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‘Tis the gift to be simple

October, 2016

Growing spiritually, conserving God’s gifts and being happy with less seem to be on the minds of many United Methodists who responded to a recent Facebook post. We asked, “Do you hope to simplify your life in 2012? If so, how?” Along with receiving nearly 300 “likes,” the query prompted many ideas.

Writing from New Braunfels, Texas, Susie Smith Cummins offered a slice of wisdom. “Don’t dwell on (those) who let you down. Cherish those who hold you up.”

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford of Elgin, Ill., said, “There are the things that matter — my faith, my family, following the will of God in my life. Then there’s everything else.”

“I am going to get rid of clutter, in all forms, physical, emotional, social and religious,” vowed Kelli Ellen Kurtz of Phoenix. “There will be less distraction in my life … so my focus can be true to where my energy needs to be directed. I will be in the moment.”

Teri Tangen, a lay member of First United Methodist Church, Duluth, Minn., agreed. “Time flies by, and the things that are most important tend to get lost in the ‘busyness’ of life. God is always present. I just need to be there also.”

And from Chicago, Jackie Walker Gibson wrote, “I’m resolving to do less in 2012 so I can make more time for the more important things in life. My plan is to learn how to say ‘no’ in a way that allows me to have that down time but doesn’t offend people.”

“You can’t please the whole world,” added Portia Nyagato Kadzirange.

The Rev. Hollie Tapley, associate pastor at Memorial United Methodist Church, Fernandina Beach, Fla., mentioned radical hospitality, intentional discipleship and “salty service.” That term was new to me, so I went to the Florida Annual (regional) Conference websiteto learn more.

A salty servant (Matthew 5:13), I discovered, joins Jesus in service to persons outside his or her congregation for at least one hour a week through hands-on mercy ministry alleviating the suffering of others, justice ministry addressing systems that cause suffering, Earth-care as a steward of God’s creation or relationship-building to ease the emotional or spiritual needs of others.

Ideas from A to Z

Some respondents leaned toward spirituality, while others encouraged lifestyle changes. Here — from A to Z — is a sampling.

  • Allow God to guide my way. Trust God fully. Focus on God’s priorities. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Ask God for discernment about how to simplify.
  • Be more faithful in daily devotions.
  • Do what I need to do when I need to do it. Embark on ambitions I actually know I will accomplish.
  • Forgive and forget.
  • Get rid of clutter — both physical and psychological. Decide what is non-essential and donate it to bless others.
  • Give my best gifts — time and attention — to the people and tasks that matter the most.
  • Have more family time.
  • Listen and do God’s will. Listen to my conscience.
  • Love others.
  • Make church my focal point.
  • Praise, pray, practice my faith.
  • Re-evaluate my commitments. Am I doing tasks to make myself look good or to answer God’s call?
  • Serve more in my church and community.
  • Study the Bible. Read the Bible from cover to cover.
  • Tithe.
  • Work for peace.
  • Worship passionately.
  • Zap worry from my life.

Every response appeared carefully thought out — even the tongue-in-cheek one from Jon Schuetzeberg of Los Angeles. “All the same colored socks!”

But the response from Kareen Acap of the Philippines was, perhaps, my favorite.

“Live simple, think less, love more and submit everything to God.”

Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor, United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.