I confess that I am a chronic over thinker and over complicator of all things. To top it off, I am consistent at only one thing, being inconsistent. I am attempting to trade in delusions of grandeur for some classic simplicity. From this was born my life theme for 2017, simple consistency.
Simplicity Is Not Easy
The words “simple” and “easy” seem to be synonymous in their meanings. Simple is easy, straightforward, and uncomplicated, right? So why does the word “simple” have ten different definition entries on Webster.com? Definition entry number 5 has five sub-points of its own. It looks like I am not the only person in the world who can complicate things.
I have a very hard time keeping things simple. My mind often wanders down the path of “what if we tried this?” This path is littered with piles of suggestions wrapped in shiny paper and beautified with bows & garnishes that only advanced level pintrest gurus can accomplish. It looks so appealing in thought, but when opened in reality often is missing parts, lacking instructions or requires much assembly & the purchase of pricey add-on accessories.
Now, I am not saying that one should never stroll down the path of what if’s, but it is helpful to know what you are looking for before you begin that walk or to set boundaries in advance of how far you will want to go down the trail.
Once upon a time, my family invited a family of friends over for breakfast. Simple right? Breakfast is one of the easiest meals of the day. Sure. Unless you are me and have the ability to turn a casual breakfast into a morning feast for the legendary Paul Bunyan & his entire logging company. It starts with waffles and sausage, and then grows by piles of hash browns, eggs & bacon, until there are clouds of whipped cream, meadows of fresh fruit, rivers of juices and bouquets of sprinkles to top it all off with.
If I am truly honest, sometimes I really try to over do things so that people will know how much I love and care for them. If I can wow someone, or make something really memorable happen, then they will know just how great my affections are for them. That can become a quick distraction from the heart of simple moments together. It can also lead to unnecessary disappointment if it does not work out or wow like I thought it would.
When I try to anticipate every outcome, attend to every preference, meet every imagined desire and top it all with a little wow, simplicity is quickly left in the dust.
If I really want to remain simple, I have to be okay with the little I have to offer. I have to accept in my heart that my love for others can be measured in many ways, and to trust that wow moments can come from the little things in life. I admit that I need to not pour so much energy, effort and expense into preparing to please people.
I must say that there are rare moments where it is worth it to go all out. There are those few people of monumental importance in our lives to pour out with reckless abandon to on occasion. But then there are other times, like breakfast, where going overboard is probably not the best option.
Going overboard on a regular basis is just plain exhausting and expensive.
Consistency Counts in Large Amounts
Did you know a full grown female African elephant can weigh between 7,000 and 10,000 pounds? They eat only plants; grasses, leaves, fruits, vegetables, bark, twigs and roots. They eat from 200 to 600 pounds of food a day by spending 12 to 18 hours a day eating. All that consistent chomping equals one big elephant.
I know the food consumption of an elephant is a bit of an extreme example, but it really shows what kind of large impact consistency can make. Let me give you another extreme example.
If someone made a documentary about my morning workout this morning it would be titled The Ugliest Workout Ever. It would have everything to do with the results of being horribly inconsistent. Inconsistency with my portion sizes, inconsistency with what I eat & when, and inconsistency with when & how I move this body of mine. A little workout here, a little workout there, usually with several weeks in between.
It is not for a lack of knowledge. I know what to do and I know when I should do it. Knowledge is not my problem. I have had periods of incredible health and been in pretty good shape all after the birth of my two kids. Those were times when consistency paid off in large amounts. However, now I sit on my haunches cushioned with the pounds of consistently not working out.
So often when it comes to my health I set big goals in hopes of seeing immediate results. Crazy things like six weeks of one hour workouts, five times a week, all while only eating vegetables & chicken breast for every meal. Extreme yes, helpful no. Consistent? Certainly not in the long run.
My goal this year, get my body moving three times a week for thirty minutes each session. If I can give myself the gift of consistency, 90 minutes a week will add up to 4,680 minutes over the span of the year. I know a little bit will go a long way.
