“And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,” (1 Thessalonians 4:11, ESV)
A few days ago, I shared how I had taken a recent trip to Haiti. One day on this trip, we drove up and into the mountains.
From where we were staying, it was an hour long ride. Neither was it a pleasant experience riding on the bumpy gravel roads. It seemed like the drive went on and on. We so eagerly anticipated being done with drive and for the bouncing to end.
But we continued to drive and drive. There was no sign of civilization except for a random person here and there walking down the mountain. The question had to be asked. From where did they come? How far did they walk? How long would it take them to walk down the mountain?
The answer was that these people came from a village deep in the mountain. They had walked for many miles, and it might take all day to finish their journey. Life is different there. It is much simpler. If all that person was to do on this day was to walk down the mountain, then that is all they do on that day.
As Americans, we could not grasp spending the whole day walking down the mountain. We had so much to do. We were focused on efficiency. We used a car to get where we were going as quick as possible. It would still take us an hour. We would make our visit. Then drive back down the mountain passing the same person we passed on the way up. We grab our lunch. After lunch, we were off to our afternoon activities. There was so much we had to get done. We didn’t have the time to spend the day walking down the mountain.
It is a different mindset. One of the Haitian Nationals that we work with once told me, “You’ve got the watch, and I’ve got the time.” We don’t have time, because of the busy and complicated lives we live.
Sometimes we might desire a simpler life. We complain about how much we have to do. But here is a truth: You agreed to do everything you are now doing. You put everything that is on your calendar on your calendar. You put everything on your to-do list on your to-do list. You agreed to it all. At some point in time, you said yes.
No one is forcing you right now to say yes to everything you have said yes to. Your life does not need to be as complicated as you have made it be. You may need to make some difficult choices. But you can live a simpler life.
We have all these tools and technologies that are designed to simplify our lives. But instead of using the tools to more effectively get our work done so that we can enjoy the other parts of life, we use these tools to work more. A car enables us to travel more places, so we add more to our agenda. A cell phone allows us to check email more often, so we send more messages. Just because we can do more things, does not mean we should do more things. The tools to simplify our lives become tools to complicate our lives.
Consider the words from 1 Thessalonians 4:11. Aspire to live a quiet life. What does that mean to you? Instead of doing it all, how can you simplify to do what is important?
- How have you unnecessarily complicated your life? What are the things you can let go of?
- What tools intended to simplify your life have complicated your life?
- What do you think it means to live a quiet life?