Aspire to live a quiet life, to mind your own affairs and to work with your hands.”1 Thessalonians 4:11
Something about the verse in Thessalonians has pulled me in over the years and made me curious. This idea of a quiet life. What could that mean? It isn’t an idea our society promotes. We are addicted to social media and sharing every moment of our lives. We’ve got to be funny, relatable, and in the eye of the public at all times. We are not a society that thrives on quiet, stillness and minding our own affairs. The opposite is held in high regard. I’ve tried to keep up with these standards. I’ve noticed I don’t thrive on fast-paced, I don’t thrive around loud, and I could do better when things feel complicated.
The idea of simple came to me in October of 2022. My Word of the Year typically comes to me around that time. Different ideas and thoughts will swirl with me for a couple of months. Typically by my birthday in December, I’ve settled on what the new year will focus on. This past year I knew the concept of simple was it. Each year eventually revealed itself as to why I began to lean into whatever my word and theme had been. I didn’t make it out of 2022 before realizing why simple came to me, why it would be necessary, and why it would be the best decision I made before the year began.
Continue had been my word for 2022. It proved essential, reminding me not to give up, to continue in what I knew, and to continue doing the next right thing. It gave me the bravery to commit to simple this year, to simplify my life, and to commit to the importance of what brings joy to myself and my family. My partner and I spent the last day of 2022 and the first day of 2023 making plans for our coming year, committing to each other, our kids, our dreams, what we are called to do in our lives, our passions, and our budget. There was nothing easy about sitting down for two days and making such huge commitments. And in the intricacies of planning our life, I settled into this concept of simple. With simple came open and with open came gentle. How could we frame our life to settle into the simple pleasures, to stay open to where God would lead, and to stay gentle with each other and ourselves?
What a beautiful concept.
Something about these words, this coming year, these commitments, feels powerful. It feels like stepping into a new way of life. And in a way, it feels like coming home. It feels like returning to the place I’ve been trying to get to for years. I’ve been searching for the real me I lost. This year feels as if I’ve finally found her. And in finding her, I could commit to her more profoundly and powerfully. I know exactly what I want, and I’m not afraid of it anymore.
I don’t believe God called me to hustle. I don’t think God called me to overschedule my life with things society deems important. I’m trying to hold those things up, hold them out, hands open, and let things that don’t belong fly away. I want to frame things that come to us with the question, Is this a simple choice for our family? Is this the gentle way for us to go? Is this part of us being open?
As I pondered my verse, I saw a pot full of flowers. I began to sketch, trying something different, letting my imagination take me on a journey. There is something about arranging a vase of flowers, working with your hands, that feels quiet, gentle, and beautiful. Flowers are resilient, weathering storms, cold snaps, and heat waves, blooming where they find themselves. I’m fascinated by plants. There are so many different varieties. They are all unique. They all have different strengths and weaknesses. They remind me of people and how there are different cultures, gifts, dreams, strengths, and weaknesses that make up our world and make it beautiful.
By leaning into simple, quiet, gentle, openness, I can tap more into my strengths and my gifts and let them flourish. I hope to see my weaknesses and see them not as faults but as opportunities to ask others to help me. I hope for another full year of learning and growing.