Why do we romanticize difficult things?
September 22, 2021
We've all experienced this phenomenon. Reflecting on the past, we think about it with rose-colored glasses. Watching Little House on the Prairie has given me a bit of this feeling.
It seems like in some ways, they were able to just build a house and pick a plot of land to work. It's a cute town with some nice people and beautiful scenery.
But then I start thinking about all the other hardships that they endured. Working long days to keep the animals cared for and to make a buck just to clothe their children. Poor health care because medicine hadn't advanced enough yet.
There were fewer safety nets. In some ways, life now would be less expensive if there weren't as many safety nets that we demanded as part of our standard of living in the US.
I do think that these safety nets have distanced us from our reliance on God. It's a lot easier to feel like we have life under control when there are so many blessings available to us. Keeping the Lord's mercy at the forefront will help to abate it, but there's no denying that life in a developed country is pretty cushy.
We live in a time where the base standard of living is still better than most kings of the Old Testament experienced. Running water, electricity, indoor plumbing, completely furnished homes, gas-powered ovens and stoves, dishwashers and laundry machines, motorized vehicles, cell phones and computers, the internet.
It's a little nuts to think about how rapidly things have changed for humanity in the last 20-50 years. I can't believe it sometimes.
When I start feeling overwhelmed is the trigger for a longing to go back in time. But what causes us to romanticize modern difficult things like starting a business or other success?
I think it must be tied to a grass-is-greener mentality. Hannah said humans are always thinking things will be better if they can get to a certain point in the future. Better job, more money, new house, new car, new machine. I know I struggle with being content in the present.
I'm also looking forward often, planning for the future. What can I do to anchor myself to the present while still being mindful of the future? I know reflection is a great tool, it forces us to remember where we've come from and how much has already changed.
I also know that people tend to be looking forward to the next thing. Why is that? I suppose it's easy to overlook the current state of our lives because we grow numb to the many blessings we have already.
I know spending time in God's word will always cause me to slow down. Explicitly thanking him for everything that I can think of that he's blessed me with forces me to realize the blessings I have.
I might annoy people by pointing out how great we have it, but it makes them realize how blessed we are as well.
I love talking through what people had to do in the past. It makes me realize what I have. To stay warm, men had to cut enough firewood to warm their families through the winter. To travel, you had to care for livestock and build a barn for them to stay. To make a living, you had to physically plow the fields or haul the lumber in from the forest with no machines. Animals were the main source of power at that time. Metal tools were harder to come by and expensive. Now we take metal and scraps for granted.
Even something is simple as a bucket was given so much care. Now we have plastic EVERYTHING and it's so cheap that we discard it without a second thought when it breaks.
Sewing is one of the things that blows my mind. Women would hand stick garments together. That must have taken ages! With sewing machines, clothing and other fabric goods are whipped out lickedy-split. Our closets are filled to the brim with different clothes. It's the expectation of society that you don't wear the same thing every day anymore. What if we bucked the expectations? What if we reduced our lives so much that we could care for our belongings intentionally? The fact that we have such a surplus of things is amazing!
The ability to store all the things we consider essential to our lives is a blessing. Indoor space is treated like a commodity, but it's quite luxurious to have so much indoor space. Winter must have been more couped up in the past. Or people braved the elements more often just to get outside!
All this reflection is my way of working through why there's so much consumption in the modern age. With ease of access came a disregard for the vast blessings that are at our fingertips.
We consider the simplest things to be a chore now, like sending a text or making a phone call. That used to require a written letter, or a walk to someone's house to tell them!
What you could buy was dependant on what was in stock at the local mercantile. Now if we can't find EXACTLY what we're looking for, we turn to Amazon and order it. We don't "make do" much anymore. If something breaks, we immediately think to replace it rather than go without. Heck, most people don't even know how to fix the simplest things.
To be fair, so many modern things are more complex. Sometimes a specific part breaks that we need. But most people don't even try to figure out if they can fix it themselves... The gut response is to call the serviceman without even taking the cover off. I've done this, it takes time to look at things yourself. That's part of the luxury we experience. We have enough money that we can afford to pay someone else to fix something immediately rather than fix it ourselves or make do until we can afford a new one.
Suffice it to say, we're all living very luxurious lives. We could all stand to reflect on what society considers a necessity and realize that many of those things are merely wants. Sustaining ourselves has become the chore we do so we can enjoy ourselves and get to the leisure time. We need to push back against the expectations of society and lifestyle creep. Appreciate how much access to technology we have. Be grateful to the Lord and let that fuel your generosity to the church.
This was a really good topic to dive into this morning! I'm thankful I've stuck with the new routine 🙂