If any of you are fans of country music, then you’ve probably heard Florida Georgia Line’s new song, “Simple.” In the song, the lead singer explains that ever since he met this girl, all he needs is a simple life. After hearing this song several times, I concluded that he and the girl were so in love that nothing else in the world mattered to them anymore. This romantic relationship is actually a good metaphor when talking about a relationship with Christ. Once we recognize Jesus’ love for us and love Him back, all of the worldly desires suddenly don’t seem so attractive.
Now, the interesting thing about a relationship with Jesus is that simplicity of life is not only a result of it, but also a road to it. In other words, if we strive to remove some of the clutter from our lives, we will be more in touch with Jesus and He will better be able to reach us. And when we are more in touch with Jesus, we don’t need worldly possessions to satisfy us. It’s a two-way street.
Living simply can benefit our spiritual lives in other ways, too. For starters, sainthood, in the context of going to Heaven, is much more attainable if we don’t grasp onto things of this world. Jesus says in Luke 18:25, “For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (This isn’t only in Luke; Mark and Matthew feature this same quote almost verbatim in their own gospels) I interpret this verse as that the pathway to Heaven is very small, like the eye of a needle, and the only way to fit through is if we leave all of our stuff behind. And it makes sense when you think about it. All of our possessions and accomplishments are great, but at the end of the day, their importance shrinks in comparison to eternal life.
“For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Prayer, especially daily individual prayer, is going to be tremendously improved by a simpler way of life. Think about how loud and distracting our culture is today. Smartphones are always buzzing, Netflix can be accessed 24 hours a day, and wall-to-wall media coverage overwhelms us. Taking a step back from all of this, even if it’s just a few minutes a day, lets us be silent. And silence is the first step in prayer. Sometimes, that’s all that is necessary and God can take the prayer from there. Hey, I just rhymed! All jokes aside, it is so important to set aside the distractions and find a quiet place where you can just pray and reflect on your day. St. Padre Pio explained prayer as “the oxygen of the soul.” Think about what would happen if our souls never got quiet time to pray!
“Live simply so others can simply live!” This is a quote from St. Mother Teresa, and it brings up another positive effect of the simpler way of life: the opportunity to help others. We are so blessed here in the U.S. and other first-world countries to have more than enough to survive. But the sad reality is that many people in the world today are desperately struggling and searching for help. Before seeing that quote, I had never considered that the widespread materialism in the West might actually be taking away from those less fortunate. All the extra stuff that we buy for no reason could be helping others. Now, I’m not trying to generalize everybody or just blame this on society. But all of us can fall victim to this lie that more stuff is always better. And that’s exactly what it is, a lie. Cluttering our lives with junk is only distracting us from what really matters and it’s incapacitating us to be generous. That’s why I love that quote from St. Mother Teresa so much; it illustrates that the simple life empowers us to reach out and help others.
Whew! That was a lot. Ironically, writing about simplicity seemed quite complex. So let’s just end with a little prayer.
Loving Father, we thank you for all the gifts you have blessed us with. Help us to not get so caught up in these gifts that we forget you. Give us the wisdom to set our hearts on things above this world. Give us the mindfulness to retreat into silence and remember you in our day-to-day lives. Give us an open heart to see those in need and give generously. And finally, give us the faith to live a more simple life and to trust that you will provide. Amen.