Being the Most Free to Hear the Voice of Love

by Mark Votava

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As I have practice simplicity in my life it has led me to become marginalized from the mainstream society.  I do not fit in as most people love their individualistic lives of hyper-consumerism.  Life is all about money for most of us.  When we give priority to more important things such as becoming an expression of love in the world, we feel the pressure to give in and conform to individualism constantly.

We forget the “we” and become a capital “I” standing alone to get as much out of our autonomous life as we can.  Simplicity is foreign to our ways of life in North America.  I don’t understand how life is found in the things we own.  To me, this is depressing and leaves me wondering if authentic community is even possible in our highly mobile, consumeristic world.

I want to follow in the authentic path of Jesus who gave up any pursuit of money, power and possessions to live a life of listening to the voice of love.  Simplicity will lead me to authenticity.  Simplicity is countercultural and threatening to the status quo.  Do we have the courage to practice it and stop turning to what cultivates our false selves?  Maybe some of us should give away our money and possessions so we can live into humility, love and truth.

  • Whatever is lovely

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

  • Practicing simplicity

There is no way we can think about such things unless we practice simplicity, because without it, we will never be attentive to everyday life.  Only in simplicity are we able to discern what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and excellent in others.  Only in simplicity can we once more begin to see our place as beautiful and sacred and God’s gift to us.  Only in simplicity do we stop taking others for granted.

  • Be the most free to hear the voice of love

Mark Scandrette, who has lived in the Mission District of San Francisco for over a decade, says, “The quest for simplicity and contentment, rather than being legislated by rules, can be guided by a question: ‘How can I manage my life to be the most free to hear the voice of love?’  You will find the best rhythm of simplicity through careful experimentation.”

  • Careful experimentation

What this “careful experimentation” looks like will depend on your particular context.

  • Options for discerning simplicity

Maybe it looks like renting a home instead of taking out a mortgage to buy one. Maybe it looks like buying a cheaper home so you don’t have to work fifty or sixty hours a week to pay for a bigger one.  Maybe it has to do with trading in your car for a cheaper one.  Maybe it has to do with getting rid of your car altogether and working at a job in the neighborhood instead of commuting to a job outside the neighborhood.

Maybe it has to do with taking a pay cut in order to work at a job that you enjoy more.  Maybe it has to do with walking or biking more in the neighborhood. Maybe it has to do with getting rid of your entertainment devices so you can spend more time with people.

Maybe it has to do with simplifying your wardrobe.  Maybe it has to do with abstaining from certain social events or monitoring what you eat and drink. Maybe it has to do with buying less stuff.  Maybe it has to do with practicing media fasts.

  • Have the courage to enter into a process of discovery

There are countless examples that could be cited.  Probably no two people will make exactly the same decisions.  The important thing is that we have the courage to enter into a process of discovering how to embody simplicity so we can again listen to our lives and connect with others.  This will constantly evolve as we go through different stages of life.  God will always reveal what steps we need to take to simplify our lives.

How is simplicity an act of courage for you?