Friday, October 30, 2009

Peace, Complexity and Simplicity

Today the family and I had the opportunity to celebrate the life of a friend of ours, Winnie Grebe. Her memorial service was a moment of reflection for myself. What struck me the most during this time is the connection between the words peace, complexity and simplicity.

Plainly said, there is no peace in complexity...there is only peace in simplicity. Consider what this statement is referring to. Think of the chaos and stress that surrounds pulling off something that is complex in nature, be it an event, trip or experience of some kind. Each of the details can bring frustration, joy, discontent and stress!! Now think of engaging in an activity, experience or event that is derived from simplicity. Let it stew in your heart and in your mind. Get past the notion of needing to fill time and space with stuff, and really embrace the idea of this simple approach to whatever memory or experience you've decided to create.

I'll tell you something. After doing this simple exercise I have found that the complex memory brings me stress, but the simple one brings me peace...and in peace I find joy!!

I want to deconstruct some myths about simplicity. Simplicity does not mean being lazy. Sure, a complex event takes more time, effort and planning to pull off...or does it? I believe that choosing to embrace simplicity takes as much, if not more effort than complexity does. Pursuing simplicity means setting up boundaries that keep you focused in the task at hand. Simplicity requires discipline; a willingness to submit to whatever guidelines, boundaries and parameters are set up to guide the experience, journey or event.

Think about this example of a marriage. In basic terms, a marriage is a life-long relational commitment between two members of the opposite sex. The notion of marriage is simple, yet we can begin to make it complex. Add in the dynamics of bills, jobs, kids, cars, vacation, in-laws and other things, and you soon end up with a complex image of what marriage is. Yet, at it's core, a marriage is still defined by the relational connection between these two people of opposite gender. Choosing to define a marriage by these simple standards is hard. It's hard because all of the other stuff begins to attach itself to a marriage, and our quest and thirst for complexity overshadows our need and desire for simplicity.

There is beauty in simplicity...and there is also complexity!! Yep, that's right, there is complexity in simplicity. Consider this statement: "Love one another as I have loved you." Jesus spoke similar words to His disciples. This is a simple statement, but its' implications are complex and profound. In this case, choosing to love other people means to personify Christ-like characteristics in every relational connection with others. Seems simple, but it's complex. It's not complex for the sake of being complex, it's complex because it radically reshapes the way we see the world around us.

Complexity for the sake of complexity is more like a list of do's and don'ts that you need to follow in order to gain a reward. This kind of complexity doesn't bring anything but frustration, hopelessness, fear and bewilderment. There is no peace in this kind of complexity.

Jesus said this to His disciples in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you." I wonder what Jesus was referring to? I believe He was talking about simplicity, not complexity. How about you, what do you think?

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A Little Something from Psalm 8

 Had a lot of fun with this one.