Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Thessalonian Simple Life

I ran across an interesting Bible verse this past weekend. "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of others and so that you will not be dependent on anybody ." (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, NIV).

Ok, the Thessalonians lived in like 50 AD. What could possibly make their lives complicated? No internet to surf, no phones to answer, no Facebook friends to stalk, no cars to break down, and no health insurance to figure out. Maybe their lives were as complicated as ours, just differently? Anyway, the principle still applies 2000 years later.

How does living a quiet life win the respect of others? I can see how people will respect others who aren't all up in their business and work to earn what they have, but living a quiet life? Is living a quiet life similar to living a simple life?

I believe most people in the world would like to lead a more simple, quiet life, but tend to cling to the things that make their lives more complicated. My life gets too complicated when I have too much stuff, too many things in my schedules, too many friends to balance, too many gadgets & websites to check and too many tasks I think I must complete. Basically, too many heeded calls from unessential sources lead to a "noisy", complicated life.

I do envy people who can simply ignore the calls from unessential parts of life. I have a friend who owns no iPod, no mp3 player and no CDs; he is perfectly happy with listening to the radio and whatever song happens to be playing at that moment. I asked him, "What if you really want to hear a particular song?" "Oh, I guess I never really do," he replied. "I'm good with whatever's on." I'm not going to make the transition to owning no music since I like & constantly use my 2005 iPod, and still have a major CD collection that takes up a lot of space (at my parent's house, mwahaha!). So for me, simplifying music might be a few steps down the road. I do have a lot of digital clutter on that iPod.

Much like I respect my friend for living without heeding the unessential pull of instant music-desire gratification, I think others have a respect for those who can "do without" in various areas of life and still live a full, happy existence. I might have to ponder on some of the Simple Life Suggestions from this list from Becoming Minimalist:
  • buy things for their usefulness rather than their status. stop trying to impress others with your stuff and start trying to impress them with your life.
  • reject anything that is producing an addiction in you. refuse to be a slave to anything: coffee, cigarettes, soda, television, chocolate, alcohol…
  • develop a habit of giving things away. most of us could get rid of half of our possessions without any serious sacrifice.
  • refuse to be propagandized by modern gadgetry. technology doesn’t always make your life simpler. as a matter of fact, most of the time it just makes your life more cluttered.
  • learn to enjoy things without owning them. ownership is nothing, access is everything.
  • develop a deeper appreciation for nature.
  • reject anything that breeds the oppression of others. bananas, coffee, etc.
  • never underestimate the freedom of plain, honest speech. a lack of simplicity in one area, such as speech, can undermine simplicity in every area.
One item I might add is "don't be afraid to say no" since I consistently overbook myself then get frustrated & anxious because "I don't have enough time!" But tonight I do have time, so I'm going to drink a large mug of tea and watch old episodes of Big Bang Theory, something the Thessalonians missed out on unfortunately.

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