Simplicity has been coming up so much in my life lately. We've been talking about it in my Capstone (spiritual formations) class as a part of our Social Justice unit. The first week of the Lenten devotional I've been doing focused on simplicity. Now our passion group is going to start discussing simplicity. Also, simplicity has been raised by a group on campus, sparking conversations with people about the topic.
I really do want to make my life more simple. I can see not only how simplicity can benefit me (better focus on God and a less stressful life), but it also can help me be more generous since I'll be spending less money and have more time. It seems that there are two kinds of simplicity, and both are important.
To me, external simplicity seems a lot easier to figure out. Practical ways to implement external simplicity could be slimming down your wardrobe and giving away the extra clothes, walking when you can instead of driving, limiting how much money you spend on coffee or eating out, or even sharing items (a lawnmower, a garden, even a house) with others.
Internal simplicity is a little harder for me to pin down. It seems to me more about removing mental clutter and unnecessary activities from your life. Ways to implement internal simplicity could include being involved in fewer activities, taking time each day to be still and pray, and cutting down on mindless distractions like tv.
I've been thinking a lot about things I can do to live more simply. Of course, clothes is a big issue. I am not an advocate of only having two changes of clothes and never buying anything new, but I do see how the amount of clothes I have border on the ridiculous. I started a new policy recently that I call The Hanger Rule. I will not buy more hangers. If I get more clothes, then I have to get rid of some to make room. This is a start, but I think I do need to pare down my closet some more. I also try to limit how many clothes I buy for full price. If I really need something, I try to shop sales or go to a thrift store.
I also decided that I need to stop snacking when I'm not really hungry. This not a huge problem for me, but I probably do it every one to two weeks or so (depending on the time of year--finals week is a lot more). I convince myself that I am actually hungry when I really don't need food. That habit is not only bad for me healthwise, but it's a big waste of money. I really need to be conscious of when I am actually hungry and when my mouth is just hungry.
Finally, probably the biggest thing I'm learning (and struggling with) is the idea of holding my possessions loosely. Of course, I've heard all my life that my stuff isn't really my stuff but God's stuff and life isn't just about things, but when I think about it, I don't really live like that's what I believe. Some of my things I really don't care about. Like food. I love to share food with people, and I have absolutely no qualms about giving it away. Or even my car. Cars are nice, but I'm not that worried about them. The real thing I struggle with is the funny little things that I get attached to. For example, the other day I had a dinner with a bunch of people and my favorite cup was lost. It sounds silly, but I was rather unhappy that MY favorite cup was lost and I was thinking that I shouldn't have brought it to the dinner. Then I realized that maybe it's good that my cup was lost. I don't want anything, much less a stupid cup, to become so important to me that I consider not even letting others use it. I want to live the reality of God being the true owner of my stuff.
Anyway, these are just a few things that I have been tossing around lately. We'll see how it goes.