The other night, I was sitting with my husband on a shaded patio in the hot Texas evening. Oscillating fans stirred the air around us and covered us with a light, cool mist as we sipped frozen margaritas and chatted.
We were on a much-needed date—it had been far too long. I commented on that fact out loud as we sipped, and he agreed, then added, “Lately it seems like we say that every time we go out.”
“We say what? That it’s been too long?”
I nodded in agreement. “Yeah.”
There have been seasons in our marriage when we stuck to a near-religious schedule for our date nights, sacred both on our calendar and in our budget. In other seasons, things are more chaotic. We’re definitely in a chaotic season right now.
I licked the salt on the rim of my glass and took another sip. I could feel beads of sweat running down my back, despite the shade and the misting fans. Texas summer is no joke.
“It’s also been too long since I’ve written anything,” I said.
“I know,” he said pointedly, eyebrows raised.
“Well, I have a post due for the Art of Simple next week, but I don’t know what to write about. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything, I don’t even know if I remember how. But also, how the heck can I write about simple living when our life is so complicated?”
Shaun smiled at me across the table. “That’s what you write about.”
“What do you mean?”
He repeated, “That’s what you write about. How can you write about simple living when your life isn’t simple?”
I stared blankly at him for a moment, then began to nod. Okay. I think I get it.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the past year has been the very hardest one of our family life. Since last September, we’ve walked through at least seven or eight separate circumstances that each, on their own, could be considered anywhere from stressful at the least, to devastating at the worst.
It’s like this: have you ever been playing in the ocean and gotten knocked over by a wave that you didn’t see coming? You’re tossed and tumbled in the wave…you can feel its pressure and its pull washing over you and holding you down as you fight to figure out which way is up, to get your feet back underneath you, and get your head above water.
And just as you finally emerge to draw a breath and wipe the saltwater from your stinging eyes, what happens? The next wave comes along and knocks you off your feet again.
That’s what the past year has felt like—over and over and over. We all go through seasons of chaos, seasons of peace, and everything in between. Our circumstances are much better now, thank God. But after a year like ours, there is no getting “back to normal.” We have to find new normals.
And we’re still getting there. Things are still more complicated than I would prefer. And I’m not really sure when—or if—that will change. I’m trying to figure out how to make peace with that, and still continue to “live simply, so that others may simply live,” as we say here at the AoS.
So I don’t have any words of wisdom today.
Sometimes, life isn’t simple. How can I write about simple living when my life isn’t simple? All I can really do is tell my story, listen to yours, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other and encourage you to do the same.
If you’re in a hard, complicated, decidedly non-simple place in your life, know that you’re not alone. If I could, I’d sit with you and we could share a cup of coffee—or some frozen margaritas if you prefer. Salted rims optional.