Living simply is a concept that has captivated my attention for a few years now. Through my experiences and studies and relationships, I’ve become attracted to the concept of simple living and it’s been something I’ve started to practice while at Taylor and a lifestyle I plan to pursue after I graduate.
When I first started reading and learning and studying what it meant to live simply, a lot of what I found had to do with living “green” and in tiny houses and wearing the same outfits a lot. While I agree that these aspects can contribute greatly to simple living, I don’t think that they fully encompass what living simply truly means.
I’ve wrestled with this concept, feeling like I’ve messed up my practice of living simply a thousand times. I felt that there were restrictions and condemnation around this lifestyle, that when I didn’t perfectly fulfill the lists of physical things I needed to do the label would be stripped from me and therefore, I wasn’t worthy enough to be pursuing this life. This bothered me and one day I decided to really figure out what living simply meant to me.
So in this pursuit of simplicity, I looked up several different definitions of “simple”. I decided that if I wanted to live this way, I had to specifically know what I was trying to do and why I was trying to do it, without condemnation and feeling restricted. After looking through many definitions on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website, the one I found that most fits the life I want to live is defined as: “not limited or restricted: unconditional”.
In a paradoxical way, I’ve discovered living simply has a complex depth to it. It’s a fluid concept, changing alongside the people who chose to live it out. With each transition and ushering in of the new comes an altered version of simplicity tailored specifically to the life it accompanies.
Because of this, it’s important to remember that your story of simplicity will look different than mine, and that’s ok. Your simple lifestyle is just as valid and meaningful.
To me, simplicity doesn’t primarily look like living “green” or only environmentally friendly or in an extreme minimalistic way, although I think it involves those things and they’re aspects I’m learning to practice as I live in a house with friends who also value a simple lifestyle.
Simplicity means more to me than that, it runs deeper than the physical reality of my surrounding environment.
To me, living simply means living closest to the things that matter without the distraction of excess.
Living simply means investing deeply and wholeheartedly in my relationship with Jesus, my family, and those around me. It means working hard at the things that matter, such as teaching and writing and consistently learning and growing as I aim to love those around me in the purest way possible.
Choosing to fully live this way means I have to cut out certain aspects of my life in order to fully engage in the relationships and moments and work I find meaningful.
This takes sacrifice and intentionality and making hard decisions.
Living simply means I have to analyze how I spend my time, shifting a few things around and carving a few things out completely, such as excessive time on social media or leaving my phone behind during dinner. By making these small decisions, I’ve found the space to fully engage in what matters because I have the time to do them, such as being with Jesus and unrestrictedly doing life with the people I live in community with. I’ve found the time to run, to write, and to laugh. I’ve been less distracted or worried about getting everything done because I’m being intentional with how my time looks, cutting out the meaningless activities.
Simple living looks like evaluating how I use my resources and deciding what to invest in and what to skip out on, being intentional with how I spend my money and what I choose to buy in order to reap the benefits. By choosing to buy healthy, local food and pay for meaningful experiences with people instead of flippantly shopping every sale, I’ve been more satisfied in my body and experiences and financial situation.
Through these decisions I’ve found that I have more time to spend pursing what matters, more energy to participate in healthy, full relationships, and more resources to invest in what is beneficial. By cutting out the excess, by cutting out those things that distract from what I am made to invest in, I’ve found abundant life and meaning.
This is why I choose to engage in the process of simple living. I want to open up space to dwell in the things that matter, to live closely to those things and experience life in the most raw, authentic way possible; the way I believe the Lord intended us to experience it. Simple living is an ongoing, unlimited process, one that will change as I do, but the purpose stays the same. I want to live closest to the things that matter most, which takes sacrifice and work in every circumstance.
I hope you find a few spaces in your life to clear out and start to make room for what matters to you, for those things that fill you with life and love and a deep sense of meaning. Living simply means to fully engage in the life the Lord calls us to without restrictions and distractions, to experience every drop of it. I wish you well in this process.