Note: This is a guest post from Lisa Avellan of Simple and Soul.
Is it ever too late to simplify your life?
Technically, no. You should start today.
But practically speaking, there will come a time in all of our lives when we stare into the eye of a storm with one hand holding down the fort and the other distracted by the insignificant clutter and demanding tasks because we’ve put off simplifying one day too long.
It’s that moment when suddenly the world stops you in your tracks and reminds you how little you control. The world hasn’t stopped though and now you have to manage a crisis while managing the consequences of overconsumption, overwhelmed homes and calendars, and the important buried under the immediate and you realize you’re spread too thin.
When the Simple Life Matters Most
Until recently I believed simplifying my life by owning (and wanting) less and being intentional with my priorities was the purpose of my new minimalist lifestyle—that the immediate benefits of less distraction and more margin for what I truly love was the sole purpose.
That was until our family was halted by an all too common storm: cancer. Again. The eye of this storm has fixed itself in our lives indefinitely while permanently burning a hole through normal and routine and safe. It is changing the pattern of life, forever.
When the winds are fierce and the howl is deafening and the rains drench deep to the soul, where fear devastates our happy go lucky existence, simple becomes our breath. Simple is our heartbeat.
Because in the face of cancer there is no margin for distraction or comparison or retail therapy—there is only breath and heartbeat. Life yesterday was normal and today it’s threatened. The lens of life, unaided by fancy electronic gadgets and fashion forward wardrobes, now focuses on the absolutes: Love. Family. Health. Hope.
More Does Not Equal Prepared
When we travel with our young daughters, I am often preoccupied with preparing their carry-on bags with enough snacks and activities to keep them distracted, quiet, and manageable for the duration of the flight. I brainstorm every possible need they may have to ensure I can provide something to appease their fickle desires and inevitably I overwhelm everyone with the overstuffed luggage.
I prepare with the mentality that more will fix everything.
Our lives are full of messages that what we need is more. More money, more clothes, more stamps in our passports, larger homes, more toys…the list goes on. Yet, the message of more hasn’t fulfilled its promise.
More does not equal prepared, but it can equal distracted and overwhelmed and fragile. Buried underneath the weight of debt or clutter or busyness we sacrifice our readiness to take on life’s most ominous forecasts.
A prepared life is unrestricted by possessions and activity. It’s free from the unnecessary for the purpose of intentional readiness.
Simple living is more than creating space and joy in your life; it’s also preparation for life’s inevitable storms that require our full attention. It’s removing the side show of distractions and unnecessary fluff which steals our ability to handle the important and necessary with clarity.
The More of Simplicity
Cancer diagnoses, devastating earthquakes in developing counties, or wildfires and hurricanes are not so subtle reminders that he with the most toys does not win. Our physical possessions are quickly discarded when disaster strikes.
Staring in the face of eternity we know soul deep that our hope is not found in our stuff.
The simple life cultivates hope; it prepares us to see and feel limitless hope. It shows up when doctor appointments don’t have to compete with unfulfilling activities on the calendar. Hope shines when a debt-free lifestyle softens the blow of the pending hospital bills. Hope floats as family and friends rally around not in pity but in support and love because of the relationships nurtured with intention.
The more of simplicity is hope!
And hope is mighty powerful in the face of the unknown. Hope is contagious and abundant when we value a life of simple joys, purposeful community, and authenticity.
Better Late Than Never
It’s never too late for hope. And hope is brewing even in the darkest storm. The storm—the frightening diagnosis or the middle of the night phone call or the bad day on the stock exchange—it may be the warning siren to summon us into a simple life, offering us the opportunity to adjust our focus as we ride out the storm.
The simple life presents us with purpose and resolve and we no longer have to gather up our wits and fight with our reserves. We can fight with everything within and be present in the moment—to give ourselves fully to the storm and let go of the insignificant for the sake of the most important.
Maybe it’s never too late to simplify, but one thing I am more sure of now is that the simple life is more than owning less and less to do.
It’s also putting what’s most important first and crafting a life of margin in preparation for the unknown and inevitable complications of this broken world.
Don’t wait till the storm makes landfall. Simplify now and weather it out with hope and clarity and peace.