Simplify

When I was in school, this word meant reducing a math problem to its lowest terms. Knowing how to simplify fractions helped me pass seventh grade and kept me on the honor roll for another year.

Many years later that word carries much more weight. In fact it can conjure up a variety of images depending on your personal circumstances. Perhaps you envision a stark white room with minimalist decor, a user-friendly monthly budget, or an organized system for your kids’ socks and shoes (where do they all come from?). A basic definition for simplify is:

to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier:

Simplicity and ease are marketed to us on a regular basis. Ever heard of the Staples “Easy” button? Channels like QVC share item after item designed for a more organized life even down to simpler bracelet clasps and robotic vacuums. Our culture runs after easy.

Does a time come for a follower of Jesus, though, when simplifying is not only nice for a more organized home and peaceful schedule, but necessary for the survival and health of a family? Is is vital to strive for simplicity because it’s essential to an abundant spiritual life? 

I have written before about the idol of busyness that so easily creeps into my life. I say “yes” to more responsibility not because I feel called, but because I feel conspicuous if I say “no.” I want to blend into the willing, hard-working Christian culture around me. The past year has revealed to me that all too often, I add more to my plate because I have convinced myself that I am the savior of my family, marriage, and ministry. Thinking that I am more invaluable than Christ himself inevitably spells trouble.

A few weeks ago, I was struggling with anxiety and emotional burnout from all the people and responsibilities that “needed” me. I shared with Adam that I just had to take something off of my plate, but I didn’t know what to address first! He lovingly pointed out that I do regularly take things off my to-do list to compensate for my exhaustion, however those things are often the hidden things of my life – the things that don’t affect my busy, booked-up image. For example, if given the choice between saying “no” to teaching a class at church or cutting back on our homeschool work, I would most likely choose the behind-the-scenes responsibility of school with the kids. It’s much easier for me to put my marriage, children, and ultimately my relationship with Christ on the backburner than to have an awkward conversation to turn down a public responsibility.

Ultimately, this issue stems from a misunderstanding of what God values in his followers.

Does God appreciate hard, faithful work? Yes.

Can a believer reflect the gospel through acts of love to the community around her? Yes!

Do we move higher up the spiritual ladder as the number of tasks on our lists increases? We know the answer is “no,” but Satan deceives us otherwise.

Jesus himself was very active during his years of ministry. He seemed to have a never ending line of those wanting healing, love, and attention. However, Jesus never experienced burnout or meltdown because he realized that the private, unseen areas of His life were essential to his public ministry. His habits of prayer with His Father, physical rest when he was weary, and fellowship with his disciples gave him a proper balance in service.

Those hidden habits are even more crucial for us as broken, sinful, selfish human beings.

There is another side to the simplicity coin, however. Scripture makes it clear that our hearts can make idols out of literally anything – even a simple life.

During His ministry, Jesus warned that life is filled with trouble and trial. Often our best laid plans are destroyed by an unexpected diagnosis or a needy visitor. Life’s circumstances are messy and hard. Because of this, it’s important that I don’t say “no” to potential ministry opportunities just because I want to keep my life simple and stress-free. As a follower of Jesus, I have been called to lay down my life for the gospel and to bring Him glory through the actions of each day. This could potentially mean that my homeschool schedule is interrupted because of a church need. It could also mean that a church need is unmet (by me) and I spend extra time with my children. Each responsibility should be filtered through the Holy Spirit’s calling for that day.

I pray that 2019 will bring more maturity in this area of busyness and over-commitment. I pray that I will not buy into Satan’s lies that I am the rescuer of my circumstances, and instead rest more and more heavily on the ability of my Rescuer to weave a life used for His glory.

Simply put, Jesus is the Savior, not me!

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Dear readers, 

In the spirit of simplifying, there will be a few transitions happening with my online spaces over the next few weeks. Many of you realize that I have been writing on a couple of different websites for over nine years now! I have been able to consolidate all of the posts from Dishes & Doctrine and A Steady Rain (minus a few hundred that were edited out) on one site: www.rachelpereira.me 

You will find a “Subscribe” button at the top left of the page above “Home.” In order to receive notifications of new posts, you will need to add your email there. 

As far as social media, I will primarily be using Instagram to share glimpses of our life and gospel centered resources for you and your children. I would love to connect there.

I have closed down my writing Facebook page to simplify my online responsibilities there as well.

I have not made a final decision on the Dishes & Doctrine audio blog. All of those episodes are still available on iTunes for you.

Thank you for your support and understanding over the years. I have been able to step away once again from the part time church work I was doing for about half of the year. This has given me a little mental space to brainstorm about some upcoming posts and projects.

Rest in Him today, friends!