Simple.This is something my man and I are getting better at these days (or to be honest, something my sweet, steady Tay is teaching me, his ever-thinking, questioning wife). It’s a theme that constantly resonates through our minds and the walls of our home. We are striving toward simplicity, toward the basics, toward the heart of matters. In a world that is so twisted and knotted and woven together with the complexities of humanity, hurt, decisions, comparisons, questions…. we have chosen simple.
And here, in simple, we find peace, answers, grace, joy, and direction.
It began with a look at our African home. The walls and shelves are not covered in the frills of what we’ve always known as a home. The kitchen is not stocked with millions of little gadgets and appliances and we eat on plastic plates from Target. In fact, I have just one pan that I really love and appreciate. There is one set of sheets, one lap blanket, one couch, and a coffee table that doubles as a bench for our dinner guests. And in all these little aspects of our home, we are comfortable, blessed, and full. I cannot say I don’t love and sometimes wish for little luxuries, nor do I think that is always wrong… The frills are nice and cozy, the kitchen toys are exciting and convenient, and the extras are fun to switch it up sometimes. But our joy does not rest in that. And that is comfort. To be freed from keeping up with the Jones’, freed from comparison and defined by more than home décor. It’s simple: Scripture calls us to have a clean and orderly home and a door open wide with hospitality. It is through this that He will pour into our home warmth, smiles, and rest.
We have also begun to pursue simplicity in our efforts to engage with others. Relationships are sticky and involved. People are complex, different, and misunderstood. Ministry is a choice, a strategy, and intentional. What if they think this? What if I offend that? What if I can’t reach here? What if they’re not interested? What better response to this web of daily interactions than a simple and steady one? Scripture calls us to serve one another humbly in love (Galations 5:13). If we are a light to those we encounter, the answers to those other questions seem to fade into the background. Seek to understand. Care as I would want to be cared for. Be an encouraging voice. Tell the truth. Serve.
Funny how this basic concept carries over into the marriage relationship as well. Simplicity is not found in manipulation (i.e… “how can I get him to do this?”), nor in selfish ambition (“yes, but this frustrates what I want!”), nor in a record of wrongs (“does he even think about what he is doing?”). A marriage, we’re learning, boils down these basic questions: Am I serving my husband humbly and in love? Am I fair to him as I would want him to be fair to me? Have I considered him, esteemed him, appreciated him, and adored him (or her…)? It’s simple: love your spouse as you love yourself. These things are often hard to do, but the instruction is straightforward. We must stop bogging ourselves down with all the “what can I get out of this?” questions and just love simply and serve humbly. This is simple, and this is where marriage flourishes into the beautiful gift that it is.
And finally, the simplest thing of all, the most basic of actions, the core of all we do and all we are- Prayer. God wants to give us good things. We are (I am) constantly guilty of complicating everything: “That person drives me crazy.” “I’m just struggling to exercise and eat right.” “I wish I had faith like him.” “I hope we are good parents one day.” Go to God! Sometimes we pray for specific circumstances to change and God answers in His own way, perhaps different than what we wanted, such as a sickness or a career change. But when we pray for character traits like discipline, patience, faith, leadership, and all those GOOD THINGS that God desires so greatly for us to have, He will provide exactly what we ask! The answer is yes. How simple is that? Scripture is not complex. Truth will always speak for itself, and the truths of God’s Word consistently point us toward the plans of a future and hope for us, if we simply come near to God and seek Him with our whole hearts. He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to be strong. He wants us to be meek, bold, self-controlled, confident, kind, merciful, prayerful, responsible, humble, encouraging, joyful….. insert whatever you may need from God that is undeniably good, something that will ease you toward holiness, a stronghold that’s tangled your feet from which He is longing to unravel you, the promises He made that He is waiting for you to claim. It’s simple: Ask God. Draw near to Him and allow Him to show you the hope and future He has for you.
Simplicity. It’s not a hard concept to grasp once you get it, but it’s one that is so easy to look right over. Search for it today. Challenge yourself to see it. It found us here on the tip of Africa, when the complexities of questions and burdens and plans and “what nows” were just too much for us. God can meet you there and whisper, “Look here,” as He did for Taylor and me, and you will be filled with a peace beyond measure that is rooted in just two simple commandments…
“Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
God is good, all the time. That's a simple truth. Allow Him to do something good for you today.