This or That: Simple versus easy

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simple versus easy, lightbulb inside thought bubble

Is everything that is simple easy? If you had to choose simple or easy, which would you choose? Are the two interchangeable? I maintain that in a contest of simple versus easy, I’d choose simple every time!

“It’s so easy a caveman can do it!” We’ve all seen the commercials and the countless memes floating around touting this logic. We apply it to so many things and use it to describe to others things we identify as such. Seems simple enough! Right? Ahhhh … simple! 

Easy. Simple. Are they really interchangeable? I’d say they’re both apples but I call one a Red Delicious while categorizing the other as a Granny Smith. They are the same type of fruit but leave a completely different taste in your mouth. Hear me out.

How do we define simple versus easy?

The word “easy” is defined as uncomplicated and not difficult, but it is also associated with words like tranquil and calm; the feeling of being at ease. We tend to assign it to tasks that we are capable of doing with little to no effort. What is easy to me may not be easy to you and vise versa. It really comes down to the individual and their skill level at any given thing. It is conditional. 

The word “simple” has a very similar definition and even uses the word “easy” as a synonym but it’s its other definition that I think gives it a different flavor. Plain, basic, without much decoration or ornamentation, that’s the part of the definition that sets “simple” apart from “easy.”  

We would probably all agree that 2+2=4 is pretty easy and simple. But what about 2x+5=15 or ax^2+bx+c=0? I personally find those easy as well but my son does NOT! I would say it isn’t simple anymore either. It’s a little less plain and a little more ornate with those letters and exponents involved. The little black dress, or LBD, is a perfect example. It can be dressed up with accessories but in and of itself it is simple. 

Simple versus easy — some things are one but not the other

I think right and wrong is simple but not easy. There is a toddler challenge going around on social media right now where parents set M&Ms out for their toddler and tell them they can’t touch them until mommy comes back from the potty. They have their phone set up to video them to see if they pass the test. Y’all, those babies understand what is being asked of them. It’s a prime example of simple versus easy. They know they aren’t supposed to touch the candy. It’s simple! Don’t do it! But is it easy? Heck no!!!

We all decide which rules/laws we are going to follow. The signs on the roads are clear about how fast we are allowed to drive. The Bible is pretty clear on what is pleasing to God and what is not, though we like to argue over it and add to and take away from it to suit our own agenda. These things are simple! They are not, however easy!

The challenge arises anew with each new day

When was the last time you drove the speed limit or didn’t give in to gluttony or gossip? Me? Well, I have good days and bad days just like anyone else. Some days the most simple things are the hardest for me to do. Some days the things that come easiest to me are the things that are the most dressed up and complicated, not simple at all. Some days I wouldn’t touch the M&Ms with a ten foot pole but then there are those days when I wouldn’t even be sorry for eating them.  Having trouble attacking a task? The solution isn’t some super detailed course of action. It’s simple! Just start! That’s the part that is hard though. It’s more simple versus easy.

Praise God for His grace and that His mercies are new every morning. We are called to follow His example and show grace and mercy to our neighbors. They are free to receive but costly to give. Friends, that is as simple as it comes, but oftentimes it is not even a little easy.

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