I think that I’m simple. In fact, I think that I was raised to be simple. By saying that, I mean to say that I was raised to appreciate what I have over what I want, to be gracious in my circumstances, to take pride in living debt free, yada yada: Simple. I wonder when that word became so condemning. If I had to guess, I would say that it happened somewhere in between jungle gym sets and salary comparisons.
Either way – since I can remember, the only labels I have gotten excited over are found in the grocery store (Kraft over Kroger, please!); I don’t know the first thing about this season versus last season’s fashions. And quite frankly, I don’t really care. I get excited over coupons, sales, good deals, and Target runs.
I think it can be fun to be simple. I find joy in opening my blinds to watch the birds float around in the pond. My day is made when the sun breaks through the clouds or I find myself with a Starbucks coffee in hand. I am elated to find a good book that I can wrap myself up in all day and I like waking up to birds chirping in the morning. But there are other times when being simple makes me feel small. There are times when I’m surrounded by people who let it slip how much this accessory cost or that project showcased, or at which salary this position was accepted, etc. etc. and instead of hearing them, I begin to take a critical look inward at the things in my life. And what I find worse is that some of these conversations take place without the initiator being the wiser – not worse on their behalf, mind you, but worse for me because I stop hearing what they intend to say and I start reading into what they do not know they’ve said, expanding it and making it grotesque. And really, I know that some people are just accustomed to a certain kind of speech. Well, of course, there are those other times too in which I hear intention in these voices and it fills me with spite.
(I have learned that I have the potential to confuse simplicity with a reason to feel ashamed.)
Admittedly, I don’t think there is anything worse than feeling ashamed about something that brings you joy when the day has ended and you have no one else to answer to but yourself. It’s doubly difficult because you feel ashamed that you do not have what others do and even worse that you know better than to be bothered but feel so anyway. And it takes on all shapes and sizes: Your first apartment that you’ve fallen in love with and spent hours decorating seems dusty and unimpressive. Your trusted vehicle becomes an eyesore in its parking spot. Your new outfit feels cheap and ugly. That great jewelry find is made of sterling silver, not gold, and people notice.
It’s a painful thing to address no matter what you call it, but now that I’ve admitted it I suppose I can call it by its real name: “Pride.”
I hate being prideful. I don’t know that there is any one thing in me that I hate more than pride but I can tell you that I’m full of it. (Who would ever want to be full of pride??? I would rather be full of…of…of beeswax! Anything but pride.) And I think (I know) that it’s a God-thing, the feeling of internal struggle. I think that I’m supposed to be learning the hard lesson of humility more so than I have in the past. I think that I’m being called to be simple. To be content being simple. To focus my energy outward instead of inward. I have friends who are simple but they seem to be the ones with whom I least frequently interact. I’m drawn to things that feed my pride like moth to a flame. But here’s the real truth, I search for things that will make me feel big when I’m feeling small. And every so often, I indulge. And it does not thrill me to hunt these things down. And it does not bring me joy to bring them home. Rather, they sit in a corner and burn guilt into my head until I muster up the courage to put them to use.
Pray for me! I am on a quest to quell my feelings of smallness. To appreciate the joy in simplicity again. And to stop comparing my lives to the lives around me. It sounds simple, but I’m going to need some divine intervention with this.