Thursday Themes is an ongoing series of posts focused on given topics or passages of scripture relevant to adoption, knowing God, and learning to live simply and love radically. Please feel free to tweet theme suggestions to me @MamaMcAfee or leave a suggestion in the comments section.
In the Live Simply series, we're exploring what it means to live simply in every aspect of our lives. Living simply is a way of life that radically redefines how you see the world and how you interact with it. It's almost never easy, but always rewarding. And at the end of the day, those who choose to pursue simple, I believe, will be far better people for it and will know God in a much deeper way than when complex got in the way.
Living simply is about practicing rest.
Admit it you don't stop to rest very often. Not really anyway. Oh, you may stop and veg out in front of the TV for a while or you may take a five minute break at the office to check Facebook, but if you're honest with yourself, you know those things aren't really rest. Those are distractions. Those are putting life on hold for a few moments. But life is still whirring in the periphery.
About two weeks ago, a foreign object of some sort fell into my eye. I was calmly sitting at my desk, going about my work and all of a sudden something was in my eye. So I did what we all do. I blinked a lot, rubbed my eye lid in a circular motion and tried to encourage the foreign object to vacate my eye.
This did not produce the desired result.
So I went to the bathroom and splashed water in my eye until I saw a small black speck appear. I plucked it from my eye and returned to my desk after another few splashes of water, but it was too late. The damage had already been done. By that evening, my eyelid had swelled up to ten times its normal size and I looked like I had been sucker-punched in the face. By the next morning, my eye was horribly infected, and I was unable to open either eye because of the pain and light sensitivity in my left eye.
A trip to my GP. A few drops to clear out the infection. And a patch over my eye for 24 hours. (I know you're imagining me as a pirate right now. I know because I heard every pirate joke in the book during those 24 hours. But I hate to disappoint, it was only gauze and tape.)
A little better Saturday. A little better Sunday.
But Monday, the light sensitivity was worse again and it was back to my GP who decided it was time to call the optometrist. Appointment made for Wednesday and a doctor's note to say absolutely no work and no driving and generally no looking at anything. Tuesday morning, I woke up to a severely infected eye once again. A call to the optometrist's office, a little pleading to get me in that day, and another doctor's visit later to find out I had a sizeable gash in my cornea. Cleaning my eye ball again and new drops with antibiotic and steroid.
A week later, I think the eye has finally healed, but my vision hasn't completely returned. Back to the optometrist tomorrow for a follow-up.
In total, I stayed home from work for three and a half days with a weekend in between and didn't drive or look at a computer for over a week.
I think this was probably the most frustrating sick experience of my life. Frustrating because my brain and body were both fully functioning. I wasn't tired or lethargic. But I couldn't do anything because I couldn't see. All I could do was lay in the dark and listen to podcasts and music. This wasn't like having the flu where I could pull out all my sick movies and watch them over and over again, muting the aches and pains. No I just had to sit there dosing in and out of consciousness and listening to the pain.
It was horrible.
But after day three or four, I began to accept my condition a bit more and I began to realize how much I needed this forced rest. How much I needed for everything to just stop. For the whole world to be put on pause.
Now I do not think there was some sort of divine conspiracy here in which God caused the speck to fall in my eye so I would have to stop and rest and recoup my spirit. But I do think that little speck ended up being used for good despite the pain and frustration involved.
Used for good because we all need to stop and rest, and with the nature of our society, sometimes we need something to force us to stop, step outside of all the complex and rest.
There is currently only one rule in my house. More will come, I'm sure, as Hannah arrives and gets settled in, but while it's only me, there's only one rule:
Do not make the bed on Sunday.
Really what this translates to is no chores on Sunday. No anything that is not rest and enjoying community and God and family. All those chores can be done the other six days of the week, but beds should not be made on Sunday.
I have this rule because it's about rest. I have to have parameters in place to make sure I stop and rest.
Everytime I walk into my bedroom and see the unmade bed, it reminds me today is about rest. Today is about relationship. Today is about simple. Today is about forgetting the unimportant and being grateful for the important.
I have this rule because if I don't see the unmade bed then I'll think of this thing I need to get done, and that project I've been putting off, and those bills I need to pay, and all those things that are perfectly capable of being done on the other six days.
Rest, real rest, is the thing that makes living a simple life possible. It's the thing that slows everything down and allows you to remember to pursue simple. It's the thing that reminds you why you're pursuing living simply in the first place.
If you're not already doing so, carve out a space in your life for rest, for Sabbath. One day a week that is for nothing but rest and relationship--relationships which are life giving. I think it's one of the best steps you can possibly take towards living simply in your day to day.
Read other post in the Live Simply series: