Brooding On

Living with Perspective

One day, I was running a loop through town and found myself running past Eric and Bethany Richardson's house here in town.  At first glance, it may resemble other houses on the block, but the lives they live, bouncing between their home here and their work in Haiti are anything but ordinary.  I follow their work on the mission field through their website and pray for the work they are doing there.   I remember from my own experiences with missions how my short time spent in another culture changed the way I approached life back at home and wondered how Eric and Bethany navigate the divide between time spent on the third world mission field and time spent here in small town Arkansas. 

So, once I got home from my run, I decided to just ask her.  :)  Her response is absolutely touching.  Enjoy! 

When Eric and I wait to board our plane back in the United States, the butterflies won't go away. The thought of going back to our family, friends and home always makes me giddy. Unfortunately, the butterflies disappear as we step into the air conditioned airport in Miami and the culture shock sets in. Consumerism, impatience, technology, processed food in a minute or less... it always seems too much too soon

I'm thankful that when we're in the States we call the tiny town of Cave City, Arkansas home. Where the hills are soft, the air is clean and people are friendly. But even still, the culture shock of the country can even be unnerving after a few months in Haiti.

A lot of people ask us, "What's it like to transition back?"

It's not what you would think. We don't get home and continue eating rice and beans for every meal, riding around in a beat up rental car, living out of a suitcase and sweating without A/C. Not at all in fact. We love to go to our favorite restaurants and cook our favorite meals together at the house. We love riding around in Eric's hand-restored 1966 Mustang. We love to go out on dates, hang out with our friends, go to the movies. There are days where we barely leave the house because its so nice to sit in the A/C!

In truth, within the tangible realm of living simply, we consistently keep only a few practices that might qualify, including buying local veggies, supporting local businesses, cooking the majority of our own meals, repurposing items, and taking care of our land.

That's why when I asked Eric how he feels Haiti has changed our lives and it had nothing to do with the things above, I knew where he was coming from. "It's like the idea of living simply can come in many forms. For us, I think it's in our attitude, priorities and most of all, perspective. Haiti has given us a new way of looking at the world--a new paradigm." He is so right.

When our food is late at a restaurant, we don't yell at the waiter or ask for a refund. I can assure you the longest we've ever waited in America isn't half the time we typically wait for food in Haiti. - Patience.

When there is a rain-storm that ruins our bathroom due to a leaky ceiling, we renovate with gladness. The simple fact that we own a roof over our heads is stark in contrast to the needs we see in Haiti. - Gratitude.
When I look in the pantry and am tempted to say, "we have nothing to eat!" I try to still my tongue and get creative. I've seen the face of starvation and it is not a partially full pantry or a pant size 14. - Truth.

When we have been waiting at the airport for hours only to find out our plane has been cancelled, we try to stay patient and positive to those around us. There is no point in going through life angry, it could always be worse. - Kindness.
Our 1,000 sq. ft.  house seems more like a luxury apartment than the quaint, "small" home we first purchased almost 4 years ago. When we get home, we always purge the house of items we don't really need. Too much clutter around you brings about a cluttered life, right? - Giving.

When the electricity goes out, we laugh. For the majority of the time in Haiti, we live without power. Instead of getting angry, we enjoy the silence that it brings. - Joy.

Haiti has changed us in the simplest of ways, but also maybe in the deepest. Haiti continually gives us a new lens to view the world with each day. When facing challenging moments with a new world-perspective, the right decision is often made very clear. Sometimes it just takes looking through a lens of patience, gratitude or truth. Of kindness, giving, or joy. Other times it requires a lens of simple reality.
Living "simply" can mean different things to different people. For some people, its growing a garden and canning food for the winter. For others, it is sewing your own clothing or buying local. But sometimes, as it is with us, living simply can come from a change in attitude. It can mean focusing on the good things and looking for joy in every situation. Or, it can mean striving to live patiently, lovingly and with a lens of compassion.

We aren't perfect people, and some days we fail miserably. Some days I honk my horn a little too long at the person on their cell phone. Some days I want to pull my hair out when my "vegetarian" meal has fish in it. Other days it just seems too much of a bother to mess with being polite. But, we know that every day is a choice. We can either double down and root deeper into what we know is right and true, or give up completely.
And so I choose the harder path, that ultimately leads to a healthier life.

I choose to live with perspective.
So with that, I ask you : What do you choose? What does living simply mean to you?

Bethany, thank you, thank you for your beautifully crafted response and for your willingness to share this piece with me and the readers of this blog.  I've long wanted to introduce the concept of guest posts, and I can't imagine a better place to start than here.  Your perspective is both touching and challenging. Thank you.
To follow and/or support Bethany and Eric in their ministry, check out their website at