Though God made us simple, we complicate ourselves

by | Apr 8, 2024 | Faith, Nature, Writing and Reading | 2 comments |

Walking outside around our mountain house this week, I think about God’s plan to complicate His creation with exquisite complexity. Redbud blossoms, Fothergilla blooms, purple asters and violets. The natural world presents an amazing array of intricacy, including humans. But God made us simple; it is we who complicate ourselves.

Complicate our Actions

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. 1 John 2:15

In the first half of life, we often define success by wealth, power, and prestige. He who dies with the most things wins. In other words, our values define our actions.

I chased those worldly qualities, too, during those years. Until I realized how I complicate my life in doing so. How I squeeze out God for love of things and other idols. 

When I love this world’s ways, my faith falters. But when I love God, decisions and actions become simple.

Complicate our Faith

For over three decades, I taught in private Catholic girls’ schools and attended Mass. During the Eucharistic, the priest would say, “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” Simple yet mysterious.

Because we are human, we complicate matters, as in this post about Macy Halford’s memoir regarding Oswald Chambers’ devotional My Utmost.The central issue of Halford’s memoir My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir is the “complicated nostalgia” Halford feels for the faith of her childhood. How could she reconcile her adult faith with a church whose policies she didn’t support? Why did others, so different ideologically, politically, and intellectually from her, love Oswald Chambers’ devotional as much as she did?

Unlike Halford, I did not grow up in the faith. But when I embraced the mystery, I felt similar complicated feelings: nostalgia for childhood, the messy breaking away. The growing apart in order to draw us together in faith.

Complicate our Relationships

God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things. Ecclesiastes 7:29 (MSG)

Last summer, an essay of mine was published by Please See Me, an online literary magazine about health narratives. In the essay, I wrote about how the loss of our beloved dog Heathcliff in 2021 helped me with two more complicated loses: my ex-husband in 2019 and my mother in 2020.

What did I discover while writing about loss and grief? Selfishness makes a mess of my actions and relationships; grace and mercy bring me back to the person I was created to be.

Simple as long as I don’t complicate myself.

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  1. bigskybuckeye

    Carole, I always appreciate all that you share. Since retiring, God has encouraged me to use my time better for some of his purposes in my life. My focus sees more through His lens.

    • Carole Duff

      Amen, Richard, amen!


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