The Celebration of Simplicity

Emily is working hard to learn to walk.  I watched my other two children learn to walk, and I see how Emily’s process is much more slow and intentional because of her delayed development with Trisomy 21.

But Emily is focused on her goal.  Probably a hundred times a day she practices standing up, balancing, attempting to get a new perspective on the world and then usually she lands on her bum. She is an excellent crawler and she speeds around the house, navigating all the things in her path. But anyone can tell that Emily is ready for a new perspective that is beyond shoes and ankles.

Shifting our perspectives takes intentionality and work.  One perspective that I am holding with prayer is how I view the needs of the world.  Like most of us, I am frequently overwhelmed by the great needs around the globe.  I find myself avoiding the news of another crisis and rushing past social media articles on another atrocity.

As I go about my daily life of work and caring for my family, I can feel paralyzed by the world’s injustice, violence and suffering. The complexity of issues that immerse us weighs me down and makes my heart heavy and my mind despairing. I want to hold the suffering that I am called to hold and do the work I am called to do.  But the complexity and need are overwhelming. I feel like I cannot do anything to change the injustice so I want to shut it out and not think about it. How do I move forward and keep my center with compassion and advocacy when the world around me is disorienting and overwhelming?

The Word Made Flesh community has given me a great gift of perspective.  The celebration of simplicity reminds me that the way of Christ is simple, not overwhelming. The perspective of Christ is freedom, not paralyzation. The practice of simplicity reminds me that Christ’s work is with those who experience poverty, suffering and abuse. Christ holds all the suffering and all the hope of the world in his hands. When I practice the celebration of simplicity, I recognize that I am small, finite and human.  I put my trust in Christ and do not have to carry the injustice myself.

When my perspective shifts from me having to carry and hold the suffering of the world to trusting Jesus with the suffering, I find my center again.  Like Emily, I experience a new perspective.  I am freed to do the work that I am called to with simplicity and focus and great intention.  Instead of my perspective being everything I am not doing or cannot be, I lean more deeply into the simple way of Christ who allows me partnership in doing justice as an act of grace, not a heavy burden.

I am learning to walk.  Slowly, with intention, I find my feet and my balance as I move forward in a complex world with a simple trust in Jesus.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

From A Future Not Our Own
A poem written in tribute to Oscar Romero

ABOUT SARAH:

Dr. Sarah Thomas Baldwin is a graduate of Asbury University, Asbury Seminary with a Masters of Divinity and George Fox Evangelical Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry in Leadership & Culture.

Sarah has a calling to prepare students to serve Christ by being people of influence and transformation in their families, communities and churches for the sake of those who are most vulnerable. Sarah serves at Asbury University as the Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students. Her passion is wholeness and holiness in leadership and formation. Sarah preaches and teaches often as part of her ministry and leadership.  Sarah is married to Clint Baldwin. They have three children, Madi, a junior in college, Kai, age 6 and Emily who is almost 2.

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