Long before I clued in to the fact that the ways of Jesus go hand-in-hand with a life of simplicity, I was intrigued by the concept. One of the first books to peak my interest was Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James. Though not Biblically-based, the book is full of practical ideas for cutting away the excess that creeps into our homes and hearts. Below are a few of the author’s “100 ways to slow down and enjoy the things that really matter” that our family has implemented into our lives over the last several years.
One of St. James’ “hardcore” simplifying suggestions is to stop making the bed. Not much of a challenge ‘round these parts! Canceling magazine subscriptions and not taking the newspaper has saved counter space, money, and the time of pilfering through it all…not to mention trees! We stay up-to-date on current events via the Internet. Living in a smaller house (compared to the average American) has forced us to reduce clutter. We’re not doling out cash to rent storage space, by golly! We also like to leave our shoes at the front door to keep from tracking who-knows-what-funk into our home. This practice also helps maintain our flooring. Plus it just feels more like home running around in our bare feet! We make use of our answering machine and don’t answer the phone just because it's ringing. And many years ago, we decided to drop call waiting; we felt that answering the obnoxious beep was like allowing someone to interrupt your conversation with someone else. Not cool. So we saved a few bucks and got rid of it. Most of the time we pack our own lunch. Healthier and much less expensive. We are also proponents of the adage to work where you live or live where you work. For us it means less stress (due to sitting in traffic), less money spent on gas, less wear-and-tear on our vehicle, and a whole lot more time with each other. And finally, one of my favorites: learn to laugh (some suggestions come more naturally than others!).
Isn’t much of the motivation to simplify about freeing up time and energy for our relationships? Matthew 6:19 reads: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth….Store your treasures in heaven….” The only thing we can carry with us into the next world are people. So why not rid ourselves of as many earthly treasures as possible? And instead focus on storing up the treasures of God’s children. Jana