The Courage of True Simplicity

by Mark Votava


There is a deep fear in us to give up everything and practice a courageous simplicity in everyday life.  But isn’t this what it means to follow Jesus in the twenty-first century world we live in.  I have wrestled with what this is for me as I am learning what it means to seek God in my context of life.  It seems that simplicity needs to be a part of this process for me to be free of the consumeristic lifestyle that will take a lot of my focus and time.

I want to share with you a longing in my soul for a courageous simplicity:

Give me a desire to live with only what I need in this life.  Help me find liberation from the dominant narrative of consumerism that kills any imagination for simplicity.  I want to be free to seek what is of love, compassion, grace and humility.  Keep me in the ways of vulnerability and truthfulness.

May simplicity protect me to be kind and empowered by the Spirit.  I want to have the courage to live in simplicity throughout my lifetime.  Give me the strength to live this way, to practice this wisdom and to find you in each present moment.  May I never be afraid to practice simplicity for the sake of loving others more authentically.

I desire this way of life, this way of honesty, this way of peace in the place I inhabit.  Bring to my mind your beauty, goodness and kindness as I live into what I know about simplicity.  Let me find the simplicity of Jesus in this twenty-first century context.  I want nothing else.

  •  It takes courage to simplify our lives

It takes courage to simplify our lives.  It takes courage to search for and enter into a lifelong process of discovery about what really matters in everyday life. This process of discovery is relational.  It is embodied in the place that we live. Without simplicity, we will not be able to connect very well either to God or to one another.

  •  Life-giving vision for living together

Richard J. Foster notes, “As we strive for simplicity we take energy away from the direction the world is heading and refocus it on a new, life-giving vision for living together.  Simplicity engenders new values which bring about new decisions which brings about a new society.

  •  It is worth the risk

What will people think if we live a life of simplicity?  We might stand out too much and become something other than the status quo.  But it is worth the risk.

  •  Simplicity redefines everyday life

When we embrace simplicity, it will shape us in ways we cannot understand. Simplicity redefines everyday life and all our relationships.  It helps us to become integrated into the communal imagination.

  •  Courage and true simplicity

Thomas Merton writes, “Without courage we can never attain to true simplicity.”

  •  Everyday relationships are what really matter

Our place and our everyday relationships in that place are what really matter in life.  This is so integral to our spirituality.  Without a theology of place, we cannot live into the courage of simplicity and embrace a holistic counterculture. Simplicity is not necessarily an act of ethics or morality, but rather an act of courage.

  •  It takes courage

Courage is everything to our spirituality.  It takes courage to be in relationship with others.  It takes courage to forsake the status quo and be creative with our everyday lives.  It takes courage to see life through the eyes of beauty and simplicity.  It takes courage to become rooted in a place.

  •  Creating a new synergy

When we intentionally practice simplicity, we draw energy away from the individualistic, consumeristic thrust of society and create a new synergy. Simplicity empowers us to imagine a life that is not bound to the North American status quo lifestyle.

“To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:29).

  •  What hope is there for society?

This energy of simplicity is about finding value in what truly matters so that society can still remain beautiful.  What hope is there for society if there is no return to simplicity?  What hope is there for us without beauty in the world?

  •  Simplicity could save our civilization

What hope is there if everyday life should lose all its value?  Simplicity could save our civilization.  Maybe we could be the ones who preserve some value and beauty in life.

In what ways have you practiced a courageous simplicity?