You might say it every year, or this may be the first year you’ve realized things are getting out of hand. A busy schedule and cluttered life are getting in the way, and it’s time to do something about it. If you’re feeling weighed down, dump some of your stress. This year, make it your goal to scale back. Replace your hectic agenda and worries with simplicity. But how do you even begin?
Simplicity Is Stepping Back
When things start to pile up and you’re feeling stressed, what do you do? Do you work all hours of the night to catch up, frosting 50 cupcakes for the school bake sale while also writing thank you notes for the gifts you got last month? Getting things off your list can feel good in the end—but if you’re working so hard to get it done, is that little check mark worth it?
If your mind is on a dozen other things, how can you truly devote time to living His Word? We must focus on the things that matter, rather than allowing distraction to lead us astray. Are you missing out on time with family and friends, or letting work seep into your free time? Even worse, is your busy schedule distracting you from God?
Don’t get caught up in the ‘to-do’s’ on your list. Stop. Take a moment. It’s time to step back and look at what is important. Compare your priorities with His to-do list for you. How do they match up?
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Simplicity Is Knowing When to Say Yes
We have much to learn from Mary, mother of Jesus, who fully submitted herself to God’s will. Life in Mary’s time wasn’t easy, but she put His call before any of her own desires. When she was approached with the message that God’s will was for her to become pregnant, Mary didn’t question His plan. She trusted Him and simply said ‘yes.’ Her faith didn’t mean she wouldn’t suffer hardships or have to navigate complications in her life—but she knew her path was guided by God Himself. Mary’s faith was returned with the privilege of birthing Jesus into this world.
He has a plan for you, too. Are you listening?
It’s not all about saying ‘no’—you also need to know when to say ‘yes.’ Approach God in prayer and ask Him to lead you. God will show you what He needs from you. Before you fill your calendar, ask where He may need you to leave a little space open for Him.
Pay attention to the relationships you work to sustain. If nights out with acquaintances are too much work with too little gain, think again before saying yes. But, hold on to your Christian community—they’re there to help lift you up. We are reminded of this in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Prioritize those mutually beneficial relationships with those who encourage you in His service, and watch how you all flourish.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Find Simplicity in Your Routine
Rather than complaining about how stressful your life is, give it to Him. Spend your commute talking to Him rather than listening to the radio. Savor the solitude of quiet time with God. Take refuge in daily prayer or Bible journaling sessions. Where do you place the most value? Look at where you are over-extending yourself. Do you know your limit? God does. Have you asked Him about it lately?
Eat meals together rather than haphazardly devouring food whenever you get a moment. Share the load—work together to cook dinner, clean the kitchen, finish the day’s tasks, and set aside the children’s clothing for the next day. Relax with a cup of tea and a conversation with family. Curl up with a blanket and your favorite devotional to end the day on a positive note. Put yourself, your family, your relationships, and God first. Allow yourself to find peace in your routine. When you do that, everything else will fall into place as He has planned.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
Three Strategies to Simplify Your Life in 2023
1) Slow down. Reschedule a meeting, take your time with a project, take a nap. Or, say no. Don’t allow the hassles of everyday life to get in the way of living how He intends. Ask for God’s guidance when you’re considering taking on a new project or if you need direction.
2) Unplug. Turn off the TV, put down your phone, and take a moment without the busyness of notifications, news announcements, and life in general. Find the simple, easy feeling of quiet. It’s okay to not respond to a text the moment it comes in! Many of us remember a time before social media and cell phones. And, guess what—we survived it.
3) Reconnect. Take your newfound quiet and reconnect with yourself, your family—and most importantly—with Him. Nothing should get in the way of prayer or time spent in His Word. Stop trying to be perfect. Just be you, because He takes us as we are—flaws and all.
How Simplifying Might Look in Your Life:
> Passing up an invitation to a party
> Decluttering your workspace, kitchen counters, or living spaces
> Consolidating your bills so you have fewer payments to make each month
> Listening to worship music while preparing frozen slow-cooker meals
> Starting and ending your day with quiet prayer
> Turning down an overtime project at work
> Allowing yourself to indulge in ‘me time’
None of this will happen overnight, so take small steps to simplify throughout the new year. Make a list, create some goals, and pare down. The Lord doesn’t want you to go through life feeling harried, so give yourself the break you need—and deserve. Ask Him how to bring some simplicity into every day—you’ll feel lighter, happier, and more in tune with your path in His Word.