Randy Alcorn explains in his (highly-recommended) The Treasure Principle, “The more things we own—the greater their total mass, the more they grip us, setting us in orbit around them.”
We sense this, I think. We sense that where our treasure is, there our hearts will also be. That the holes in our lives are never filled by more stuff, more food, more activity.
(I want to admit freely at this point that sometimes my inner “Martha” sometimes cleans the clock of my inner Mary, leaving poor Mary bruised and dazed.)
Richard Foster observes, “To attempt to arrange an outward lifestyle of simplicity without the inward reality leads to deadly legalism.”
Simplicity begins in inward focus and unity …. Experiencing the inward reality liberates us outwardly. Speech becomes truthful and honest. The lust for status and position is gone because we no longer need status and position. We cease from showy extravagance not on the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle. Our goods become available to others. We join the experience that Richard E. Byrd, after months alone in the barren Arctic, recorded in his journal, “I am learning … that a man can live profoundly without masses of things.”
Simplicity is a way of cutting out the “McNuggets” portion of our belongings, our schedule, our talk, and our preoccupations that connive us into thinking we’re nourished, full, and happy.
To live simply is this: to find the freedom, joy, undivided heart, and gut-level satisfaction from lives untethered by excess. We can train our minds and hearts away from our constant appetites and the idea that more equals happiness, comfort, and convenience. (Find more practical ideas on how to live simplicity here.)
The gifts we keep
My family—as much as it breaks me—is preparing to move back to the U.S. in two months. Though there are so many intangibles I get to keep from Africa’s benevolent hands—I am mentally sliding our belongings into piles: Pack. Sell. Give. And as much as it pains me to enter this process again with its losses (my beloved children’s-book collection!), Uganda silently lays in my arms a parting gift in dark disguise. After landing here with 18 bags (each weighing in exactly at 51 lbs.) and six bulging-to-the-point-of-grotesque-deformity carry-on bags, I again am required to cut back; to choose leanness. (…Er, leaner.)
I’m reminded of my friend Ashley, who shares a compound with Monica. Ashley has a cutie-patootie four-month-old, and their home is far simpler than mine. I recalled to her my first trip to Babies ‘R’ Us, and distinctly thinking, “How did Adam and Eve do this?!” I love that Ashley is giving their son a gift far better than all the little gadgets and mind-stimulating toys that, perhaps, mimic the outdoors her son will actually grow up in. She’s giving him the gift of less stuff.
Now that’s what I call a baby gift.
For more thoughts on simplifying, read Janel’s post here.