Reflecting on Simplicity: A Crisis of Comfort
There is a trend in modernity that tells us that comfort comes from the accumulation of goods—getting more things to do more tasks for us, that can save us time and energy, that can make us have a more peaceful life. In other words, the old adage that money can’t buy happiness may be true—but it can buy comfort. The problem of this is that we are always being asked to add to our possessions. To buy into a system that we are never quite able to keep up with. There is always going to be the next best thing, the next best version; and it creates an (intentionally) unfulfillable list of items we must purchase in order to be comfortable.
The spiritual discipline of simplicity asks us to tackle comfort in a different way. One difficulty in writing these newsletters and defining the discipline of simplicity is its seeming overlap with the discipline of fasting (or, at least, the way we talked about practicing it). Both are asking us to strip our lives of something for the good of our relationship with God. But while fasting is intended to put you in a space of discomfort, thereby reminding you of the ways in which worldly things intercept your relationship with God, simplicity is intended to put you in a space of comfort, reminding us of our contentment in the simple gifts of God.
Simplicity asks us to feel joy in the natural world, away from the distractions of technology. It asks us to feel peace at our lack of possessions, and the sigh of relief from having only the necessities. It asks us to feel happiness in an uncluttered routine, where the majority of our time is devoted to God, our families, and our churches. Simplicity seeks to save us from the crisis of comfort that we have created through materialism and busyness, and instead find comfort in the little things from God.