God’s been working on opening my heart to simplicity. He’s using just about every part of my world right now to show me the richness of less. I got to take an incredible trip to Costa Rica with my mom, where I had a lot less of what I’m used to and a lot more of what I need. Less TV, less processed food, less internet, less distraction, less noise. More sunshine, more yoga, more quiet, more stillness, more reading. I’m becoming more aware every day of how much extra of just about everything surrounds us all the time. What would happen if we turned the television off and talked to one another? What would happen if we ate less food and spent more time outside? What would happen if we spoke less and listened more? We’d chill out, that’s what would happen. We’d realize that we don’t need to eat all day, or have the TV on as background noise all day, or vocalize everything we think and feel.
As a person who is a professional communicator, an actress, director, and storyteller, it’s difficult for me to give “just the facts.” I love telling stories. I love the drama, and getting the laugh. I love it, love it, love it. But sometimes I just need to shut up and let other people do the talking. Sometimes, my story isn’t that important and telling it does little more than make me the center of attention, and sometimes that’s all I’m after. God says, “Okay, but try listening. Try not needing to get the laugh. Try simple.” That’s not to say that telling stories is bad or that I’m going to stop, full stop. But maybe I ought to be okay NOT telling the story every once in a while. Simple.
It’s amazing how much food we think we need here. I ate a couple of healthy, nutrient rich meals every day in Costa Rica and I had the energy I needed without the lethargy or bloating after. Seriously, try to go a week without constant snacking. I dare say you’ll survive, even feel better, and possibly lose a couple of pounds. We are surrounded by food every day and we need far less of it than the advertisements, the “professionals,” the news makers, and the chefs who dish out enormous portions at restaurants tell us we need. If it didn’t exist in your great grandmother’s pantry, you probably don’t need it in your body. If it did, you probably don’t need 3 or 4 servings of it at a time. Eat what your body tells you it really needs, then walk away. Simple.
For the better part of the past few years I have been employed, paying my bills on time, and able to splurge on dinner out with friends and the like. It’s amazing to me now to think of how incredibly blessed I have been. Today, I’m not sure where the money for my next round of bills will come from. I haven’t had a steady paycheck in months. A few times, I’ve let myself panic and worry over where the cash will possibly come from for this bill or that tank of gas. Each time, I’ve cried and prayed and within hours gotten a call to babysit, or come to an interview, or received an unexpected tax return or check in the mail. You see, I don’t need as much as I’m used to having or expecting. What I need is to obey and listen to God who doesn’t just do provision but is provision. Simple.
I’m also learning how to experience discomfort. It sounds silly, but it’s pretty huge for me. Yoga is showing me many of my habits- good and bad. In the past, I have had a tendency to retreat from any kind of discomfort: emotional, physical, you name it. It took my teacher ordering me to scream at the top of my lungs during a particularly difficult yoga practice, then a few minutes crying my way through vinyasa to realize that on the other side of discomfort lies breakthrough. Feeling anger and wanting to retreat do not make me weak or wretched. That makes me human. The question is “Will you retreat? Or will you sit in this until it passes?” It’s uncomfortable to sit in your anger, your pain, your frustration. But it always passes, and it always grows you. On the other side is breakthrough. Huge breakthrough. So, be pissed off. Be uncomfortable. That’s fine. But be patient, too. Don’t retreat because the moments of discomfort will not defeat you. Be in it, then let it pass, and learn what you can. Simple.
God does not give a biography when He introduces Himself. He says, “I AM.” Simple.
Simple is not easy. Often, it’s a hell of a lot harder than it sounds. Tuning out and turning off is easy. Self medicating with food or Facebook is easy. Telling stories to keep people at arm’s distance is easy. Sitting with the quiet, inviting in the presence of God, and letting people in is so simple, but it’s not easy.
I encourage you to give simple a try. It is not easy, but it is always better.