We live in a world of self-entitlement and instant gratification, don’t we? At least in North America we sure live for the moment and expect life to happen for us instantly. This hit me Saturday night when, after a full day and going to church and running errands in the evening, it was after 8 pm and we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner yet. I had leftovers I was fine eating at home, but Mikey felt compelled to get a pizza. We don’t do it often, and eating food on an impulse is part of life that’s fun from time to time, so I encouraged him to get one (AND eat a big salad at home, ha!). I thought it was so crazy that he could want a pizza, go into Little Caesar’s, and buy one that was “hot n’ ready” without even waiting for the pizza to cook. I drove, so literally in minutes of thinking about it, Mikey was eating what he wanted, when he wanted it.
Part of that is an incredible gift and blessing – we live in a culture of abundance and that’s certainly not a bad thing. But it can make us impatient, feel that sense of entitlement to get things our way when we want, and can often lead to wrong expectations on our part. This can be about life: “Why haven’t I had a promotion yet?” “Why don’t I have a house/husband/wife/kid/[insert desire here] yet?” These kind of expectations lead to feeling entitled, which leads to a sense of frustration about life.
Does that seem harsh to you? I’m sorry if it does, but I really believe it’s true. In fact, we are given so much MORE than we deserve daily by God’s grace. He causes the rain to fall on us all, the sun to rise daily, and we haven’t done anything to deserve it. We aren’t promised anything in life but in North America, where most of us live in true luxury compared to the rest of the world, we get unraveled if things don’t go our way. I’m not trying to make light of tough situations in life; a hard day is a hard day regardless of what “hard” means to you. In fact, I had an emotional weekend – just up and down and been waiting for different things and praying about decisions in life – and yet it doesn’t surprise me to come across days that are hard like this. I don’t give up and I can’t blame God – it’s an expected part of life to suffer. Life is hard. I have friends going through some pretty tough life circumstances and illnesses right now, and while none of it is deserved, we are promised biblically (I’m speaking from my own worldview here) that we will go through difficult times.
In John 16:33, Jesus says to his disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Wow. You WILL have trouble. I WILL have trouble. Life as a Christian won’t be an easy road and isn’t promised to be. But there’s hope! Jesus overcame the world, and in Him we have a hope, a purpose, and a future. Now THERE’S a promise I can cling to when life around me feels like it’s crumbling!
What I mean is, in the light of God’s goodness and his character, the problems of our lives aren’t as big. I know that’s a huge statement, and it’s so much easier to make in North America as compared to places where the Church is persecuted, war is tearing countries apart, and immorality is clear at every turn in government. But ours is a different type of struggling here. It’s combatting the self – combatting that instant gratification that can make us self-serving rather than selfless.
On Friday night, we went to a concert in a old church downtown and watched Jon Foreman, the lead singer of Switchfoot, play his solo songs with a cellist and a drummer. I knew it would be a great concert, but I never expected it to be the best one I’ve ever seen AND lead to me (and the rest of the place) worshipping God together!
I was reminded that what matters most is Jesus, not me – I’m not the hero of my own story, the main character of this film, but it’s Him. And I needed that reminder so much and it was an incredibly freeing experience to be swept up by the Holy Spirit into the bigger story that is God’s story to write and tell.
(came down in the crowd, in true Jon Foreman style, and this is where we really began worshipping!)
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And although it doesn’t feel as significant as larger struggles in life, in a similar way we can get impatient and discouraged when it comes to our fitness. We ask ourselves, “Why haven’t I lost any weight yet?” after starting a new diet plan, or, “Why haven’t I increased my lifts yet?” after some faithful time in the gym. You might be following your paleo nutrition to a “t” and become discouraged when you don’t see change in two days, in a week, or even in two months. You might be exercising and doing everything “right” and still not be seeing those results you thought would come so much quicker.
And while it’s hard, you know what? It’s okay! I’ve been tracking my macros and trying to eat better and really haven’t seen much change – and today I was feeling a little frustrated about that, but then I remembered it’s a process. It can be so, so difficult to embrace the process, but at some point, your body (and lifestyle! and habits! and outlook!) will begin to change. You just have to stay the course:
- Don’t let the scale dictate how you feel
- Hydrate well
- Keep training hard but mainly, consistently
- Make sleep a priority
- Work reducing and dealing with stress
- Keep the bigger picture in mind: people matter most!
If you’re doing all this, you’re doing all you can! Focus on that bigger picture and trust that results will come…it will take time, but they will come. So cut yourself some slack, trust the process, and stay diligent. The worst thing you can do is worry and throw in the towel when it really hasn’t been that long. Some people try diets for ages – give the whole food, eating in moderation, living sustainably thing more than a one month shot and you’ll start to see the change. If it’s only been two weeks that you’ve been getting early to hit the gym before work, stick.with.it.
Your habits will change and your body will thank you! Maybe you’re just starting to mend relationships, or allow yourself to trust others more. Don’t run away. Stay the course with people and give those relationships to God.
Have you ever struggled with the desire for instant gratification, whether it was something as simple as a pizza like Mikey or a more major life change or fitness change? Let’s stay supportive of one another and keep spurring each other on in the different stories we’re living out.
Live well & be well,