In pursuit of simplicity

outloud title bar[notice]A monthly column by Vivienne Solomons who is a legal consultant who passionately believes that God wants His people to make a difference right where they are and to stand up for what is true and just. She is also passionate about encouraging young women to walk victoriously with God and she is engaged in a challenging faith journey as a parent of a child with special needs.[/notice]For the past year or so I have intentionally set about pursuing a simpler life. A simpler life? In the modern age? Let me explain. Tired of feeling overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted I felt the need to uncomplicate my life. As a Christian, this has meant that I focus on who God has called me to be and pursue that which He has created me for. Consequently, I made a decision to stop doing things that don’t really matter (right now, or perhaps at all) so that I can devote my time to, and build my life on what does. But, as you might have guessed or already know, it is easier said than done! The road to simplicity involves more than just cleaning out cupboards and organising your living space, and it isn’t just about doing less; importantly, it demands that we unclutter our souls.

In his book, Simplify Bill Hybels outlines 10 practices for eradicating the clutter and moving toward a simplified life:

1. Replenish your energy reserves
Each of us has an energy bucket that needs to remain full if we are to live the life we have been called to live. It is our responsibility (and no one else’s) to keep our buckets filled and to identify ways in which to replenish lost energy. For me, that means having a daily connection with God and with those I love, in addition to making time for exercise and having fun. When we replenish our energy reserves, we are no longer exhausted but refreshed and energised.

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2. Harness your calendar’s power
Our busy, modern lives often leave us overcommitted and feeling overwhelmed. If we are not intentional with our time, the things we care about will take a backseat to the urgent priorities of others — every time. When we use our calendar to optimum effect, it becomes a powerful tool, creating room for both the activities and priorities in our lives.

3. Master your finances
Financial stress creates chaos in our lives, and leaves us vulnerable to shame and guilt. When we take control of our finances, finding creative ways to live within our means whilst still pursuing our dreams, we can experience satisfaction and peace.

4. Refine your working world
We spend approximately one-third of our lives working. It follows then that our experience at work will either contribute significant satisfaction and fulfilment to our lives — or not. We need to be willing to honestly examine our work life and then make necessary adjustments in our workplace so that we are less restless and more fulfilled.

5. Make room for forgiveness
It is inevitable that we will be wronged, and that we, in turn, will wrong others. Some will be minor offenses, and others may be legitimate wounds. Still others may be significantly life changing. Although forgiveness may not be easy or come quickly, when it does take place, our wounds can heal and we are made whole.

6. Conquer your fears
If we are honest with ourselves, we can usually identify one or more pockets of fear in our inner world. Sometimes fear is a good thing; it serves as a warning and should be heeded. At other times, it holds us back from achieving our goals and realising our dreams. When we conquer our fears, we say goodbye to anxiety and can experience the peace that surpasses all understanding.

7. Deepen your relational circles
Our relationships with others can impact our lives either positively or negatively. It is our responsibility to evaluate and expand or prune (as the case may be) our relational world. When we invest time and energy in our relationships, we are no longer isolated but connected and our lives are enriched

8. Claim God’s call on your life
When we embrace what we know we were created to do, we become more focused and are less likely to drift through life. We live a life of purpose driven by a passion that stirs from deep within us.

9. Welcome new seasons in your life
Our lives are not static but ebb and flow with the changing seasons. You may be the mother of young children or a seasoned entrepreneur; you may have recently experienced a loss in your family or waved goodbye to your teenager entering her first year of university. Whatever season we find ourselves in, it is good to remember that while a season may last a week, a month or years, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’, easy or difficult, it is only temporary. It comes to an end. And when it does, another beckons. When we welcome a new season in our lives, we are able to move on and avoid getting ‘stuck in a rut’.

10. Cultivate a legacy
When we say ‘yes’ to what matters, our lives have meaning and we are satisfied. And more than this, we leave a lasting legacy. In the now famous words of Maximus Decimus Meridus in the movie Gladiator: “What we do in life, echoes in eternity”.

Simplifying one’s life is no easy task. It is an ongoing process. However, I have come to realise that in order for me to impact the chaotic, broken world that surrounds me everywhere I turn, I need to be intentional about cultivating a simple, healthy inner world. It starts with me.

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