When Simplicity Gets Complicated

Simplicity is awesome.

Let me start by saying that minimalism has changed my life for the better.

I’m less stressed out since I simplified.

But sometimes the simple life comes with complications.

I don’t think simplicity is the answer to all of life’s problems.

Minimalism is not without some drawbacks.

Even after achieving my simplicity goals, I was left with a void.

I used to be stressed and overbooked.

I changed a lot.

I started saying no to things.

I intentionally carved out time and space.

But what do I do now that I have time?

That’s the question I’ve been facing recently. 

Am I doing enough?

Am I enough? 

All I feel is empty.

Is simplicity really the answer?


Some people retire early only to realize that they are bored…or even depressed.
They’ve achieved financial freedom, but they don’t know how to deal with all that free time.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful here. I know that minimalism and the ability to stay home with my kids is an immense privilege.

But maybe it’s possible to feel both grateful and confused.

Both empty…and guilty about feeling empty…

I’ve said it before that laying on guilt is like pouring salt in the already raw, open wounds.

Because even the elite, the rich, and the privileged can struggle with depression.

So yes, I’m aware of the irony here.

But I think it’s worth exploring.

Why do so many people who seem to have it all together on the outside struggle mentally?

Many of us don’t actually know how to just be.

How to find fulfillment and purpose outside of paid work.

I’m in that boat right now.

It’s something that I know other stay at home mothers struggle with.

The quarter life crisis.

The middle life crisis.

It has different names, but I think it all boils down to the same core issues.

Chasing the dream can be more exciting than actually achieving the dream.

I wanted to quit my job and have kids.

But what do I do now that I’m here?

It is hard to not be productive.

Hard to not have something bigger to strive for.

I feel the need to be challenged.

It’s often easier to be working toward a goal than to settle down, having achieved that goal.

I’ve been searching for a project to work on or a new endeavor on which to embark.

I no longer feel the need to prove myself, but I do feel the need to challenge myself.

In a way life is simpler now than it has ever been. 

I don’t need to shuttle my kids to and from school. 

I can walk to my church, my library, my grocery store. 

I can order anything else I need online and it’s delivered in a couple days. 

Never has life been simpler. 

Yet at times I feel empty inside.

This free time that I intentionally carved out for myself is creating an impenetrable void. 

My brain doesn’t stop. 

I could do anything.

What should I do?

There are so many possibilities. 

What do I really want out of life?

I could go back to school. 

I could start my own business.

I could join a team or club.

I could pursue videography more. 

I go through phases where I’m really excited about one thing and do only that, but then I get bored with it. 

Every time there’s a new passion, I wonder if it’s just another phase. 

I’m a pendulum swinging too far between overwhelmed and bored. 

Between peopled out and lonely. 

Whatever happened to balance? 

To contentment?

To peace?

To rhythm?

I just can’t find that sweet spot. 

I’m afraid to do anything because I’m afraid of taking on the stress. 

I love that my life is essentially free of stress but I desire to be challenged. 

Then God showed me something:

All I’m thinking about here is myself. 

I’m trying to find fulfillment in what I do.

In goals.

Achievements. 

Dreams. 

What if God wants me to find fulfillment in him?

In his plan, not my plan. 

In what will bring him glory not what will bring me fulfillment. 

What if I’m over thinking it? 

What if all he’s really asking me to do is just show up? 

Here am I, lord. Send me. 

What would you have me do today?

Who am I supposed to encourage today?

 How can I take the focus off of me today and focus on someone else? 

Maybe that’s the beauty of simplicity. 

Of flexibility. 

Of margins. 

It’s not meant to be filled with busyness. 

It’s not meant to be filled with nothing. 

It’s meant to be filled with relationships. 

Time to focus less and me and my quest for fulfillment. 

Time to put away the bucket list and the dream list – at least for now. 

Time to start asking other people how their day is going. 

Time to start listening without forming my own responses in my mind. 

I was intentional about simplicity and I pretty much achieved it. 

Now let’s fill the void with something meaningful. 

Something authentic: Relationships. 

Relationships will never be simple because people are complicated and messy. 

But they are beautiful. 

They are what I want to spend my hard-earned simplicity on. 

Relationships in exchange for simplicity. 

Trading one for the other. 

I have margins in which to be spontaneous and time to give to those who need it. 

I don’t need more shallow “surface” friendships. 

I crave to carve out and deepen the relationships I have. 

To craft the community of my dreams will happen slowly, one person at a time. 

The simple life can be complicated.

You can work and dream for free space like I did, and then not know what to do with your freedom.

You can carve out time, quit your job, say no to obligations, and still feel stuck in monotony.

Free time, free space, and financial freedom don’t in themselves equal purpose.

Maybe I’m supposed to give of myself not just better myself.

Maybe simplicity isn’t the answer to everything.

Maybe all this time, simplicity was pointing me toward quality relationships. 


The best way to experience nothing is to keep looking into yourself. But the more you are able to look outward and forget about yourself, the more you can be changed by God.

J. Heinrich Arnold, Discipleship

Can you relate? How has your journey toward minimalism and simplicity changed your view of the world and relationships? How do you find purpose in those margins you created? Volunteering? Visiting shut-ins? I’m interested to hear other stories of simplicity turned into larger passions.

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