I love to cook, and over the years, I have established a favorite ingredient.The lemon. Fresh lemon juice is used in almost every meal I make,whether I splash it on chicken, fish, vegetables, potatoes, sauces, salads,or desserts. The juice of a lemon can wake up and brighten the flavors ofalmost any food. However, my favorite thing to do is to simply squeezeand then drop a wedge into my water. Mmmm! So much more refreshingthan plain water, and I drink more of it.

One evening, though, I saw a lemon lying on the counter that I had used to flavor my broccoli. As I picked it up and examined it, I realized I had squeezed the life out of that lemon. The pulp was smashed to the sides, the fresh juice gone, and the only thing left was the bitter rind. Suddenly it dawned on me. I felt like that lemon! The busyness and craziness of managing my worlds and those of each of our four children, being involved in our church life and our interest groups, experiencing life with our extended family and our friends, had squeezed the life right out of me. I was nothing more than a shell of a lemon — insides smashed, bitterness resulting from our chosen lifestyle. I was accomplishing everything, yet yelling constantly at our kids to hurry up. I was angry at my husband frequently and didn't even really know why. But I didn't think I could stop this craziness we called our life. Getting pushed aside were exercise, hobbies, and reading (especially my quiet times) — the things that replenished me. If I did stop all the rushing, it meant I'd be letting someone down. Who would it be? My husband? Which of our four children? Besides, I was thinking that my "Mother of the Year" award was just around the corner, if only I could keep it up for a little while longer. (Yes, at times it was all about me.) So I sustained and perpetuated our insane rat race, all the while becoming an angry and bitter shell of a person, just like my squished lemon sitting on the counter. Are you feeling a little like a squeezed lemon, insides squished and dry, with nothing left but the bitter rind? If you do, keep reading, because there is an alternative.

Now rename the small group according to what you see and feel. How about "Another World to Manage"? The fault does not lie with the concept of smallness or with the people. The problem lies with orbit management. Most people confess to rushing from one world to a totally separate world of small group. In other words, the people in their small groups are not involved in any other group they manage. Very few small group members get together outside of the formal meeting date, not because there isn't a desire, but because there just isn't any time. While attempts are made, there is little chance the members of the small group can get their arms around your world or your arms around theirs. Their lives simply do not intersect anywhere except the small group meeting — and perhaps a quick hello at church on Sunday morning. We are simply not principal characters in each other's worlds.

If you haven't done so already, finish drawing your worlds, or add new ones that came to mind as you read. What are your thoughtsabout what you have drawn? If you're the average person, you'll be seeinga picture of stress. Take some time to give the right name to yourlife. How about "Lost in Space" or "Everybody Knows My Name, butNobody Knows Me" or "Planet Hopper" or "Space Shuttle Dweller"?How about a new name for your car such as "Cocoon on Wheels" or"Mobile Penitentiary Cell"? If we are going to experience real simplicity,if we are going to make room for life, these are the kinds of honestconfrontations with our existing lifestyles that we must have.

As you read the following pages and think through the implications for your life, be sure to formulate a list of action steps that will move you further from mere existence and closer to authentic living. My goal and passion are not just to see you exist in a life of crowded loneliness but to give you a vision for a new way of life — along with practical steps to get there. The ideas will be, I hope, easy to understand, but the implementation will take courage. But if you're like me and so many others I know, you are ready for a change.

 

ZONDERVAN
Real Simplicity
Copyright © 2011 by Rozanne and Randy Frazee
Formerly Making Room for Life
Copyright © 2003 by Randy Frazee
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Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530