This post was written by Mallory K. Dignin, a staff member and writer for the independent newspaper Mennonite Weekly Review and its website. It serves Anabaptists — Amish, Brethren in Christ, Church of the Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites — internationally.
The Simple Life by Mallory K. Dignin
My housemates and I strive to live simply. We live on a modest budget to avoid pouring money into systems with values we don’t support. We take public transportation, rarely eat meat, line dry our clothes and try to grow some of our own produce in an attempt to care for the environment.
We hope that our commitment to simple living reflects our commitment to discipleship. As it is written in the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, “true faith means seeking first the reign of God in simplicity, rather than pursuing materialism.”
When a college friend told me about how she used diluted baking soda to wash her hair, I thought it sounded like a worthwhile addition to my simple living practices. Baking soda, also recommended as a substitute to harsh household cleaners, is cheap and earth-friendly. It would allow me to avoid shampoos, often packed with petroleum products and potentially harmful chemicals.
I used baking soda for eight months. And I hated it. I stuck with the practice, feeling guilty at the thought of abandoning one of the ways I tried to live simply. However, a recent lapse back to shampoo reminded me of how much quicker and easier it was. I gave up on the cheap and environmentally-sound baking soda.
Different aspects of simple living are easier for some people to adopt. I don’t really like meat, so being a vegetarian is no hassle for me. Some practices we take on are more difficult, but we should be willing to be challenged by the call to live simply. However, perhaps there is a need to find a balance. A non-joyful simple liver does little to promote a simple lifestyle. And a grumbling community member doesn’t add to a healthy, happy community.
How do we determine which sacrifices we should be willing to make and when we can opt for convenience? Is it permissible to take the convenient path if we have the privilege to do so? Are there any guidelines to follow when deciding how simply we should live?
Mallory brings up some interesting ideas about living a simpler life. What works for you? Thanks to Sherry Gore for sharing it with me!