[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #3 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]
“Live simply so that others may simply live.”
This is a difficult statement because it requires us to define the word, “simply.”
It does ask us to decide the difference between two very different words: NEED as in “must have… survival, you know” — and WANT as in “sure-would-be-nice-to-have and-fun, too”! Of course, the internal argument that goes on in determining an answer is easier if we can quickly convert the “wanted” to the “needed.” But that truly isn’t a solution, is it? So why is it such a challenge?
Well, one word suggests we may need to give up something or maybe make a change in lifestyle or abandon the “I-deserve-it” mentality. And does less make any sense (almost un-American?) or is having more really being self-indulgent? Tough questions if we really want to be honest with ourselves. Now some of you may have stopped reading now because no one likes thoughts and ideas that make us uncomfortable. But I will share a small personal example.
This want-need struggle of mine first became apparent when I moved into a different house, one which I did not own. Along with all the possessions moved into the house were just the loveliest set of bath towels that were ideal in the former house… but now they were completely incompatible with the decor of the new bathroom, a total aesthetic nightmare in my eyes at least. Now I know any reader will have an immediate solution: “Paint!” Remember I said it was not my house, and it was inappropriate for me to get the permission of the owner. And then there were the realistic positions which I confronted literally and figuratively: The budget is tight. We can’t afford this. Just get over it. And finally, the last straw, will the towels still do what a towel is supposed to do?
Now this may be a trite example, but for many of us this “want-need” struggle still affects our lives, especially if we are trying to follow the Biblical truths that address the acquisition of “getting” and the teachings on “giving.” But what if those truths mean we would really have more, not less?
More of what, you ask?
Here are only a few answers:
MORE room in our closets (… shall we have a shoe counting contest?)
MORE resources to help those who really do have needs… food, clothing, shelter…
MORE time to serve others, not just stuff that keeps us busy or on the go.
MORE rest not invaded by worry of bills, keeping up with the Joneses, etc.
MORE sharing of words that express appreciation, compassion, kindness.
So, make your own list of MORE’S…
And by the way, that opening statement — “Live simply so that others may simply live” — was written by Henry David Thoreau… I think Jesus would agree with him.