One thing that professors kept telling us at university was that our generation was plagued by entitlement issues. At the time I felt that I could see what they meant, and I disliked that truth. And yet, it wasn’t until a trip back stateside this December that I began to see the depth of this issue, including in my own life, and had some personal insights into its root.
The most significant moment of reverse culture shock I felt during our three weeks in the US was a trip to a SuperTarget store. For the last year on the field I’ve gotten used to needing to schedule at least a couple of hours to run errands (much longer if a hard rain hits), and I need to be prepared for the high likelihood that the market/store will not have what I was hoping to get, even if they had it less than a week ago. Even little things like getting groceries can be very difficult and tiring. So, walking into a Target store that not only had everything I set out hoping to buy, but had everything in multiple brands, each brand with multiple flavors/scents, and a variety of size options-- it was jarring. It was not only easy to get what I wanted, it was excessive.
Jump forward a few weeks to our first days back on the field; things are hard again, and I feel myself getting genuinely angry about it. In just a few weeks of having basic life things be easy again and I came to expect it, to feel that things ought to be easy, and that it is better when things are easy for me. And that, I think, is a great lie that the enemy has proliferated--life is better if it is easy. And in America it has become so hard to notice if we believe this lie (or have even ever heard it in our minds), because generally things just are easy! So it is incredibly subtle, often unnoticable, when easiness becomes an expectation.
I recently finished reading “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and in the story a mother says, “Two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way - or always to have it.” This extends past childhood, I think, into adult life if it is allowed to. Those in America who Have find it easy to always get what they want, to the point they come to expect it, and eventually believe that things are best that way.
The craziest thing about me falling back into believing this lie of the enemy’s (after only three weeks), is that it goes against everything the Lord has been graciously teaching me this entire past year. I’ve been learning that I don’t want things easy. Keeping myself comfortable and easy doesn’t provide much opportunity to be used for Kingdom expansion; things being easy don’t provide new ways for the Lord to prove His faithfulness to me; things being easy don’t push me deeper in dependance on the Lord. Peaks of Joy aren’t as high without valleys of trial. One of my good friends I’ve made here, who is from a different religious background, shared with me that he never prays that God make his situation easier, but that he always prays God would lend him His strength to get through whatever is in front of him.
So, my prayer this year mirrors that of Agur son of Jakeh (Proverbs 30:7-9)--
“Two things I ask of you,
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep deception and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty or riches,
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You
and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’”
I do not want all that I want, for things are NOT always better when they are easy.
Photo by Peter Bond on Unsplash