Of late, I am realizing how much I appreciate simplicity. Perhaps this “enlightenment” is a direct result of expecting our first child. We are overwhelmed with all the stuff that seems to be required for a new little person. Walking into Baby’s R Us leaves me wishing I could turn tail and run… out. Because of this, I feel like we have taken the minimalist approach to acquiring all this stuff. It makes us question just what exactly is necessary and what is extra baggage. In turn, all of this makes me think about other aspects of life.

What is absolutely necessary in this life? How can I lead a life of simplicity, yet still have an impact on the people around me? Does a simple life mean I should shut myself away in a cabin and live like a hermit? No, I don’t think so. Does it mean I should live with what I need and not what I want? Perhaps. Does simplicity mean a life of black and white? Or can we find simplicity hiding between the shades of gray?

I haven’t found the answers, but what I do know is that I am being challenged to live simply, yet fully. I also have been challenged of late to be bold in sharing aspects of my faith, especially with my patients. It is often a rule, in a public facility, to stay away from two topics: religion and politics. I agree, however I would argue that my faith is not religion – it is a way of life. For a while, I stayed away from all mention of God, prayer, church, etc… But, I can’t ignore that still small voice. A voice that I have missed, or ignored, in my busyness over the last few years. I have felt that nudge to tell someone that I will be praying for them as I care daily for their physical hurts (or emotional pains). And I find that even though I am shaking in my boots when I open my mouth to utter those words, I have the strength needed to carry that out.

Recently a patient gave me some of her roses (they had been given to her the last day I was working, but she was hoping to be discharged the next day) to thank me for the last few days. A certain trust had developed between us and I saw this as a true action of gratitude on her part. We had been talking over the period of days about her concerns and fears. We even celebrated together with all the “good news” as it trickled in! But I knew there was still one black cloud hanging over her head – one that I believe truly scared her in a deep way. So, after she gave me those flowers all I could think of saying (and I hope she heard my heart) was this: “I am going to take these home and put them in a vase. Every time I look at them I will pray for you.” I may always wonder what she thought of my comment, but it was something that I felt I had to say.

A few weeks ago, early on in my shift at work, I got a text message from my dad. And it is something I am not likely to forget soon. Let me share it with you.

“Just wanted to let you know that the Lord led me to pray this AM that you would be a blessing to someone today. That you would be a special blessing to a specific patient. Let me know if God reveals to you how you were a special blessing.”

I think of this almost daily when I am at work now because it is such a “backwards” way to look at my work. When I am frustrated and overwhelmed I look back on this text and instead of thinking,”how many hours are left?” I am able to think, “how can I be more compassionate and serve someone in hopes to bless them?” And I find that my life is altered! The days are still hard, but I have renewed purpose. Thank you, Dad, for challenging me in such a godly way.

I am not sure I know when I have blessed someone and I think that is OK. I don’t need to know. I just need to follow that still small voice when He speaks and know in my heart that God will use what I say and do in ways that I can’t imagine. If I don’t act on this, perhaps I am selfishly withholding something special for someone else.

I am not sure how simplicity and boldness fit together, but I do know that since I have been challenged to live more simply, I have been able to hear bits and pieces of God’s still small voice. And perhaps I am able to follow His direction more willingly.