Simplify Your Life

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Society has created technology to make us believe that life can be simpler.  If I purchase an iphone, ipod, ipad, ibook  . . . ican . . . do this life . . . and ican do it well.

I can skype with my family in Italy, facebook my friends in Canada, text message my neighbor about his dog without even leaving my front yard, start my car from across town, fill my calendar with the push of a button, tell a computer on my car where I want to go, and read a book that’s on my Kindle.  I can use all of these things to make my life easier…simpler.

But guess what….it’s not working.  It’s actually just the opposite.  The more that I have to make my life simpler…the more complicated it gets.

Today’s world is missing one important thing . . . margin.  There’s no room for anything.  When we’re so busy, we reach our limits.  Guess what happens when we reach our limits?  We’re not our best . . . actually . . . we’re headed towards our less than best selves.

When we reach the limits of our resources and abilities, we have no margin left.  We don’t even know today what “margin” means or looks like, so we don’t realize it is gone.  We know something isn’t right, but don’t know how to identify it.

Webster’s dictionary states that the word margin means the edge of something, especially the outer edge, or the area close to it.  We get to the edge really fast…because we’ve eliminated any room for margin, and margin is the place right before the edge.

Once we get to the edge, we are vulnerable.  Sin enters.  Poor choices are made.  Little thinking is involved and judgment is not at its best.  We are in trouble when we’re next to the edge.  That’s why we need margin …the space between the almost falling off the side, and whirling down into the abyss of a frenzied life.  No, technology isn’t simplifying anything…it’s making it more complicated.

A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with my daughter, Alexis and my childhood friend, Brenda Jo. We met at a lovely Panera.  I was excited.  Where I live, in the middle of nowhere, Panera is something I see in my dreams. I sat down and sipped my ice tea ever so slowly, breathed in the sights and smells of human beings and looked at my child and friend. 

Alexis sat with her iphone, balancing her checkbook, nodding ever so often, while Brenda Jo worked on answering phone calls on her iphone, emailing out messages on her computer and nodding to me as I spoke. As I looked around, I saw a man on his computer across from a woman listening to her ipod.  Next to me was a young teenager with her mother…the mother was texting.

I became impatient.  And I remembered something….we are no longer present with…those we are present with.  

I said “Here’s what I’m thinking….”  They both nodded… “I’m thinking I’ll go out and call you and then you’ll hear what I’m saying.”  They burst into fits of laughter….but it was truth.

We don’t know how to relate to one another, unless we’re doing it remotely.  We don’t know how to connect and deepen relationships, because good-grief, who has time for that?  And we certainly don’t have time to take care of ourselves…once we’ve worked all day, fed the family, washed dishes, thrown in some laundry and tried to get ready to take the kids to all of their perspective events, there is no more room… and no sleek phone with apps can help you.

What happens when we get past the margin to the edge?  I told you….trouble.  And you know what goes with that trouble?  Baggage.  Suitcases.  Trunks full of suitcases.  We carry our baggage.

This morning when you got up and you grabbed your purse and your car keys, you didn’t even see them anymore, because your bags that you have packed and carry every day, are filled with things like:  loneliness, frustration, regrets, disappointments, anger, resentment and worry.

Alexis told me as a young working mom, she carries the baggage of resentment, jealousy and fatigue.  Brenda Jo said she wasn’t resentful or mad, she just carried bags of anxiety for wondering how she could get everything done. And she carried bags of frustration that she couldn’t do it all.  She said, “I’m too busy to feel depressed about it.”

Too busy?  Overwhelmed?  No room for margin?  It’s time to really simplify your life.  It’s time to look at what’s happening and unpack the bags.  Find room for places to breathe. Prioritize.  Maybe you don’t need to do it all.  Perhaps you really can’t.  Find times to relax and do the hobbies that long ago you set down.  Easy to say?  Maybe.  Easy to do?  Not so much.  But you need to….or you’ll find yourself in a very vulnerable place and that’s where sin enters.

Maybe today . . . you’re carrying your baggage . . . and you don’t want to . . . you want to simplify . . . travel a little lighter today . . . make room for yourself . . . for God . . . and make the time to Simplify!

****to hear more encouragement about Simplifying Your Life, sign up for our Bethel University Conference in St. Paul on April 9th.