Is the simple life a romantic notion or a possibility? For many people it's a distant fantasy or whimsical notion. What do you think? (Tweet or Share this) My wife and I have lived the simple life. It's not a life void of difficulties. It's just simple and uncomplicated, so I know it exists.
If the simple life exists, why does it seem out of grasp for those who long for it? (Tweet or Share this)
Our simple life
This past month we've lived in the southern part of the Central Visayan region of the Philippines. Dumaguete City, on Negros Oriental, was our home for fifteen years. We still feel at home there.
Our life was focused on the work we did and the relationships we developed over those fifteen years. We moved our family over there in 1990. Life was much simpler then. The internet was still new, cell phones were non-existent for the average person, and power outages were common.
Our life was not without difficulties. Daily challenges were present, and not just because we lived in another culture away from our home of origin. But life was simpler than our life in the US.
What complicates life?
What makes the simple life simple? It might be easier to ask, what makes life complicated? (Tweet or Share this)
A simple and typical answer would be things make life more complicated. Work, busyness, possessions, or fill in the blank. But I don't think it's that simple (Sorry, couldn't resist the play on words).
America is without doubt a consumer nation. A nation obsessed with having more things. But is that what makes life complicated? (Tweet or Share this) Are things really the hinderance to having a simple life?
Keep in mind that millions, if not billions, of people would like to have what we do in America. They want the political, social, economic, and religious freedoms and opportunities we enjoy.
Poverty has a way of simplifying life. For the most part, poverty is not a life choice. It's a reality for the majority of people living on this planet. (Tweet or Share this)
Tragedy can also simplify life. As the recent typhoon disaster in the Philippines has shown, tragedy can reduce life to day to day survival.
We've experienced tragedy and observed it. But poverty and tragedy are not prerequisites for the simple life. They just make life more basic. (Tweet or Share this)
Susan and I have long-term relationships with people of varying backgrounds and socio-economic levels. One simple observation is that the absence or presence of things is not the issue for a simple life. (Tweet or Share this) Our friends in the Philippines seem to lead much simpler lives than most of our friends in the US. Why would that be so?
The simple life is a matter of choices, or continuing choices. Perhaps better, it consists of what we value. (Tweet or Share this)
Whatever is of highest value takes precedence in our lives. We choose what's most valuable, whether by default or conscious decision. (Tweet or Share this) Most people know this at some level of awareness.
So, is there a simple life to live? Yes.
A key to the simple life
What's the key to living this simple life? Again, it's tied to whatever we hold most dear. (Tweet or Share this) This is most clearly seen by how we live each day.
The main difference I see between life in the Philippines and the US is the value of relationships over things. (Tweet or Share this) It's not a matter of choosing one or the other. This is a common, simplistic notion, but an incorrect one.
It's choosing one over the other on a consistent basis. Too often this choice is made unconsciously. It's a default mode we get locked into, not a daily decision.
Perhaps a more honest question is– Do you really want to live a simple life, or is it just a fantasy or excuse to cover how you choose to live day by day? (Tweet or Share this)
Many people who have lived outside their home culture (ie: cross-cultural missionaries) find it difficult to live the simple life they've known elsewhere. (Tweet or Share this) It's hard to go against the prevailing tide of the culture that surrounds you. But, it is doable. (Tweet or Share this)
It's a matter of choice. What do you choose? It's up to you... each and every day.
Let me leave you with a few thoughts from Jesus
"What good is it if someone gains the whole world but loses his soul? Or what can anyone trade for his soul? (Matt 16:26 NIRV) (Tweet or Share this)
Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes. Birds of the air have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." (Luke 9:58 NIRV)
Jesus answered, "Here is the most important one. Moses said, 'Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind and with all your strength.' (Deuteronomy 6:4,5) And here is the second one. 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.' (Leviticus 19:18) There is no commandment more important than these." (Mark 12:29-31 NIRV)