When you get rid of the unimportant things in your life and begin to be willing to sacrifice your talents and time to serve and have community with others, you have an amazing transformation. Suddenly the smallest things become extremely meaningful. When you have a group of young kids chasing you countless times around the church building in Embonisweni, and then tackle you, you feel on top of the world. You feel like you would do anything for them, and that the world is worth changing for them. When they tackle you and you can feel their little beating hearts against yours, you want to make them know the Being that made those hearts. You want to not only make them know how much you love them, but how much infinitely more God loves them. You are changed by those beating hearts and the souls that they belong to. You could care less that as the kids tackle you and chase you, they are slobbering kisses all over you, that they are rubbing your clothes with the red African dirt. You feel so joyful and content, yet at the same time you are motivated to make Jesus and Hope known to them. You wouldn't trade this spot, this time, this memory for anything else in the world.
When your life is filled with days like this, one of your most valued possessions is a grass bracelet that a little girl, Lihle, made especially for you. When you get rid of distractions and focus on what you're passionate about in life and what actually matters to you deep down inside, you come home at the end of the day so exhausted and with nothing left to give. Yet somehow you wouldn't have it any other way. The days that I'm most happy are when my feet are so dirty that I can't get them clean, when I'm so tired all I can think of is sleep, and when I smell anything but pleasant. The days that I value the most are the ones when I choose to step out of my comfort zone and do something that I'm scared of doing. Then, after doing all of this, I get to eat a meal with some of my closest friends while watching a beautiful sunset. These are the same days that I have chosen joy, that I have chosen to do something that's completely out of my comfort zone. I'm most happy when I've simply chosen to get rid of the things that won't matter and to notice all of the things that do.
All of these things and these feelings aren't because I have found some great cause that is turning the world upside down. It's not because my life is full of a busy, hectic schedule. It's not because I volunteer and give away everything that I have or love. It's not because I'm a holy person. I believe that I love living this life because I've simply given it all to Jesus. My good parts, my bad parts, my strengths, my talents, my downfalls, my worries. I've given it all to Him, and so He has put a purpose into it all. He has allowed my eyes to change; He has let me see things from His perspective. I have realized how amazing life is, and that even the smallest events and details and stories of our lives hold so much value. Even though living in this broken world is extremely hard, it is worth the fight. LIFE IS A WONDERFUL THING, AND EVERY SINGLE DETAIL OF IT IS EXCRUCIATINGLY BEAUTIFUL. Yet I cannot help but notice that the majority of the people in this world do not see this imperfect beauty. They do not notice the small beating hearts, the grass bracelets, the wonderfully dirty toes, the flowers in the ditch alongside the rubble. They see the trudge, the drag of living. They are stressed, they are tied down by possessions and burdens. They are even being tied down by other people. They are not content. They are missing out.
Please don't be one of those people. Please sit down and simplify. Think about what ties you down. What has a hold over your heart and your mind that stops you from seeing the beauty in life? Untie yourself from those things! Sometimes all it takes is you deciding to get rid of the things that are blinding you. Other times you don't have the strength to do this on your own. You have to ask others, and ask God, to lift you up. To open your eyes. To get rid of your chains. To obliterate the distractions. To simplify your life. If need be, to live out of a suitcase for the next nine months. If you are willing to do this with the right heart, I guarantee that your life will be changed. Your and others' lives will never be the same once you are willing to lead this simple life.