A challenge I wrestling with is the battle of my mind (which is the place most battles are won or lost!) as I seek to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. To see God’s goodness around and surrounding me each day is a daily discipline but one that has impacted me deeply, often seeing those precious moments like diamonds in the dust which ordinarily I would have missed.
This gratitude attitude has also helped me embrace another spiritual discipline that of simplicity. To live simply, to seek to be contented with what I have and to opt out of the world’s view that the accumulation of more and more stuff is where fulfilment lies (which it doesn’t!). Instead it comes from the profound realisation that life is gift that is to be enjoyed, celebrated and savoured rather than consumed greedily.
As we opt for a simpler life we discover that we are also living a more sustainable life as we in the affluent west devour much more than our fair share of the world’s resources. The more of us who choose to live simply can enable other to simply live.
So often we live our lives at such a rushed manic speed we miss most of what is happening around us, but when we choose an attitude of gratitude and embrace living simply we are deliberately slowing down and having a greater awareness of all that is around us.
When we live simply we learn to declutter our lives by having less but paradoxically enjoying it more. As our lives become less about extravagant consumption we are forced to reassess our priorities and values discovering afresh what really matters (and what is mere distractions!). As we simplify our lives closing down much of the ambient distractions we become more free to hear both God and our neighbour. In simplicity we discover the space and freedom to pursue peace and discover joy. Living lives that are cluttered with the stress and complexities of life is literally killing people, the 21st century dream is being revealed as a nightmare and if the Church can embody the truth that another life is possible that is an exciting witness to the world.
More-over livingally different lives which are better for us and our mental health and family welfare, it is actually living our lives as God intended us to. Jesus says “look at the lilies they neither sow nor reap but your heavenly father clothes them…so do not worry about what you will eat or wear…” John the Baptist says “if someone has two coats give one away” -we need a lot less than we think! Indeed, when we wrap ourselves in the comfort of possessions and material security we fall (back) in love with the world and the things of this world (friendship with the world is enmity towards God) and we insulate ourselves from our need of God or other people and it becomes harder to hear God’s voice.
So, a challenge for us all is to learn to simplify our lives re-priorities our lives around our necessities not our luxuries (indeed, when we fast from our luxuries we enjoy them all the more when we have them -the law of delayed gratification!). Let us live in a radical and counter cultural way, the way we were supposed to live in the first place, the way God intended us to, the way the world is longing to see embodied and lived out to prove that life does not have to be lived the way the world tells us it had to be lived.