m really talking about basic concepts of human nature that seem to be missing in many relationships and individuals’ lives. Many of us don’t know how to speak with another person with decency and courtesy, don’t seem to care about consequences of their actions, and don’t do their part in spreading peace.
This week I encourage you to put these qualities back in your life. I’m not assuming you’re someone who doesn’t live by these, maybe you are. But I am confident that you have moments of weakness and forgetfulness like I do. Maybe a reminder like these cool stair decals or this plaque are just what you need. I don’t know about you, but I think the world would be a better place if we all lived more by these Fruit. And the only way to make that happen is if we first start living that way ourselves.