I’ve lived on both sides of the fence, so I have a right to straddle it without condemnation. I’m talking about the fence that divides living simply and simply living.
Two blogs that I enjoy reading are, The Old Oak Swing and Joyful Noise. I suggest you take a look at these if you have not already. I love to go there and relax. These women and their families live simply. By that I mean they grow much of their food, have chickens and fresh eggs, don’t own a microwave, cook all their food from scratch, use their skills and talents to make handmade gifts, etc. Old fashioned you might say. Women after my own heart.
That’s how I grew up. I lived on ranches, never knew what a microwave was, seldom had a telephone, and TV was no big deal. Sometimes we had one and sometimes we didn’t. I didn’t need video games for entertainment—I knew how to use my imagination. (I really wanted to be a horse when I grew up.)
I know about chickens—from hatchling to fryers and laying hens. I know how to grow my veggies in a garden and preserve them for winter’s use. Homemade jellies and jams I’ve done. I know how to milk a cow (though I’m not very good at it), then strain straw and flies out of the beautiful white liquid, skim the cream, and make butter. Been there done that.
I could go on and on, but basically I’ve lived, as some say, simply.
I’ve also been on the hamster wheel of life, running my little self silly, and getting nowhere as I tried to acquire, achieve, accomplish… I’ve worked six part-time jobs at once all while homeschooling my kids. I’ve been in complicated circumstances where most of the time I felt as if I was only surviving, just making it to the next day—simply living.
A few days ago, after reading one of these beautiful blogs, I had a little chat with the Lord. I confessed to Him that I sometimes envy the authors. I often miss the simple things of life. I didn’t want to be living in sin, so I inquired of the Lord to see if my envy was a sin.
Here is how He answered me. (Forgive me if I make God sound a little too common or somehow less holy than He is. That’s not my intent. But He speaks to my heart in a way that I can understand—middle class average intelligence English.)
God: What’s so simple about raising chickens? There are trips to the feed store for their food. You have to water them every day, and in the winter that’s easier said than done. You’ve got to clean out the nests, gather the eggs. There’s almost always some poop to be washed off the eggs before putting them away. And speaking of chicken poop, don’t forget the cleaning of the shoes after your daily trip into the henhouse.
God: When you want eggs or chicken, all you have to do is go to the store, pick them up, and come home. No poop washing or scraping, no feather plucking. Which is simpler for you?
Me: Okay, well—
God: Gardening is great, but is it really simple? There’s the tilling and the planting and the watering and the weeding and the picking and the preserving. I’ve placed you where you are in this season of your life and all you have to do is open a can—green beans are yours. How simple is that?
Me: Yeah but--
God: And as far as baking a cake from scratch. I know you and how prideful you can be about your cooking and baking abilities. It is not as easy for pride to come between us when all you do is open a tiny little bag of dry mix, add a little bit of water then microwave it all for a minute and fifteen seconds. And right now do you need a cake that serves more than two people?
God: It's not simplicity you long for. It’s contentment.
God: You like the sense of accomplishment you get from doing things the less convenient way. You want to satisfy yourself with hard work and produce from your own hands. You long for the peaceful feeling you get when you think you are living a simple life. All this is not bad, but that’s not where I’ve placed you right now. Look around you. You are living simply—and simply living.
God: Everything you want or need you can find in Me, not in a garden or a chicken coop. Not even on a hamster's wheel.
So, I’m riding the fence, trying not to get splinters in my behind, and choosing to be content with everything I have in the place God has me.
Philippians 4:11-13 “…I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
(But I still think it might be cool to be a horse!)