Modern life is complex, challenging, cluttered. We live with more stimulation and information coming at us than we can handle – and it never stops coming. A few years ago I had an experience that forced me to realize that I wanted a simpler, slower life. At that time, I was working a job with 24-7 responsibility for several departments at the hospital. I rarely enjoyed my time at work, and usually left exhausted and frustrated. Then, of course, when I wasn’t at work, the phone and email never stopped. Someone always needed something from me. Even the people I love the most felt like one more thing to do sometimes.
On Labor Day morning 3 years ago, I went out for a long bike ride. It was a beautiful day and the ride was fabulous! I was about a mile from home, cruising at top speed down a steep hill, when I was clipped by a truck going by. Apparently, I did an end over end – I don’t remember any of it to this day. A kind lady driving behind me saw what happened and stopped to help and called 911. I have almost no memory of the ambulance ride or my time in the ER. Suffice it to say – I was “really jacked up” according to the provider who took care of me.
I spent 3 nights in the hospital with multiple injuries including a head injury, a broken collarbone and 6 broken ribs. But I was alive. I have never been more thankful because I could have died that day, and nearly did.
That brush with death or serious disability woke me up to the fact that life is short. Any day could be the one that God calls me home. I began to question if the work I was doing and the way I was spending my time was any to live. I no longer wanted my work to consist of fighting with cranky and ungrateful physicians, nurses and administrators. I wondered if my work shouldn’t matter more to me and to the patients in my care. Yes – I am an RN by the way. Happy Nurse’s Week to all my fellow nurses!
One of the greatest lessons from the bike wreck was that no amount of money was worth the misery that my career had become. My husband and I decided that it was wise for me to go back to bedside nursing where I could take great care of my patients at work, and then go home and be done. Yes, it was a big cut in salary. I have never regretted it for a moment.
What I learned is I was spending huge amounts of my huge salary on stuff in an effort to calm my frantic, exhausted heart. The UPS guy and an Amazon box waiting on the porch were the best part of my day.
In the time since the wreck, I have been practicing simplicity more and more. I knew that it would be necessary to be frugal, spend less and find contentment in people and love instead of in stuff. And what a joyful relief it has been. Where I used to buy toys and stuff for the grandkids, now, I spend time with them. Where I used to race around exhausted, now I have time to read, think, pray, study the Bible and teach others.
Money or joy? I’ll take joy. The old saying money can’t buy happiness is true. The Bible says “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” Heb 13:5”
Contentment with less stuff is easy when you see what life is really all about. It’s simple. Love.