Changing the status quo: Back to the life of simplicity
Editor’s Note: This post was written a couple of years ago, but the principles remain the same.
As we grow older, simplicity seems to drift just beyond our reach. It’s like that scene from Cast Away where Tom Hanks wakes up to see Wilson (his volleyball friend) floating further away into the vast ocean. Sometimes life doesn’t afford us the leisure of simplicity.
Life accelerates; work invades our space; birthdays become less important; and bills seem to be personal letters from Satan telling us to cough up our hard earned money. LIFE. It happens–whether we want it to or not. So, how do we reconcile the busyness of life with our need for peace and happiness?
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Leonardo da Vinci
I started taking piano lessons at LSU at 15 (no I was not a genius-it was their after-school program). By the age of 16, I was getting more involved at Bethany Church, and life seemed to be preparing a sure future for me. I would often play on the church’s grand piano before or after school.
One afternoon, one of the church’s event coordinators was preparing for a rehearsal dinner while I played the piano. After a few minutes, she approached me with an exciting opportunity. The pianist for the dinner was not going to be able to make it, so she asked me if I would be interested in playing. The only problem was that I only knew worship songs… She told me worship songs would be fine as the dinner was for a staff member. So I agreed to play.
Side Note: One of my biggest influences at the time was Jonathan Stockstill–the worship pastor. So, most of the songs I knew were songs that he wrote.
After going home to change, I returned to play for the dinner. I was pretty comfortable, given the fact that I assumed the dinner would be small and rather casual. A few minutes into playing Let the Church Rise, I briefly looked up from the piano and in walked Jonathan Stockstill! Here I am, 16 years old, a beginner pianist, trying to play his songs (the only songs I knew)! To say I was embarrassed is an understatement. My hands froze and the life seemed to drain from my body. I was nervous throughout the remainder of the dinner; however, toward the end he recommended that I get involved on the youth worship team. So I did.
That began my 8-year journey playing music in church. From Bethany, to Our Savior’s Church, to a small Baptist Church in Houston (that one’s for you, Joey), music has been my life. Over the years, my views and beliefs became framed by church life. Dreams were spawned from a perspective that excluded anything beyond the four walls of the church. Needless to say, frustrations and expectations ultimately wore me out.
The past several months have taught me a lot about the need for the simple life. Working two jobs, going to school full-time, and playing at church on the weekends leaves little time for anything else. It was time for a change–time for rest. About a month ago I decided to stop playing music in church. Believe it or not, I decided you stop going to church altogether! I know, throw your stones if you want, but I have never been more at peace with myself than I am right now.
You see, busyness is part of life. It’s a part of life that–if we aren’t careful–can destroy happiness. It can deprive us of the beauty around us–cause us to miss out on the truly remarkable things in life. Do I have goals? Absolutely! Do I have dreams? Of course! But, when the windows of life get fogged up with the details, it’s hard to see where you’re going. Sometimes it is necessary to stop the car, roll down the windows, and appreciate what is right in front of us.
That’s what I’m doing–pressing pause so I can enjoy the things with which I have been blessed. Did you know I LOVE my job!? Did you know my piano students are super talented? Did you know that I actually look forward to going to work? Eliminating the stress for a season is good–necessary even. I encourage you to unplug at some point in your life. Maybe it’s not church. Maybe it’s something else–your job, school, sports, music, etc. Nothing is worth forfeiting peace.
For those of you who think I’ve fallen off the wagon–I have. The bandwagon, that is. Will I play in church again? Probably. Will I go back to church? Well, there’s a cute girl there so maybe I will. 😉 For now, I’m changing the status quo. I’m learning to simplify things. I’m learning to breathe. I hope you will, too.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” -E.F. Shumacher