If you think your life is too complicated, you’re right! It’s time to live more gently in this frenzied, chaotic world.
But how do we do that?
- We need jobs; but do we really need to work 60 hours a week?
- We must wash clothes; but do we need so many clothes?
- We all enjoy eating delicious food; but can we plan simpler, less expensive meals?
In Voluntary Simplicity, Duane Elgin describes simple living (what we call gentle living) as: “living in a way that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich. This way of life embraces frugality of consumption, a strong sense of environmental urgency, and a desire to return to living and working environments which are of a more human scale.”
As Christians, we would add that living gently, at its heart, just means putting Jesus above anything or anyone else, and that belief affects every decision. Our lives should definitely exhibit being “inwardly rich.”
Gentle living is about how we relate to God, others, and the creation, without ostentatious lifestyles or values based on possessions. It’s about how we manage our resources, finances, energy (personal and environmental), intellect, and time.
Simple living has been defined as “intentional living.” That means:
- Living in freedom to be who God made you to be and to accomplish His plan for your life;
- Realizing that the Joneses may place their trust in what money can buy, but we strive to “lay up treasures in heaven”;
- Being comfortable, confident, and content with basic provisions;
- Fully enjoying whatever possessions God provides, but not constantly striving for bigger and better;
- Caring for and being good stewards of God’s creation.
Knowing how much is “enough” and how much more than enough steals the gentleness from our lives;
Earning an honest living and being content to plan and spend accordingly.
Gentle living celebrates a life that is as self-sustaining as possible in a way that we have time for pursuits that enrich our lives and souls.
One of the first writers to use the term “simplicity” as it relates to lifestyle was Henry David Thoreau. While living in a small cabin on Walden Pond near Concord, New Hampshire in the 1840s, he raised some of his food and fished. He entertained visitors and spent much time in study and meditation. He determined to learn what it took to live simply.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” he said.
At the end of two years, he concluded: “Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”
Are some of the things we think are so important really hindrances?
Perhaps it’s time for us to “go to the woods,” figuratively, and determine what it takes to live more gently. By examining our possessions, commitments, finances, and expectations, can we have more time, money, and energy for things we say are important to us, such as serving others and building relationships?
In this blog, we intend to examine some of these concepts. We’ll delve into the spiritual as well as the practical aspects of gentle living. We plan to blog about biblical insights as well as hands-on tips for endeavors such as homemaking, gardening, creation care, relationships, and anything else God lays on our hearts. We will frequently review books, blogs, magazine articles, and other resources that might be useful to our readers.
We are both sojourners on this path, and we invite you to travel with us. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we promise to learn and grow in our quest for living more gently, and we will enjoy sharing that with you.