I had plans to choose a word for the year. Much like my plans to have just one pot for cooking and one notebook at a time, it didn’t work. Life is too exciting and too complex. One idea is in conflict with another, and different parts of life call for unique strategies. That’s why my “word for the year” turned into two words. Simple Extravagance.
Simple extravagance. Living simply, but not sparingly. Being extravagant, but never complicated. Loving people and using things. Those are the things that I want to focus on this year.
Simple. Creating goals and plans that are not complex. Cooking simple, healthy meals. Doing exercise that works in a predictable routine. Keeping my schedule uncomplicated so I can be spontaneous without guilt. Finding a way to better manage some of my housekeeping chores. Trimming down my filing system so it is more helpful. Reducing the number of ways I communicate with people.
Simple. Just the word makes me take a deep breath and relax. It’s far too easy to make things complex, to spend energy chasing things instead of enjoying them. Complicated is a trap that lurks nearly everywhere: programs you can join, learning you can do, communities where you can engage, and a whole world of people you can track on social media. Then there are other countries, governments, conflicts, and economics that can make everyday decisions complex. “Keep it simple” is simply good advice and this year I hope to take it.
Extravagant. Extravagance makes me think of gourmet coffee, sunsets, and fancy hotels. It’s how I feel about a beautiful table set for dinner or a free afternoon. It speaks of spending resources on non-essentials because they bring joy. Sunsets always seem extravagant to me– we don’t need them, yet God paints them across the sky. Extravagance, done properly, is art and beauty. It is creating spaces that are healing and being people who are deeply rooted in God’s abundance.
Extravagance brings to mind the woman in the Bible with the alabaster box, pouring expensive oil on Jesus’s feet. It calls me to do things that are beyond my utilitarian tendencies, pouring life out on those around me. I am reminded to be present with the person in front of me instead of trying to multi-task. I am challenged to share love as though it is endless and spread joy as though it is unlimited. And I am humbled to think that I can also receive God’s extravagant grace and mercy in an endless stream.
These are my thoughts as 2018 begins. To live in simple extravagance this year. I’d love to hear what you are thinking as the year begins.