Top 10 Manifestations of Simplicity

by Mark Votava


In a society that is so addicted to consumerism is there any way to practice a simplicity in everyday life that will bring peace to our world?  These are some of the questions that I have wrestled with over time.  Simplicity could shape our lives in tremendous ways that we will not always understand.

But I am discovering that sometimes I fear simplicity.  Maybe simplicity will create too much havoc in my family.  Maybe I am afraid that I will discover a lack of identity around things that do not have to do with consumerism.  Maybe I will have a mental breakdown without all the stuff I think I need.

This fear runs so deep in me that I would rather live in my lies than face the reality of my addiction to consumerism.  Sometimes I do not want to face my false self that I have constructed over many years of hard work.  Letting go of this feels like a death to everything that I think I am.  But I am finding that simplicity creates new paradigms of clarity, truth and hope within me.

This is what I long for as I struggle with the courage to face my own fears around simplicity.  Simplicity moves me into a greater integration with my true self.  The false self is exposed as a fake, an illusion, something that is not healthy and life-giving to me.  I want to embrace the Jesus of simplicity, peace, love, compassion and humility.

Here are 10 manifestation of simplicity that I think are important in life.

1. Courage

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.

2. Embodiment

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.

3. New Values

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.”

4. 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.

5. Integration

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.

6. A commitment to place

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.

7. Creativity

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.

8. Synergy

It takes courage to become rooted in a place.  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).

9. Rediscovering beauty

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?

10. Hope

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.

Does simplicity make you afraid in certain ways?