For the past few weeks I have been asking God what He wants me to concentrate on in my personal life and growth. In many ways I feel like I spent the first 36 years of life learning the basics; and I am just now getting to the "real" lessons. Enough wasting time. I want to start learning the important things that will really make a difference to my soul, my family, my friends, my church, my community.
I tend to complicate things. I can be all about the idea of something. If you give me a project I'm happy to color-code it, chart it, get a new notebook for it, collect colored pens and paperclips to track it and get everything all lined up.
Sometimes, I'm not so good with the follow-up.
Several years ago, before we came to Europe, I read an article about "quiet-times." The woman who wrote it set aside 1 hour every day, and she had all sorts of valuable ideas of what to do in that hour. So I found a 3-ring binder, I printed up prayer lists and Bible verses, put in dividers and all sorts of snazzy things. For awhile, I actually used it, and managed to spend the hour most days.
But the whole "system" became too much for me. It began to overwhelm me. If I felt at all like I couldn't do the whole hour, it became easier to just skip the whole devotions thing.
This is a pattern in my life; not just a one-time thing. Recently, I was working on some personal development issues. I asked a friend to give me some feedback in specific areas. One of her comments was this: " I think you often set high goals or too many goals that make perseverance nearly impossible for anyone, when you would probably be much more successful if you kept them smaller or sharper focused, really working to stay consistent and persevere on some realistic goals instead of trying to change your whole world at once."
It makes sense to me that God is asking me to simplify. For the next six months, we are basically in transition and in limbo at the same time. Although we will continue to live in the suburbs, our ministry will be in the city. That is going to be hard because we're going to be pulled in two directions. School and kids and home are going to be going the opposite direction of ministry. And my heart is already anxious to make the move.
I could make the next six months a lot harder on myself by making it too complicated. So I am deliberately going to seek simplicity. I'm going to leave the 3-ring binder wherever it is (yes, I still have it and still feel like I should use it sometimes.) Instead, I will take my Bible, maybe a notebook and only ONE color pen, and sit with Jesus and talk to Him and just work on getting to know Him more.
During these next six months, I will throw things away, weed through my possessions and ask God to help me not buy a single thing I don't really need. I will learn to sift through my tasks and find the ones that count. I will spend more time snuggling with my children, laughing with them, helping them learn about life. I will hold my husband's hand more. I will spend time with people I love, and also with people I don't, but need to. I will ask God to keep my greed in many areas in check.
I will not make New Year's resolutions. I will not make any charts to track the progress of anything. I will not buy any new pens until the ones I have run out of ink.
Simplicity. It's out there somewhere.