Imagine with me...
The hustle and bustle of a small, downtown, inner city street swirls about you. Men, women and children are enthusiastically perusing the treasures of the Saturday morning market.
Everything is as it should be, couples holding hands, mothers calling after runaway children and the occasional haggle between a shop owner and his buyer.
It is there on the sunbathed, cobblestone walkway that you reflect on just how long its been since you found yourself at the markets. You’ve run into quite a lot of time to yourself recently... a by-product of your recent breakup.
It didn’t however end as you may have supposed – considering you two had an interesting and exceedingly awkward run in with a waiter on your first date... also you suspected him to have had bad parenting due to the unkosher way he held his knife (which you later discovered was actually due to a tennis injury he sustained the day before your dinner together and was in fact not a point of major concern).
It turns out things just weren’t a good fit and that going your separate ways was probably the best option. Not an easy call to make, but a necessary one nonetheless!
Getting things straight!
The journey of getting over him, of course, began at the Christian bookshop–singleness is a season of becoming your best self... That’s what they say anyway.
You purchased a stack of books with blurbs full of Christianese hit words about spirituality,theology and modesty.
Many coffees and a lot of content later, you seemed more certain of your views on life - and yet, increasingly unsure of how you were going to live up to the new standards brought by them.
How can I possibly be any more spiritual? Surely it can’t be sinning to wear a mini-skirt? Can I accidentally blaspheme without even realising it?
Gosh if I’m ever going to get this right, I’m going to have to join a convent!
And that’s how you ended up here
Having scrupulously soul searched for quite some time now you needed a break from your own head!That’s why you came out to the market – free from your thoughts, questions and agenda items.
Just you and the tasty chocolate croissant in your hand.
And that’s when you bumped into him. Literally.
“Oh I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you there!” This happens more often then you’d like to admit; it’s a bit of a daydreamer thing.
A man with dreads and a full body of tattoos.
“No worries at all,” the man responded with a genuine kindness that surprised you, “I think you dropped this in the collision.” He said picking up a lip gloss that must’ve fallen out of your bag.
“Thanks, I uh...” You try to read the name of the rock band on his crumpled T-Shirt, “I’m so sorry about that really.”
“Don’t be... uh?”
“Well it’s nice to meet you Anna, I’m Nick. Actually, I have a pop-up barber shop that’s here at the markets today. We do free haircuts for anyone who needs them – it can be a real help for lower income folks. So if you’d ever like to drop by you’re welcome.”
Oh, how incredible. Something like that would’ve been helpful while I was in college.
“How do you do that? Afford to have a space down here at the market and pay your staff if all the cuts are for free?”
“Well, were actually an all-volunteer group and the market lets us set up shop for free. We’re here honestly just to love people like Christ does, that’s all.”
“You’re a Christian!”
“Yep! Haha! I’m guessing you must be too” A little grin crossed his face.
Wow! Totally didn’t expect that – guess I need to think about how I judge a character.
Getting things off your chest
You may have come to the market to get your faith questions off your mind, but something inside you was saying that this man may have the answers. And, you’ll never see him again anyway so it wouldn’t matter if he thought you were crazy!
Honestly you just need someone to talk to about it!
“Can I ask you something?”
“How do you do all the Christian stuff? I mean, I pray and try to be as righteous as I can but if I’m honest, there’s just so much I don’t understand. I feel like I’m constantly failing to live up to the life that people say I’m supposed to live!”
He smiles again understandingly.
“And, I read the Bible, but there’s so many things that seem so mysterious, I don’t know how I’m supposed to comprehend it all!”
“Well,” he replies, full of grace and compassion, “it seems like you’ve had quite a lot on your mind recently. You know, I think that faith is really simple and practical. You love God and you love people and that’s it. It’s about knowing God and living life with people.”
“But do I need to be, I don’t know, interceding more to live a fruitful life?”
“I think that we can sometimes fall into a trap as Christians, dividing what we think is sacred from what we believe to be secular. I think its not really like that. God’s just as interested in our humanness as He is in our spirituality. That means that interceding is important, and so it playing sport and so is seeing your friends. He’s the God who delighted to make it all.”
Something about what he said reminded you of the jazzy restaurant you had visited a few months earlier.
You blurt the sentence: “So you’re saying that I need to become a better KISSer!”
The tattooed man stood there in shock. You realise that your sentence did not just mean to him what it had meant to you!
“Oh no! What I mean to say is not that I need to kiss people better,” you could feel your cheeks beginning to flush, “I meant that I should K.I.S.S better. Keep it simple stupid... Its an acronym that I think would probably apply to my faith quite well here.”
Letting out a chuckle and with a glimmer in his eyes he responds, “Yes, that is exactly what I was trying to say.”
How does this story apply?
In my own life and many others’, I sometimes find that we can over complicate our faith and as a result loose sight of the bigger picture.
Like Anna, we get caught up on relatively small matters, which may often be of little importance, and then get so worked up over them that we forget what life with God is all about: communion.
My dad once explained it to me:
“Lucy, imagine you’re painting a huge painting of a beach, a scene with beautiful blues, greens and incredible beauty. It makes no sense for you to spend all of your time getting honing into the tiny shell in the corner, getting itjust right, and forgetting the entire rest of the picture!”
Jesus shows us how to focus on the big picture when he explains which commandments are the greatest, and how they sum up all others, in Matthew twenty-two, thirty-six through forty:
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Focusing on the bigger picture is not to say that the nitty-gritty parts of our faith are not important, of course they are! But we must see them as a smaller cog in the bigger picture.
Anna, for example, wonders how much she should be interceding. But she misses the point; interceding (as are other spiritual disciplines) is important but again it’s not the main event, but rather an expression of the main event: love God and love others.
A practical God
Nick also points out to Anna in the story that we can get caught up in being overly spiritual and forget that God intends for us also to be very practical with our faith. Loving people and showing honour to God in a very hands-on way.
That is a true expression of God’s kingdom.
Its important to remember that God intended for us to be spiritual and physical beings, one is not greater than the other but rather both are God’s good creation. This realisation can free us up to enjoy the blessings God has given us as we see those as important, alongside our spiritual lives.
In the vein of keeping things simple, that’s all I have to say about the matter.
Keep it Simple Stupid!
Lucy Miles can often be found singing or dancing her way through any one particular moment. Such joyous expression is brought forth from her love of the Lord, learning and people. She currently lives in Switzerland and is enrolled in a Ministry and Leadership Development School with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and is excited to step into a staff role in January of next year.