Simplicity – A Simple Word That Can Teach So Much
I remember my first year teaching in the public school system. I accepted a full-time job as an English as a Second Language Assistant in my hometown fresh out of college. The population of English language learners grew exponentially in our small town over the recent years, so our school system suddenly scrambled to meet their needs by hiring an assistant for each campus to work specifically with those students in small groups. I traveled to four different schools within the week, and each school literally gave me a closet to work out of.
The ESL program provided me with a test to show the students’ level of English proficiency, a set of workbooks to find lessons to cater to their level, and a blank journal for each child.
I learned how to teach creatively. With little to no materials and barely a single resource, but I loved it. I made up my own lessons according to each child’s needs and built genuine relationships with my students that still continue today, almost twenty years later.
Now I teach full-time in another state in a classroom crammed full of materials that I’ll never have time to use. Nor do I have the space to store them in an organized way. My best teaching comes out towards the end of the year when most of the materials have been used up and my classroom finally starts to clear out. I can breathe. I can move. I can keep things organized. I get creative with our diminishing supplies, and we have so much more fun. And not surprisingly, the kids learn more.
I also remember those first years of marriage when money and resources were so scarce we could barely survive. But we did survive, and I almost miss that sacred time of learning to make do with less and still enjoy ourselves. A fun weekend meant going to a friend’s house to stay up late playing games or hanging out at a coffee shop with a deck of cards and a warm drink.
Foreign Exchange Student
I will never forget living as a foreign exchange student in Argentina, embracing the simplicity of life and relationships. If a friend dropped by unannounced, my host mom would drop whatever she was doing, heat up some water, and serve mate (a tea-like drink) to her visitor while they sat and talked for the next hour or two. The home filled with warmth and laughter, and the chores waited.
Nor can I forget traveling with one of the missionaries in Argentina to visit a church in the neighboring country of Uruguay. We stayed with a young family who seemed poorer than any family I’d ever met in my life, yet they shared their home and food with us, and more importantly, their hearts. They demonstrated such incredible hospitality, and I left feeling like I’d just met one of the richest families in the world.
God blesses their simplicity
I admire those who live simply and crave the inner joy their simplicity brings them. They not only live off of very little, but they give generously out of the little that they have. Relationships and hospitality make them rich, and I believe God blesses their simplicity with many more spiritual blessings than we are even accustomed to receiving here in our overextended, frenzied, always-striving-for-more lives in America.
Stress and Greed
Generosity fills us with joy
The next time I find myself needing or wanting one more thing in this life, maybe I should ask myself what I already have that I can freely share with others instead. More accumulation brings stress and greed, while generosity fills us with joy, knowing we have more than enough to share.