Looking around, I see a frenzy of striving, discontentment and needing more. Lately, I’ve been considering what it would mean to “make it my ambition to lead a quiet life, minding my own business and working with my hands.” (1 thes 4:11-12). I’m struck by the word ambition. Isn’t ambition loud? Doesn’t ambition beg to be seen and heard and noticed? Our culture ties ambition with money, fame, and worldly success. Yet God ties ambition to his own vision of success. A quiet life. Tending to what we have with contentment and joy. Working with our hands. Staying in our lane, unoffended by the choices those around us are making.
As I push to lead a quiet life here are some changes that naturally came to be in my life.
- I stopped ordering my groceries online – this is hilarious, yet huge for me. I couldn’t stand grocery shopping. I would feel overwhelmed and tense the entire time. For a long time I outsourced my shopping. And it served me well in my season as a brand new mom. But as I slow down my pace I find a lot of joy in a grocery ritual. Every Friday, I load my kids into the car and we head to Trader Joes. It takes us 20 minutes to get there. We listen to music and roll our windows down. Once there we linger at the front choosing fresh flowers. I let Judah choose fruit and snacks and vegetables that he loves for the week. We pick up pizza dough and sauce for our Friday night pizza tradition. And after about 20 minutes of shopping we load up our car and walk to the pastry shop next door. I order an iced latte and Judah picks the same donuts for him and Shiloh each week; a cinnamon sugar twist that looks like a “unicorn’s head” in his humble opinion. When I was racing through life I didn’t feel like I had this hour and a half in my week. Grocery shopping felt like a chore that was beneath my pay grade.
- I began making all of our meals at home – I never felt like I was good at cooking, so I just didn’t cook. When I was pregnant with Judah a desire to nourish my family well surfaced in me. After three years of trial and error I’ve finally found the food philosophy my family clings to and I enjoy making our meals each day. I wrote an entire post about the purpose of a family meal that you can read here. Focusing on food has been a direct result of practicing slow living. As you slow down your life, get rid of what doesn’t serve you, realign with what is important you’ll find it hard to continue down a path of take out and fast food. Food serves the purpose of nourishment, connection, rest and celebration. So many valuable virtues become part of our day to day through meals.
- Moving my body stopped being a chore – after years of being a competitive athlete I found myself at a place where I was finding a lot of joy in rest and less joy in moving my body. When my career was up I just wanted to soak in not being expected to be in the weight room at 6am. Add in having two babies and moving/using my body in completely different ways I just always felt exhausted and in need of rest. I’m currently finding rest in the movement of my body. Rest in a walk around the neighborhood, collecting pine cones with my babies. Rest in stretching. Rest in weight lifting. Rest in a Pelaton ride alone at the end of a busy day.
- I let go of my house cleaner – a month before my second baby was born I got so tired of trying to scrub the tub with my huge belly in my way. I hired a house cleaner. She came every other week for a year. After decluttering my house I decided I had time to clean myself. Now I have a designated day for each room in our house with a list of ways to tend to it. I spend as much time as I have on each space, knowing if it’s not perfect I can pick up where I left off in a week. Allowing my kids to help, turning on a podcast, watching a show in the background. These are simple ways I find joy in tending to my house each day.
I’ve found that our world is trying to sell us convenience and entertainment. Both are expensive, causing us to spend more and more time working. We wonder: how can I most efficiently and quickly get to the “good stuff”? The Netflix binge, the vacation, the massage, the “next big thing”. But what if that’s not even the good stuff? What if slowly tending to our home is where happiness is found? What if vacuuming the floor, making the bed, preparing the meal, reading to your babies, all of the tasks that someone has created a product or service to replace you with is the good, simple life. What if we made it our ambition to live a quiet life? Using our own hands? Building our own homes? In my experience my days have become more meaningful and I’m finding joy and contentment right where I am.