Closets Full of Kryptonite: Searching for Simplicity

I would truly like to believe that my desire for simplicity is not only related to laundry. But I’ll be honest – that’s a big factor. Having three active sons and myself has, on occasion, led to a mountain of laundry. A clean mountain, mind you, but an unfolded and unpressed mountain. And the cycle continues – and worsens. Since those clothes are readily available for wearing (at least not with my disdain for wrinkles), other clothes are pulled out of the closet, worn, washed, and added to the mountain. Where did all of this come from?
I know that laundry is not my only driving force for simplicity. The book Affluenza, based on a PBS documentary, is an excellent read and one that I highly recommend. If it doesn’t challenge your mindset and lifestyle, you either have figured it all out already or you are drowning in stuff. Another book, Seven by Jen Hatmaker, is one that I have picked up because it caught my eye. She goes through an intentional process of simplifying different areas of her life. My recent trip to Honduras was also very impactful. How is that I can be more content and at peace when I have less of my own “comforts”?
That is a question that bears asking. I did not like the week when I returned home – at all. Call it reverse culture shock, call it rain for five days, call it what you like. But the point was sinking in: if the comforts of life (as we call them) don’t comfort me, what’s wrong with this picture? What is wrong is that there only one comfort in life and death: that I am not my own, but I belong body and soul to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
I believe that the Bible provides a strong basis for simplicity, and I want to seek it out. Last December I heard a message with a profound thought on the original sin. Yes, Adam and Eve disobeyed a command of the Lord. Yes, they engaged in the knowledge of good and evil. But what they were really doing was this: taking something more than what God said they needed. Perhaps the tree contained no knowledge, but the action revealed within their Spirit the knowledge that they had done wrong. We know, don’t we?
I have a dog that is four years old and a puppy that is two months old. Both of them know, very well, whether or not they have done wrong. Sometimes they know when they hear my voice. Sometimes my older dog knows that, when I walk through the door, I will see what he has done – and he retreats. We know when we have chosen independence rather than dependence. We know when we have said, “God, I think you missed something; I need that as well.”
That original sin still haunts and clings to us today, and very rarely do we even notice it. The consumption mentality with which we approach life has the long-term effect of numbing us. And when the numbing wears off and we feel unsatisfied or empty, there is a new product ready and available to soothe us all over again. A recent sermon that I heard made the point that we are rich if we have anything beyond food and clothing. As I began to object in mind the trump card was played: “Did Jesus have any more than that?”
We are not Jesus, but we are called to live as he did. And what I see when I look at his life is one that fully relied on God for all things, including any need for consumption. The straw that broke the proverbial back for me was this email advertisement I received: “Fill your closet with fashion and the world with hope.” In other words, “Doug, buy some name-brand things that you don’t need, and we will make a small donation from our profits to different agencies.” Sounds honorable, right? And yet it is so absolutely backwards! The only hope that we can offer the world is that they can place their hope in God, and I am certain I cannot buy that. Now to begin the journey from independence to dependence. I hope you come along.


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