I wake up without an alarm, slip on my clothes, and splash in the creek. Overturn rocks and uncover hidden creatures. Bask in the sunshine as I ride my bike across the bumpy gravel. Walk to the tunnel or jump off the porch. Rest by opening a book, writing a story, or creating a play – with my Barbie’s as the actresses.
There’s nothing too complicated about life. I am free to be me.
Middle school comes, and I realize playing outside and reading aren’t everyone’s passion. Bummer. Girls have long hair and wear makeup. Clothes aren’t just for wearing; they’re for being fashionable. I hear of diets and hair color. My teeth require braces. My hair a perm. Grades are important – making C’s is frowned upon.
Simple living becomes complicated. Achievement, beauty, and belonging are expected. By whom? I am not sure. I just intuitively know that straight A’s, nice clothes, and popularity are important.
I am not so free to be me. Wait, who am I? Am I a reading, rock-collecting, Dukes of Hazard-watching, creek-wading tomboy? Or this new girl. Friend-making, popularity-seeking, grade-producing, diet conscious overachiever?
I go with the latter. It seems best.
And it continues to seem best. Somewhere in the preteen years I lose simple. Nothing is ever simple again.
So, 40 comes, and I fondly remember that chubby girl with short locks who splashed through the dirty water without a care in the world. A know-it-all who had to be right and loved to be the boss. Confidence and stubbornness oozed from her pores. She loves to perform and tell jokes. She thinks she’s a hoot.
Where did she go?
She went the way of culture. She wanted to fit in and succeed. So, she did.
And now? Now, she wants to find simple again. While she can’t escape responsibilities – her life is a lot of adulting – she can find simple…in her heart.
I have discovered a busy life can also be simple. So can a life with goals. Simpleness isn’t always a state of doing – or not doing. It’s more a state of being.
Stripping away all the barriers and bull to live in the moment. A heart that notes the rhythms of each day, never missing a chance to see the divine or sacred in the ordinary.
So, while I have goals – and I am looking forward to learning, changing, and growing this year – I am most thankful for the ways I’ve learned to stop complicating life and move toward simple.
A simple meal. A simple reading of God’s word. A simple task. A simple word of encouragement or prayer. A simple invite. A simple change in daily routine or habits. A simple hug or hello. A simple smile.
These comprise a simple life that’s not complicated with popularity and producing. With drama and doing. With being the best or like the rest. And while these things may be born of the simple life, they are not the essence of it. They’re not the goal – Jesus is. And that makes all the difference in the world.
(NOTE: The music from this year’s Passion Conference was amazing; however, this song captured my heart most – A Simple Pursuit by Melodie Malone )