A friend of mine suggested that a “word for the year” be adopted as a kind of guiding concept for 2011. I decided that I would reach back and dust off an old one that I have inadvertently lost touch with in a meaningful way. The word is SIMPLICITY.
Complexity. That is the opposite and pretty much defines life as we know it in the present era. Many years ago it was predicted by some ‘sage’ that with the coming of the modern age of computers and labor saving devices we would have shorter work hours and more leisure time. It was estimated that we would probably work something like four hours a day. But what we seem to have inherited instead is an ever-increasing pace of daily life that demands that we keep up with everything new that comes along. And I think that this invisible monster is sucking the life out of many of us.
Because knowledge is no longer increasing in a linear fashion, but rather as an exponential explosion, I believe our anxiety also escalates as we realize our inability to fully access, manage and incorporate all the new data. But in our attempt to not feel so powerless in the face of all this “progress”, we are investing more of our time, and as a result, sacrificing our relationships with people. And often as a way of coping we escape into entertainment – video games, television, movies, computers, etc.
It is not just my relationship with others that suffers, but also the relationship with myself. I do not spend as much time reflecting, praying, working on my spiritual and character growth when I am consumed by “the things of this world.” I can put God at the end of my priority list, rather than at the top. And I usually find that the last few items on my list don’t get done.
Back to my word for the year. My solution is to ruthlessly simplify. I question all new technology before I embrace it, knowing that there is a learning curve and a price to be paid (in dollars, in addition to time.) I guard my time and schedule and do not surrender easily to demands for it. I resist collecting “stuff” that adds little value to my life, clutters up my environment, costs money, and requires maintenance. This is an ongoing battle, both emotionally and physically, and requires swimming against the current of our culture. But isn’t that what the Bible told us we would need to resist – being conformed to this world?
Romans 12:2 “Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think."
And I think somehow that delayed gratification is a first cousin to simplicity. It has been proven that those who have the ability to resist their impulses usually have more successful and satisfying lives.
How about you? Can you say ‘no’ to yourself when it comes to foolishly spending your time, your money, and your life energy? Can you embrace a simple life and be content in all things? (Phil 4:11 & 1 Tim 6:8.)
It’s something to think about.