To help be consistent I have a bunch of work out videos, links on You Tube, and a good list of activity ideas for different seasons. My plan is to sit down each weekend and put my three activities into my calendar. I strategically placed the hardest one at the beginning of the week (for when I am well rested) and my favorite for the end of the week (when things have gotten chaotic & the week has begun wearing on me).
Today is Tuesday, my favorite day of the week. I’m also hoping that starting today helps with my motivation. So I got up this morning to face my first workout, which included things like bicycle crunches and standing mountain climbers. Not my favorites.
It was ugly. Perhaps even gruesome. I couldn’t seem to get anything to stretch to straight extension. There was plenty of wiggle and jiggle, it was more than my tummy moving like a bowl full of jelly. Grunts, groans and gasps filled the lower level of my house like there was a monster in the basement. But, as ugly as it was, I started and I finished.
Because the way I structured my week, at least in my mind, the worst is over. Now I am 1/3 through my efforts and I have taken a step on the path to consistency. I am moving in the right direction. It is my hope and prayer that keeping things simple will help me be more consistent.
It is also my hope that simple consistency will help in other areas of my life as well. Consistency with my family and work as an at home parent. Consistency in my devotional and prayer time. Consistency in my work to encourage with love, passion and enthusiasm. Consistency in PEP UP for Joy. Consistency in staying connected with friends.
Keep it Simple, Do it Often
This is my guiding rule for my theme. Keep it simple, do it often.
I love how the Bible is a living text and how the Spirit reveals beautiful new facets of meaning over time, even to such familiar passages. I cling pretty tightly to Hebrews 10:23-25. These verses penetrate deep into my heart and soul. I often refer to them as my life verses.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)
It was not until this morning that I realized the tones of consistency that ring through these verses. To hold unswervingly, steadfastly, consistently, to the hope we profess. Let us not give up meeting together, but let us be consistent with one another. Let us consider how we can encourage one another towards love to perform simple acts and good deeds.
Talk about a wow moment for me.
Clearly, when it comes to simple consistency, I need A LOT of work, but thankfully we have a perfect example we can follow; Jesus.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
The Lord is all definitions of consistency. He is steadfast, loyal, devoted, trustworthy, committed, reliable, dependable and faithful. This is just the start, a much more comprehensive list of these attributes of the Lord can be found in the Psalms.
Not only is the Lord consistent, He’s an incredibly big God who is able to wow through the simple. With five loaves and two fish, He can feed thousands. With a some dirt and spit, the blind can see. With a drink of water & conversation at the well shared by a wayward woman, a Messiah is made known. With a small group of simple fishermen, He can deliver a life giving message of hope and love to all corners of the world. Wow!
Simple Consistency for You
Are there any areas of your life that could use some simple consistency?
What would you like to see be different in those areas?
What would you have to do to make that happen?
How can you break it down into bite sized pieces that become manageable over the course of your week?
How can you adapt to meet the tendencies of your week?
Thank you for being faithful, steadfast, and consistent. Lord, we are grateful that You are unchanging, because on this side of Heaven, the winds of change blow pretty violently.
Lord, I confess that I have a penchant for making things more complicated than they need to be. Sometimes I even do it with the best intentions at heart, but I know that there are so many times where simple would be less stressful and more sweeter. I also confess that I am horribly inconsistent. So I ask that You would help me to stay on track, on a path with even footing and a reasonable pace.
For my treasured readers. I pray a blessing upon them. May they take great comfort in the simple joys in life. Please help them know that it is not always mega resolutions that are needed, but sometimes just some simple consistency to get the job done. Lord, whatever they are looking ahead towards, be it major life decisions, the undertaking of immense projects or just making it through one day at a time, please help them to feel secure in Your love so that they may have a fullness of life each breath they take.
In the simple and consistent name of Jesus, amen.