I love it when things are supposed to be effortless. Well, at least they look effortless– a sort of “laid-back,” easy-going, casual, “I took no time to do this such-n-such a thing.” I think you know what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, I like it that effortless seems to be “in.” It sounds much better than, lets see, “difficult” being “in,” or fussy, stiff and unapproachable. No, I don’t think that would go over well.
Living the Effortless Life
A few years back during prom and wedding season my hair stylist and I had a discussion about what was “in” for up-dos. She said, “You know, they are suppose to look more natural, as if the girl put little effort into it, kind of messy, like she just got out of bed. Yet in reality, she put out a lot of money and I took a lot of time to make it look like she just got out of bed.” I wouldn’t mind having some effortless hair though– no washing, styling, graying or hair products. My husband tells me that is called, “bald.”
A recent trip to Round Top, Texas got me thinking about all this. Recently, my friend had to cancel at the last minute for our trip to the Round Top antique shows. She was not so happy about it. And if you have been there before you can understand why. So, I found myself in Round Top for sort of a day vacation– as I put aside the dailiness of life and escaped into the wonderland of decor, creativity, and junk made good. It is a place you can buy something like this bench and create extra seating. My son wonders when I will fix it up.
My eye landed on a coffee table that was oval, painted and slightly distressed. It was also a good price and a good replacement for the one which cracked a leg–the result of having four boys. I loved the “lines” of the table, and it had that comfortable, “don’t worry about me,” lived in look with just the right amount of distressing. It also was fairly effortless for the seller as I handed him over some cash and loaded it into my van. The man I bought it from wasn’t sure how old it was, or where he hauled it from orginally. He did share with me his paint and distressing technique, which he had perfected over years of experience. Junk made new– the result, an effortless looking table!
Cooking has also appeared more effortless (which is something I desperately need), as attractive women blanch asparagus, pinch sea salt, or whip cream, and bloggers share easy recipes with professional-like photos with life commentary included. It makes me want to whip it up right then. I am always a fan of the effortless, when it comes to the kitchen.
Effortless in Social Media
As I scan social media, I find lots of effortless living. Life for others often appears light, carefree, vacation-filled, and undemanding. The cute Pinterest ideas seem to make everything so fun and simple. Life out there is easy, and almost a click away! Even selfies seem so– effortless. Yet, I don’t seem to have the selfie talent!
But, as I scan social media, I can begin to believe that what I see is “real,” the likes affirm reality and every link is important. Soon comparison and envy set in. Is there a scam going on?
Effortless is not always Easy
Of course, probably like you, I am not totally fooled by all this effortless living. In reality, I know much thought, time and work is exerted to make the outfit, hair, furniture, event or whatever to “appear” effortless. I get that. I am not a fan of “fussy” either. There are more important things going on in the world than matching my shoes to the color of my dress (think of the 80’s and 90’s, when many of us had assorted dyed pumps to match our various bridesmaid’s dresses.) or scanning Pinterest for the perfect idea. I want “real,” not contrived or phony. Yet, I do prefer things to be comfortable, warm, and welcoming– the effortless feeling!
Effortless can be Disappointing
Even the simple and mundane things don’t always turn out for me. My hair needs “products,” my jeans go out of style, my painting project is not quite right, my pie is soupy and the kind of event that looks so great actually takes money and time! I become disappointed with effortless.
Easy not Effortless
Really what I want, if I am honest, is easy, undemanding and painless. I want to be carefree in New York like the Instagram photo. I want the likes for my post. I want a vacation with a cup of coffee in hand. Those ladies at Round Top walking around in their Palazzo pants, tanks, and Raybans, while drinking a beer and talking treasures– look so effortless. Their life looks easy, carefree and painless. That’s what I think I want.
I know that what I see is not everything there really is. The problem is this: if I search for the effortless life- if this is really what I want or seek after– a life of ease, to just “be happy,” to do what makes me feel good– then I will be sadly disappointed. I naturally begin to think life is about being happy, having more and more, finding the cutest Pinterest idea, a more comfortable house, or a more adequate income to make an easy life. I need to stop, for daily I am tricked by social media, the world I walk in, and just by being, “me.” If I want a life of value, significance and meaning– then I must daily come to a better example.
The Emptied life not the Effortless life
I read this in Philippians the other day:
Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
His emptied life: this is our example.
True life costs something. It is not found in the easy, but in the emptying. Very few things in life are effortless. Even our redemption came with a price. Jesus emptied Himself and gave His life for ours.
Of course, we have no selfies of Jesus. What we have is a reminder of His life and death and resurrection. His life now is in me. My life is identified with Him. Life is now found in the emptied life, not in the effortless life.