I’ve been thinking a lot lately about simplifying my life – it seems to be getting more complex. I have been contemplating selling things for money to meet other people’s needs or giving my stuff personally, if I have what they need. I have been happy- even excited to do these things. Recently, however, I’ve realized I’m only really excited when it’s on my own terms. When I plan “to do without” or sacrifice for a purpose, it’s no problem!
The last six months have shown me that I’m not so excited, when it’s not my idea.
In addition to the ups and downs of life, we have had a variety of things “break.”
We were without a home computer for five months. Depending on how much you use the computer that may or may not be a big deal. For us, it has been a big deal.
At work, we were without our printer for over two weeks. Again, in the big picture of life, it is not such a big deal. But in the daily demands of the job, it was challenging not to really be able to complete anything. I got further and further behind as the days passed. I grew more and more stressed as the time for our tour departures approached.
The air conditioning unit in our home went out. Completely. There was no small part to replace. No minor adjustment or repair. The whole unit. Major expense. It’s amazing how quickly we become uncomfortable and inconvenienced with no air conditioning when so many others never have that luxury to begin with.
Our dryer quit working. Completely. As we thought back, we realized we had it over 20 years. It served us well. We had no reason to complain. There are Laundromats. Still, we felt inconvenienced.
I was referred to a dermatologist to take a closer look at some suspicious moles. Before the month was over I had four biopsies, each with scars, slowly healing. Broken skin, but thankfully, no skin cancer.
Our daughter announced an unplanned pregnancy. We are confident that what began with despair will end in delight, but there are still broken pieces along the way. Our other daughter also finds herself “broke” and broken from various choices and circumstances. Though none of it was in our plan, I have learned that none of it takes God by surprise. That is tremendous comfort to me in even the most difficult times.
I understand that so much of what I’ve just mentioned are “first world” problems. We are beyond blessed to have air conditioning, computers, health care, insurance and a multitude of tools and appliances to make our lives easier. We are privileged to have jobs to pay bills and rich to be able to set aside a bit each month to save for something we want or need.
Nevertheless, I still have had moments filled with tears, fears and doubts. When things don’t happen on my terms, it is easy for me to lose sight of the big picture.
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen
I am reminded that my life, my heart, my circumstances will always be cracked; they will always be flawed. I am taking some practical steps to let more of God’s light in to my life. I am understanding that the brokenness I have experienced can be a source of light – the very thing that knits my heart together with others and breathes hope into our circumstances.
I am recognizing how rich I really am and how little the ‘stuff’ contributes to my happiness. I am becoming more willing to do without some things that I used to think I needed. I am certain that the abundant life Jesus talks about has nothing to do with possessions. On the other hand, I’m also learning more about how selfish I really am. How I really do want things done in a way I am comfortable with- on my terms and in my time.
I ask for your patience with me as I write more about this in the coming weeks. I’m learning. I’m a work in progress to be sure. I’m only now in the process of being willing to be uncomfortable. I am almost scared to say it out loud, lest God hear and make me really uncomfortable. See what I mean? Like he doesn’t already know my every thought and the motives of my heart.
In these last six months much has seemed broken. In these next six months I will be looking for the Light to shine through. Maybe you’d like to join me in doing the same in your own life.