As far away as the sun prefers to be, it decided to set a much closer to earth that Sunday evening. Maybe even just for me in that moment. It’s unusually warm for February in Ohio and the golden light compliments just how good it feels. Holly has left her pile of hay in the pasture to come sniff me hello and is now on her way to the paddock where Michael stands leaning against the fence. They share something in silent conversation while the cat intertwines between my legs. I’ll pick him up and hold him like I would a newborn baby until he wants back down again. The dogs are off somewhere, chasing either nothing or each other.
I take a deep breath and once again am reminded of the simple, undeserving life that I have been blessed with.
I’ve been away from the blog for a few weeks as I’ve been trying to figure out some details in my life…like why I can’t manage to focus on one thing at a time instead of fifty, or why I feel like I don’t have time for anything but yet somehow have time to check my social media news-feeds. So the overwhelming self-detriment has consumed my thoughts enough to make me feel like I have nothing to offer right now…nothing new, exciting, or original to share for anyone. I managed to reflect on this for an extended amount of time, decided that it was derived out of selfishness, and put my thoughts into words.
Am I the only one who yearns to live simply?
When I think of a simplistic lifestyle, the first word that comes to my mind is minimalism. Few possessions, little debt (if any), and a larger emphasis on quality over quantity. I mean…I don’t really need 15 pairs of shoes just waiting to be worn in the closet. What I really need is a smaller, sturdy selection that will walk longer miles with me. And when I yearn for, “the simple life,” I imagine a peaceful summer day watering the garden, brushing down the horses, and settling down in the hammock for my daily hour of reading and journaling. I lie to myself, though, when I think of this as the simple life I’ve been craving. The truth is, lately my heart has yearned for, “the easy life”- the one with minimal heartache, minimal financial stresses and minimal pain. I know better than to think this is achievable, but sometimes I just need reminded of the things I already know as my forward-thinking and past-holding mindset overrules me almost daily. I frequently need reminded of the simple truth about finding simplicity in my life: peace.
It’s easy to find it when your life is sailing along smoothly, but where does peace go when the waves come crashing down? I like to tell myself that I’ll keep it in my pocket and save it for the rainy days. Next thing you know I’m staring at fifteen piles of dirty laundry on the floor trying to remember exactly which pair of jeans I was wearing when I said that. I’ve recognized that there’s a large part of me that instinctively convinces myself it’s that smooth-sailing ship that I need to get back on- or that I just need to keep treading the water for the one that’s ahead of me…I’ll settle for any kind of smooth-sailing ship some days.
I started thinking about the common denominator in all my circumstances.
It’s me. It’s, “self.”
Instead of wishing for the hardships in my life to get easier, to change or to simply disappear- I have to remind myself to instead pray for strength to endure them, for patience to wait for the Lord, and for humility to get me off my high-horse. We are guaranteed sufferings- all of us. Maybe it’s time to instinctively pray for our hearts to feel as much intensity with peace as it does with the burdens. When you really start to accept every “bad” thing in your life as much as you do all the good, you will suddenly start appreciating everything that has ever happened, that is happening, or that ever will. No matter what it is. Instead of wishing they wouldn’t exist you’ll start asking, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” or better yet, “How can I use this to help others?” Not only will you find the peace you are (knowingly or unknowingly) looking for, but you will also find yourself being the person you have always wanted to be: forgiving, accepting, caring, loving, empathetic, proactive, serving, and selfless. Putting my eternal lenses on has helped me realize more each day that these hardships aren’t about me (and truthfully, neither are the rewards). The moment I start to reflect in the, “Why me?” train of thought, I just as soon realize the selfishness that comes with thinking that way.
I can contribute this simple yet profound realization to the like-minded people surrounding me and worshiping with me, the ongoing support of my husband, and that particular Sunday evening on the farm with our animals. Is there truth in believing that God created these companion animals to portray a genuine, tangible picture of selflessness? One that cannot be compared to what we offer as humans? Their genuine nature has formed me into the “animal person,” I am today. How blessed are we to be given this farm and to give them a home with us?! It’s a very simple, overlooked thought but I see it clearly when I slow down enough to take it all in. There’s a wonderful feeling of serenity when I find myself perfectly okay with getting my white shirt dirty after brushing off the horse or playing fetch with muddy dogs and manicured nails. I imagine that is what “home” feels like for a lot of people in their own ways.
So go home today, read your Bible, pray and ask for humility, love your family, hug your dog and take a deep breath. All in that order. The simple blessings in your life should be profound enough to make you inhale a little peace and exhale a lot of your worries.
The simple life is found in your blessings.