Have you ever had a season of life when you needed desperately to “Keep it Simple”? I’m convinced, if I hadn’t gone through one of the most challenging seasons of my life, the thought of simplicity might never have crossed my mind, and the mind is where our battles often rage.
In 1986, the year I began to draw a sober breath, I heard the now-familiar catchphrase, K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple Stupid.
It’s not like I could just quit drinking and not find something to fill the void. Chances were, I’d fill the void with something. Not wanting the insanity of any other addiction, I became determined to fill-up on the truth, and I was hearing a ton of it at 12 Step meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and AlAnon.
The simplicity of The Serenity Prayer really worked for me:
GOD, grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change; COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.
At first though, in listening to how others in the meeting rooms approached working those puzzling 12 steps, I complicated things. Did I need to understand/work/integrate Steps One, Two, and Three; make a chart; fill a notebook; or make some kind of mature decisions before completing all 12? Revelation number one: I could apply one of the slogans they kept referring to.
I could simply “Let Go and Let God.”
In other words, let my Creator direct the process in my mind and heart.
I already had faith, though somewhat shaky. Guilt, unresolved anger and grief, topped with resentments, were floating around my as-of-yet, unrecovered and murky psyche. Could I simply purposefully let go of any expectations where my grasp of the steps was concerned? It kind of let me off the hook. But I’m here to testify, after 32 years of sobriety, the truths for me began the day I decided to simply let go, and to allow the understanding of my recovery to unfold naturally.
I’d heard it said that stopping drinking was one thing; recovering was another. Oh, so it’s not that simple? Paradoxically, when an alcoholic is unable to keep things simple, and begins to complicate his or her sobriety, they may very well get drunk again, or go crazy in the process. And that’s not hyperbole.
In a way, embracing simplicity is what Jesus described when He taught us to look at the children.
When in Mark 10:15, He states, “I tell you the truth: anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The Greek word for “receive,” literally means to take with the hand, to take hold of, and to embrace. One of the dearest pictures of a trusting child is when they reach for your hand.
With our three granddaughters, ages 7, 6 and 2, holding onto their hand feels like finding a missing puzzle piece and locking it in. I treasure the way the little ones help me keep it simple.
- We make up stories to tell each other.
- We color with crayons.
- We make messes we clean up later.
- We walk down to the lake, watch the ducks and count the turtles.
When it comes to simplicity, Jesus is the master. He “is, was, and always will be…”
Fulfilling our God-given potential has little to do with greatness; performing ordinary, everyday tasks becomes meaningful.
I’ll leave you with the words of my hero, the wise young writer, Anne Frank.