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The Outward Expression of Simplicity

These days, I’m rereading the classic, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. I read this book years ago – another stage of life – and between diaper changes, sport practices, homework, keeping a home and staying sane,  I can’t say it had a significant impact on me. This time around, it’s a whole new ballgame. I can’t help thinking, “If I had slowed down long enough to allow Foster’s words and the Holy Spirit to permeate my mind, most likely those young mom years wouldn’t have been so overwhelming.”

Hindsight is always 20/20, right?

When I was young, spiritual disciplines of any kind were a struggle for me.  They were not liberating at all – every spiritual discipline felt unnatural. Daily devotions, studying the Word, fasting and prayer were so foreign to me as a fourteen-year-old newborn child of God. On one hand, self-discipline was a close friend of mine because my gymnastics career demanded it. How thankful I am that self-discipline spilled over to my academic, social, emotional and intellectual life as I made my way through university. But spiritual discipline was painful. Solitude and stillness were frightening for me because I was not ready to feel deeply and examine the fear that drove me to busyness, approval of others, anxiety, performance and control.

Over the years, the messiness and disappointments of life have driven me to a place of longing for peace.

They have led me to the foot of the cross.

And now, abundant life includes spiritual disciplines that call me to move beyond surface living into the depths. My inner spirit is in process of being set free from all that holds it down and I am feasting on the wisdoms shared in this classic book.

One highlight thus far has been a section entitled, The Outward Expression of Simplicity. 

What a reminder it has been that simplicity is freedom and brings great joy and settling balance. Foster reminds us that “The preacher of Ecclesiastes observed that, ‘God made man simple. Man’s complex problems are of his own devising.’ (Ecclesiastes 7.29, Jerusalem Bible)

Foster writes, “Experiencing the inward reality of simplicity liberates us outwardly” and he goes on to list ten controlling principles for the outward expression of simplicity.

Good stuff. Take a look.

  1. Buy things for their usefulness, rather than their status.
  2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
  3. Develop a habit of giving things away. De-accumulate.
  4. Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
  5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them. Owning things is an obsession in our culutre. If we own it, we feel we can control it.
  6. Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
  7. Look with a healthy skepticism at all, “buy now, pay later” schemes. They are a trap and serve to deepen your bondage.
  8. Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech. Let what you say be simply, “yes” or “no.”
  9. Reject anything that will breed the oppression of others.
  10. Shun whatever would distract you from your main goal.  – to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

It encourages me heart greatly to know that I am appreciating and living out many of these principles – and life feels lighter. I want less, not more. If something comes in this house, something goes out. When Chris and I make a decision, the right answer is what makes our life simpler, not more complicated. I delight in giving things away. I want to share more.

How easy it is to get caught up in the muchness and many of this culture – it happened to me recently when my mind went to residing our house –  but in the midst of it all, I was so gently reminded that there is great joy in simplicity…

…so we just power washed the siding and moved on. 🙂

I don’t know who said this but I like it: “Simplicity is not about depravation. Simplicity is about greater appreciation for things that really matter.”

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