Simplifying life is simple, not easy

By Jennifer Davis Rash
Managing Editor, The Alabama Baptist

Slacks and skirts flow freely now. Shirts and jackets have plenty of elbowroom. Dresses and jeans alike can be snatched at a moment’s notice, ready to wear, no scurrying around to deal with wrinkles or missing accessories.

Why would I want to tell you about my newfound love for a simplified closet, you ask?

I admit it is a stretch, but my closet has given me the perfect visual for what I seek in so many areas of life — purposeful, prepared and paced. It is organized and balanced for all that is needed but focused and simplified to avoid chaos and wasted time.

We’ve been talking about balance as well as various areas of health and fitness the past few months, and they are proving to all work together in success and defeat.

Dealing with clutter

Another piece of the puzzle deals with clutter. It could be physical clutter (like what was in my closet prior to my recent redesign project). It could be calendar clutter (overscheduling ourselves). It could be mental and emotional clutter (too many unresolved or burdening issues). And it could be all of these at the same time.

When you pull back and look at the various parts of your life, can you find clutter anywhere? How does it make you feel? Is it slowing down your productivity, your ability to focus, your motivation?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed, as if you are in a pit, as if you are suffocating or sinking lower and lower with no chance of ever finding the surface again? Do you sometimes find yourself just wanting to run?

Granted, we all have moments like this and that is just part of life, but if these occasional moments turn into daily living, then it might be time to pull back and reassess.

Please know what I’m describing here deals with preventing and/or resolving a chaotic, overwhelmed, exhausted lifestyle through simplification and balance. If you have serious mental or emotional health issues, then I suggest seeking the help of a trained counselor. And Pathways Professional Counseling would be a good place to start (www.pathwaysprofessional.org). This is a ministry of the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries.

But if your struggles can be tempered by a few lifestyle changes, then I’d like to suggest the concept of simplification. I’m trying to learn this concept myself and am seeking tips.

God tells us clearly that we are to “seek ye first the kingdom of God” in Matthew 6:33 and to “be still” in Psalm 46:10. But how can we seek Him before anything else and expect to hear Him at all if we are too overwhelmed and exhausted to even think clearly? And if we aren’t listening to God or immersing ourselves in His Word, then what good does all the stress and chaos do anyway?

And while actually pulling back to simplify and declutter life is hard enough on its own, the frustrating part for me is that it’s not a one-time event. We have to stay on top of clutter in our lives, or it will eventually creep back in.

Think about the junk drawer in your kitchen. It’s so easy to toss junk mail and random items that float by in that drawer until you decide what to do with them. If you don’t clean the drawer out often, then before you know it, it is stuffed full of clutter. But if you clean it out often, then you can keep the junk from piling up.

During the next few weeks, we will deal with simplifying concepts in all areas of life as well as publish your thoughts and suggestions on this topic. Be sure to send those to jrash@thealabamabaptist.org or comment here.

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