I sat today and listened to a professional explain something that had the potential of being rather complicated and overwhelming. I watched her brain working in her eyes as she analyzed her student and immediately simplified her material down to the basics. As the conversation progressed, she continued to re-explain, re-evaluate and re-simplify. Over and over. And she did it with patience and kindness and a sense of understanding and humor.
By the time she was finished she had truly done her job. Through her simple instruction, she had made exciting change not only possible, but manageable. She could have done what I have seen many others do (and have done myself). She could have overwhelmed her listener with layer after layer of excellent information. She could have lectured and layered and lectured some more. And she would have left the listener tired and overwhelmed and unmotivated. But she didn’t. She chose to leave out what she and I both knew was incredibly valuable information. Because it was just too much. She chose instead to teach the basics.
She had given the gift of simplicity.
It was refreshing to me. And reminded me of the power and patience of simplicity. It can be applied in just about every area of life.
As moms, we have to learn what our littles can handle. You might assign your 4-year-old to cleaning out the entire fridge. But if your 4-year-old is anything like mine, that would be a dire mistake. There would be disaster to pay.
As wives, we discover that sometimes brilliant men need to be given very simple instruction. Very. Slowly. One. Item. At. A. Time. In one of those crazy, miraculous moments when my husband asks me “what can I do to help?” I have been known to ramble on with excited purpose: “Awesome! Thanks! Okay…this bag goes to the car for goodwill. This box goes into storage. These 3 things go to the kitchen…” and so forth. But I look up mid-sentence and he’s gone. Vanished….. With just the first item. ONE thing in his hand! I mean, seriously? The man has a PhD and he can only handle one put-away task at a time? It has been one of the great marriage mysteries of my life. But it has taught me to simplify.
As a homekeeper, I am constantly learning to simplify. Less is more. Finish only the task at hand. Improve one layer at a time instead of trying to overhaul the entire universe before supper. Yeah. About that…. Still learning.
As a teacher I must sort through the things I have learned in over 30 years of being a musician and choose to give my students only what they need in that particular lesson. I certainly don’t do it perfectly. But the older I get, the more I value simplicity.
Isn’t it exciting how God understands my frame and applies simplicity perfectly to the lessons He teaches me? He knows how to boil things down to my level. When He has a lesson for me, many times He sends the message through multiple methods. I will hear it in a song, in a sermon, in a book I’m reading, from a friend. And by the time Abba is done with me, His perfectly filtered, powerfully simple message settles in and becomes part of my heart as Light and Truth and Love.
I am going through one of those longish, hardish struggles that make me want to cry out to God…”whatever this lesson is, Lord, please help me to GET IT so we can move on!” I am remembering tonight that He is teaching me layer upon layer. And He knows how to simplify complicated lessons. And that takes time. I am not a natural at this whole simplicity thing. I can complicate anything. But no one is as patient as Him. And He knows my heart like no other. So perhaps, just maybe, I need to stop trying to conquer the world before supper and relax into His beautiful simplicity.
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” ― Henry David Thoreau