Do you ever get the feeling that things are a lot more complicated than they should be? Kentucky has this problem. It’s called a traffic flow, and nobody seems to understand how it works. In my city, we have this hellish place called “Scottsville Road.” I never knew it when it was a simple two-lane country road, but when it had become the more massive five-laner, built up with shopping malls, big-name store chains, way too many restaurants, and an obnoxious amount of car dealerships. Good luck with rush hour traffic, let alone holiday traffic!
So, obviously, there are some problems with the road, one being that it’s only five lanes wide when it needs six or seven. That can’t exactly happen, though. You see, there are access roads all around it. Also, property developers got the bright idea to build out rather than up. Rather than making existing buildings taller, they just built more buildings around the area, occupying more ground space that could be used to increase traffic flow.
Schools let out, rush hour hits, and it’s game over for citizens of the strange town of Bowling Green. So much honking. So many obscenities. Things shouldn’t be that complicated actually are that complicated. But to be fair, they’re improving things! Connecting streets are being expanded as they intersect Scottsville Road, and an interchange was built at I-65 not too dreadfully long ago. Oh, and Natcher Parkway was extended, providing a much better means of exiting the city for rural community dwellers. Anyone who can survive this busy vein has bragging rights, undoubtedly. Let’s up the stakes. Anyone who can both survive it and keep their cool has bragging rights.
I find that we tend to apply the same attitudes toward complicated people. You know what I mean. That one dude you know who’s always thinking about something in some weird detail, who’s got a million things running around in his head. Talking to someone like this is like walking straight into Scottsville Road traffic during rush hour. You’re going to have a hard time crossing the road, let alone driving on it.
Admittedly, I’m a lot like that. I’m always turning something over in my head. Sometimes, thoughts cross each other so fast that they collide with each other, causing a bit of a traffic block, mentally speaking. Settling down enough to hold a basic conversation can be a task sometimes—that’s a kind way of saying it.
The more I’ve lived, the more I’ve realized that the layers to a person tend not to decrease but increase. Multi-layered people are often difficult to understand and to get to know. It can be hard to navigate a person in that sense. You can be in one lane, yet realize to follow the conversation, you need to be in a different one. Areas of a soul can become interlinked so that in order to arrive at your destination, you have to go through a few, maybe many different places inside a person.
It’s especially evident if those layers have developed in a way that doesn’t allow the mind to breathe, leaving it cluttered with thoughts, ideas trapped inside that should have been allowed to simply pass and go home. This is a complication not just for building relationships but for getting to know yourself. You’d think a person who lives in a place should be able to navigate his own city, right? What about navigating your own mind? How difficult it can be when you haven’t been constructed in a way that is conducive to functioning as a soul?
A certain pride can even be taken in that, in the sense that deep people are hard to come by these days. Being accessible only by the few with the skill or the nerve to break through the traffic. You know, people who might want to look into a career as a professional driver, like a cabby, or a racer, or a soldier driving a Humvee across enemy territory. But the soul was never meant to be like that.
That being said, a lot of times, these people don’t always realize what they’re doing. It isn’t that they intentionally shut people out all the time, but the simple fact that they are complex, and it is also hard for them to live above their own complexities, let alone trust other people with them. It is truly a double-edged sword.
How can a person remedy this? How can things change?
It’s simple, really.
Just… um… simplify things!
In case you’re wondering, I’m not saying, “Hey, people! Go burn a bunch of bridges and throw away as many parts of your life as possible!” No. Try not to do that.
I’m also not saying it’s easy. All sarcasm aside, simplifying what’s complicated is inherently neither easy nor simple despite the goal.
Actually, it’s a really awesome thing to actively find ways to slow down. Get all the traffic out of your head, then do some reconstruction. Heck, even if you do need to take out different roads to reroute them or replace them, and even if some bridges do have to come down, that’s okay. But it’s good to always be assessing the flow of your life. Thought patterns and routes that don’t allow you to thrive in the Lord will ultimately bottleneck your life and keep you from the beautiful plan He made for you.
The more complicated and cluttered things become in my world, and the more I struggle to keep up with that, the more I realize that God actually didn’t design us to be complex to our own doom. To counter that, the simplest thing we can do is acknowledge Him and surrender to His sovereignty. If we realize that the one who is ultimately in control is good, that can be a huge relief to our rush to get through every tough thought and feeling in our souls.
The more relief we can bring to the roads in our minds, the freer we are to expand and rebuild into the image God intended us to bear: His own. When we surrender to His will and His ways, we allow Him to show us where our minds should reroute or widen, or simply not reach when we build thoughts into sinful and harmful intentions. And the more He makes us like Him, the more able we are to accommodate our relationships with other people and with Him.
We don’t always have to worry about people tripping over our complexities, bumping into parts of us that hurt to think about even if they never meant to, being stuck or lost in the relationship so that it never grows. Things don’t have to be difficult.
Things can be made simpler even when they are clearly complicated. In order to do this, we must find one simple thing around which to build the roads of our lives, and a simple thing to come back to when we’re lost in the chaos. I think that’s Jesus’ love. How much simpler can it be?