I’m Starving. Are You? Seeking Simplicity in a Culture of Excess

Seeking Simplicity in a Culture of Excess

My heart is screaming for simplicity.

The other night my daughter whined at me, “Mom, why didn’t you buy the ‘Cheer Mom’ t-shirt? It’s so cute!”

I rolled my eyes and said, “Because if I were to buy every t-shirt offered, we’d have taken out a second mortgage by now!”

Really — there’s a t-shirt (or three) for every activity, event, club, competition, team, and game at my kids’ school. Not to mention tumblers, socks, lanyards, and hoodies.

Choice fatigue is everywhere, and I am so sick of it.

It’s one reason why I love shopping at Aldi. For most items, there’s one brand and a size or two. Period. Decision made.

Our culture is cannibalizing itself on excess in just about every sphere. Hundreds of TV channels, blogs, and social media sites scream to inundate us with connection and entertainment.

If our kids want to dance or play a sport, they need not limit themselves to a couple of hours a week. No – they can, literally, devote more time (and money) to their extracurricular life than some folks give college studies, part-time jobs, and marriages.

Our culture is a sea of excess. The mentality is that if “a little” is good, then “a lot” must be great!

But I think this is a dangerous lie that is detrimental to us in many ways.

  • We have insatiable appetites. When we are fed on less-than-satisfying fare, we remain hungry. Munching on popcorn and cotton candy is oh-so-delicious for a time but ultimately leads to a greater depletion and more hunger. Then when we survey all the beautiful offerings at the carnival stand, we are fooled into thinking that this or that shiny treat will satisfy. All of the attractive choices and options in our culture only make us more needy, less fulfilled, and take us farther away from true satiation.
  • We are distracted to the point of paralysis. All of these choices make me lazy and motionless. When I have so many seemingly “worthy” options for spending my money, my free time, and my energy, I often choose a convenient distraction or get lost in a mindless activity that deceptively promises to fill me up. In my life, this distraction is the ultimate disrupter to an abundant life lived with and for Christ, which means the Enemy is all too pleased. Distraction keeps me from doing the things of God, including worship and service.
  • Just because we can doesn’t mean we should — or that it’s good for us. Our choice culture — which includes 8 different brands and styles of toilet paper or 10 different combo meals that can be ordered “your way” in any size you’d like — perpetuates a destructive lie. We believe that we are living full and abundant lives, but the cycle of discard/upgrade/customize is actually a wicked mirage. It’s a never-ending give and take that bankrupts its victims in every way.

Have you experienced this? Are you weary of simply making decisions? Are you tired of trying to juggle everything? Are you sick of buying junk to contain your junk?

I know I feel suffocated. I want simplicity.

Our family feels a little bit “stuck” right now. We feel the tug of the world to join in the craziness — to buy into the delusions that “things” and activities are the keys to fulfillment.

Yet we know better.

Where is true fulfillment? Who ultimately satisfies? Who became nothing so that we can — TRULY — have everything?

The answer is in Christ. When we die to self, and seek him, we find rest, peace, joy, and contentment.

In him, we are empowered to boldly scream at the bondage of excess, “You lie to me and will not have control over me anymore.”

That’s far more satisfying than anything a super-sized meal deal can offer.

Seeking Intentional Simplicity

As God does so ever often in my life, he’s bringing me to the end of myself. He continues to move me from self-centered independence to a more Christ-centered dependence.

I’m so tired of being overfed, overstimulated, overzealous, overanxious, and overwhelmed.

The excess in my life is suffocating me.

I had been mulling over this principle for a few weeks, when I read a phrase yesterday that helped me better articulate my thoughts: the impact of excess.

That got me to consider what the impact of excess has been on my life.

Our culture is a sea of excess. I don’t have to tell you that, do I? The mentality is that if “a little” is good, then “a lot” must be great!

But, I’ve learned over and again in my life, that’s just not true.

My excess most often revolves around busyness and projects and participation. Because I struggle every day with “the good being the enemy of the best,” discernment is non-existent. God’s voice is always shushed—if not silenced altogether—by the cacophony of competing demands and deadlines. And because “the best” (in God’s economy) is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive, it either slips away quietly or zooms quickly past with little more than a flicker of recognition from me.

I’m too busy with focus on “the good”; I’m too distracted or too exhausted to have moments of clarity to be still and know that he is God.

I’m way too concerned with my pursuit of more and my piling of excess upon excess to ever decipher any message God delivers in moments of simplicity.

Because I can see the good in “the good,” I often cloud my radar with “good things.” Those “good things” turn into excess. For me, excess breeds fatigue, idolatry, and an insatiable appetite for more. Ironic, isn’t it? One would think that once I got my belly full, I’d be content, happy, and satisfied. But, no. It’s that lie that, Oh, just a bit more and I’ll finally be happy/fulfilled/content/smart/cool/comfortable, and so on.

I’m working through these issues right now and will continue to share my thoughts here. Right now, I’m seeking a God-centered and God-focused intentional simplicity.

I may not be blogging as much here or I may be here more. Really—honestly—I love blogging and being involved in the online community, but I am a bit uncertain as to what level I should be participating. As I said before, I’ll always write. But I may be writing in other venues.

So, I appreciate your reading and your feedback always. I covet your prayers, as well, as I and my family seek wisdom and discernment. 

What’s been the impact of excess in your life?

Image: Morgue File