The Five Lenses of Simplicity

What do you want?

It is a question that has long plagued my existence. I find myself presented with the question each year. Whether it is a birthday, Father’s Day or Christmas, the question of what I want is sure to arise. At different ages of my life it has been different things. There was the Christmas I wanted “Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man” action figure. Apparently that was me and every other young boy that year because they were sold out and I acted like a spoiled brat. Of course there have been the many years since where I have kept my wants to a minimum. This is not because I was being more thoughtful or frugal but because the fewer things asked for, the more likely one is to receive them.

There is no doubt I could do without many of the things in my life. I have grown to see more clearly what I want, or more to the point, I have gotten a better taste of what matters in my life. Experiences and memories have come to mean far more than stuff. It is at this point I expect you are like me and realize that what we want is worlds apart from what we actually need.

A life of simplicity is part of what makes the spiritual life so attractive to so many. As we face the beginning of the 21st Century, I am amazed and in awe of many of the adventures I see my younger friends embarking on. As a former youth pastor, I have followed on Facebook former students, traveling the world, through hiking the longest trails in the USA, giving themselves to others again and again. While I would love to think I had something to do with that, I am not that nieve. They are different generation that though dependent on technology, also see the value in having little to hold one back.

"The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head," were the words Jesus used to describe how God incarnate was living life on planet Earth (Matt 8:20, NASB). The tempter would come to Jesus before he even began his ministry (Matthew 4:8-9) and taunted Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus did not buy it. From Jesus, to Paul and Peter and through the centuries, the freshest air is that breathed by those who live life most simply.

In recent weeks, I’ve been in the process of what the late Stephen Covey called, “Sharpening the Saw.” Just as tools need to be maintained to be useful, we need to take time to reflect on ourselves, on our own lives. As a cancer survivor and one now living with a low vision disability, I have already begun ruling out ‘things’ as the path to finding solace in simplicity. Instead, I encourage you to consider these questions, what I call The 5
Lenses of Simplicity:

1. When are you happiest?

2. Where have your most fond memories taken place?

3. How do you schedule your time to make memories?

4. Who are the people you find joy being with?

5. What are the activities you look forward to doing?

Consider these the starting point for how you might live more simply. Do not just take the answers at face value but consider what the answer might be telling you. For instance, if your most fond memories were as a kid visiting your grandparents farm, what implications does that reveal? The farm might now be a neighborhood BUT was it working on the farm that made it special? Was it the pastures? The animals? The family time? Consider what you might do to recapture that rather what you must have.


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