By Eric Osborn
Why Embrace A Simpler Life?
There are many reasons why living a simple life is something that people are seeking out. Being a former Boy Scout, my journey began from the Scout motto “Always Be Prepared.” I wanted my family to be prepared if disaster should ever shut down our normal way of life for a time. That meant being ready to have food, water, clothing, shelter and heat/power that was not coming from an outside source.
That’s a challenge in itself. But I soon realized that just preparing for a winter storm, tornado, or earthquake wasn’t the only issue. As I learned how to provide a living for my family without the normal conveniences that come from modern society, I began to notice afresh how corrupt and morally bankrupt our society is becoming. And that made my interest in living a simple life even more imperative.
Choosing A Simpler Lifestyle
I believe there is a case to be made for believers to deliberately choose a simpler lifestyle away from the worst parts of our society. And if you take a hard look, you will realize just how difficult it is to raise a family in our current state. Life in the 1800s wasn’t easy, but it was simpler and, I believe, offered a way to raise children without texting, social media, video games, and other corrupting influences.
Many state governments and the federal government are becoming ever more intrusive. There are too many laws that make being a Christian parent much harder than it needs to be. Living a simpler lifestyle might help counter these influences, which is why, as our society circles the drain, many people are choosing a simpler life.
What Does Living a Simple Life Mean?
In Joshua Becker’s excellent book, Inside-Out Simplicity, he defines simplicity as “… clarity, purpose and intentionality. It is marked by the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It is a life lived in unity …. [it is] freedom from the passion to possess.” The simple life then, is not merely a Spartan home with bare walls and no modern conveniences. It is a life focused on our values and our practices and daily life is intentionally chosen to pursue those values.
It is the “removal of everything that distracts” that most people dread. Our society rests solidly upon materialism and the crazy values promoted by Madison Avenue and the Media. We are all its victims (and often all too willing) to one extent or another. When embracing simplicity we rid ourselves of distractions so that we can succeed in living out our values instead of being diluted and ineffectual. It isn’t deprivation, it’s streamlining so that we can win the prize.
How To Live a Simple Life
To embrace simplicity:
- Define your values. What do you most want to accomplish in your life? What are the most important things in your life? Write them down and ponder them carefully. You might even want to rank them in order of importance.
- Decide that you don’t have to live like everybody else (and they don’t have to live like you). What a simpler life will “look like” for one person may not look at all like a simpler life does for someone else. It depends on where you are coming from and what your values are. Don’t get legalistic.
- Live intentionally. Stay focused on living out your values and let that pursuit guide you in how to live out each day. Don’t go through each day by default, letting the day and its cares dictate what you do.
- Live in the present. Don’t get too carried away with sentimentality over the past nor fear of the future. Stay on track and give thanks. A thankful heart helps us to keep our balance and be generous.
- Be content. This is really the lifeblood of simplicity. Be content with what you have. Reject consumerism and materialism. Don’t indulge in “shopping therapy.” Be grateful for what God has entrusted to you and help others instead of amassing things. As the old proverb says, “Love people, use things.” Not the other way around …
A Simpler Life Is Worth It
Making the change to living a simple life isn’t a quick process. It isn’t rocket science either. But it is worth it.
Eric Osborn is a theologically trained fifth grade teacher at a small Christian school in northern California. His wife, Amy, and their four children, Jimmy, Jeremy, Jason and Christa, are active in their church, hockey league, and county politics. Eric loves to learn about history, astronomy, and spiritual things and has been involved in serving others for over thirty years.
Note: You can find this article in its entirety in the March/April 2014 issue of Molly Green Magazine.