by Emma Crauford
I have recently said “No” to a few things.
Good, worthy and lovely things.
“No” isn’t my normal default position and it tastes a bit gritty in my mouth when I say it. But with it only being February and a couple of my warning lights already flashing, I knew I needed my answer to be “No” this time.
A good old-fashioned breakdown 9 years ago taught me how to recognize my warning lights before I was at the point of a full CODE RED.
I found myself sitting at my kitchen table on my first day completely alone since the term began, clutching my coffee cup and staring out the window, trying to arrange the thoughts in my head into some neat and organized categories, an almost impossible task.
And there he sat.
My little bird, gifted to me by a dear friend last year.
I love this little bird, but this particular day I felt like he was asking the impossible.
“But how?” I whispered, realizing the tears had already started.
In reality, to love deeply almost guarantees the opposite to a simple life. It requires a huge investment of our hearts, our minds, our time and energy. It always costs something and is often painful. More than ever before, I am hungering for a simple life. And I don’t think I am alone in this.
Social media is full of #slowliving and #thesimplelife but what does it actually mean to live simply or to live slowly?
Is it to own less stuff? Maybe. But then I think of those in developing countries who own practically nothing and their lives are far from simple and slow. Their very existence is hard work on a daily basis.
Is it to know less people? But that takes me back to how we are called to LOVE DEEPLY, to know and be known and live in community with one another.
Is it to do less? Maybe. But more than ever, there is so much that needs to be done in this hurting and broken world. People need feeding, rescuing, saving. We all need to do our bit. Now is not the time to sit and stare, there is too much at stake.
As I write this I still haven’t actually figured it out. In my wondering, and thinking about these things, I have come to realize a couple of things that are true for me…..and maybe you too?
I had my bible and journal open on the table that day and I wrote these words:
1. Seek Him First.
A starting point in my journey to living simply and loving deeply would have to start with Him, my Heavenly Father. I would need to keep coming back to Him and His Word – the light and lamp I desperately need for wisdom and strength.
2. And to love deeply I will need to put my oxygen mask on first.
My mum coined this phrase with me a few years ago and it has become an essential habit for me. I was reflecting with some girlfriends the other day on the JOY acronym that we grew up learning; Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.
We agreed that there is so much truth in that statement, but as I looked around the table that day at those strong and brave Christian women, all battle weary from life, I realized one thing – none of us can love and serve from an empty place.
As women and mothers with a thousand balls in the air at once, we need to push aside the guilt from thinking that we can’t afford to take care of ourselves and instead start creating space in our lives for the deep lung-expanding, soul satisfying breaths of air that will fill our tanks again.
So I am on a journey. I want to keep Seeking Him first, and I am also going to be intentional at keeping my tank full in the real hope that I can live wisely, serve generously and most importantly love deeply for the rest of my days.