In answer to a search for a simpler lifestyle, I have found focusing the Christian life, not simplifying it to be key.Jean Fleming – Between Walden and the Whirlwind
I have to admit in some ways I love minimalist, simplicity, eating farm to table, the capsule wardrobe. There is a classic elegance, a graceful way of living when we are able to say that nothing else is needed. When one candle on the table is enough. Just a few perfect flowers in a vase. Two great books that make you think instead of twenty stories that simply entertain and then are caste aside.
Summer tomatoes right off the vine with salt are perfect. But something goes awry when the simplified is no longer acting out its very definition- that action of making something easier. There is no better salsa than homemade fresh from the Farmer’s Market, but really, do I have to make it when my children are visiting and I have other time demands? It wasn’t a disaster or anything but I paid a price and I’m not sure it was worth it.
The salsa is good, but I was hot and hurried and tired and not at my friendliest. And my daughter reminded me I could just buy it at the store. It was fresh and full of healthy ingredients. Focus.
What is this shift of focus Jean Fleming is talking about? Beyond its meaning of being the center of attention, focus is the ability to see something clearly. For me this is where the shift is. This realization that focus is seeing something clearly without halos, shadows, and obstructions; while simplifying is making something easier which almost seems the same but it really isn’t.
We can’t really know what to clear away and get rid of unless we focus on what our purpose is, what is actually important right now. If our purpose involves something that is going to be difficult then we have to go through it, not simplify it, or try to make it easier. Which mostly sounds terrible until you remember Jesus offers to carry our burdens:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
We can trust Him in our quest to simplify our hearts and minds and lives. As well as our quest for purity in foods, and uncluttered homes. Let Him guide you to what is important to focus on. Sometimes life is chaotic and houses are messy because a focus is being pursued. Something eternal may be happening, like children being raised or relationships being renewed or maybe Jesus has invited you to sit at his feet and learn to rest.
I think focus wins.