We've all heard the term "First World problems", right? The relatively minor things we complain about that compared to the problems of people in developing countries are laughable?
"I didn't get any sauce at the drive-thru."
"My cell phone battery loses charge too soon."
"The elevator is out, so I had to take the stairs."
Well, what if we turn the concept of First World problems on its head?
I've been thinking about inconsequential experiences, simple things that make me happy and are only enjoyed in the developed world. Not profound things, like the sound of children's laughter, the magic of a perfect sunset, or even modern conveniences in general, but the smallest of things that make life simpler and more enjoyable. Here's a short list I came up with. The first one gave me the idea for this article!
First World Joys
We are blessed with so many good things, big and small! Of course, "good" is subjective, but since these are all good to me, I think even this simple list falls under the truth of James 1:17! (Go look it up and tell me when you read it.)
The list could go on and on, but now I'd like to hear some of your ideas. What do you consider First World joys? Comment on this post or share with the hashtag #firstworldjoys.
My elbow meets the roughness of the commercial-grade carpet as my arm falls away from the relative comfort of the sleeping bag. The first shades of morning light wash through the frosted glass panes of the Sunday School room windows. A fluorescent beam comes through the cracked door, from the men’s bathroom across the hall.
Six little girls are camped out around me, ranging in age from seven to eleven. Two of the girls with the endcap ages belong to me, but in a way they all do.
In the room next to us, six older girls who giggled until well past midnight, are spread around, tucked under tables and cozied up to walls, all quiet. Nearby, two teenage girls who were ready to sleep sooner than the others, camp in a room by themselves.
Down the hall, my husband’s sleeping bag guards the door of a room, the same as mine. I proudly watched him shine the love of Christ last night, ministering to the youth as their pastor, a role he’s had less than two months now. Like a puzzle piece being snapped into place, I see him fit the space where he is shaped to be.
He shares the room with six people—future men and some who are already there. The youngest of them is five—he belongs to us. The boys impressed me with how easily most of them went to bed, much sooner and more agreeably than the girls.
As I maneuver in the sleeping bag, having slept off and on, I wonder how they’ve all slept—these twenty people entrusted to us overnight. Many in this budding Youth Group we’ve known for a long time and know well. The stories of others, we’ve yet to learn. We hear hints, random statements thrown out to test us, to find out if we care enough to listen. Lord, help us to listen.
I wonder how this night on a Sunday School room floor felt to them. Did it feel safer than what they know at home? Was there more comfort found on a hard floor than in their own rooms? Did they make a happy memory just because it was a new experience to break up the mundane? Was the best part just being so close to people who cared for them, friends they love?
We taught the Bible last night and sang songs to Jesus, but I wonder if the biggest lesson was found in the blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows. I pray that our church…this group…my husband and I, will be a place of comfort and safety, to break up the notion of life-as-normal, and to dispel loneliness. Because that’s what Jesus is! That’s what Jesus does! And whether He’s the reason they came or not, I hope they understand now that He’s the reason we’re all here.
Do you remember “journaling time” in school? Or maybe it was called “free writing”... I remember being given a thin, dull-white piece of paper with pink and blue lines, and a chunky pencil, and told to write something in fifteen minutes that would later be reviewed by my teacher. The memory feels like first grade, but I can’t be sure. We were allowed to write about anything- a new toy, a story we made up, something that made us sad, what we wanted to be when we grew up. Most days, I loved it. But some days, there were just no good thoughts in my head. Still, I had to fill that piece of paper. On more than one occasion, my work looked something like this:
I am writing to take up space.
I have to use all the lines, so I am writing these words to take up space on the paper.
I can’t think of anything to write about except that I have nothing to write about.
You get the idea. I thought it was a clever way to solve my problem, but I don't think Mrs. Collins agreed.
Sometimes, I still feel that way about writing. I “need” to write a blog because it’s been a while, yet I don't want to write words just for the sake of writing words. I want them to be meaningful. Now, I pray for guidance and trust that the right words will be there at the "write" time.
I think about those writing assignments often- how the paper ripped when I was over-zealous with the eraser, how intimidating those solid and dotted lines could be. Mostly, the image of that familiar paper reminds me how I don't want to live. I don't want to live the way I wrote, when the inspiration wouldn't come. I don't want to live just to take up space. God, help me to be more than a consumer of oxygen in this earth. Help me to produce something meaningful and beautiful with the resources I've been given.
James 4:14 says, "whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." There is a finite amount of lines on the page and pencils eventually get sharpened to nubs. We must be mindful to make the writing assignment of life more than vain words.
Write a good story. Fill the lines on the page well. Don't live just to fill the space between the margins of birth and death. Actively seek to do good, remembering James 4:17: "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." One day, the Teacher will review our work. May it be our best effort, with His help.
An actor looks at his script and begins to read a scene from the second act. Because he jumped into the middle of the plot, he doesn't have enough knowledge of the character's backstory and mindset to perform the role believably. He can only infer the correct emotions based on the dialogue.
"What's my motivation?" the actor asks the director. "How did my character get to this point in his journey? What's his story?"
As Christians, we are instructed to do some pretty big things. The Bible says, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." (Luke 10:27) Of course, we do this with the help of the Holy Spirit, but as we strive to live out this verse, it helps to look at our motivation. Why do we love, serve, and obey Him? What pushes us to keep going?
The Word makes our motivation clear: "We love him, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19) He loves us! That's what should motivate us more than anything to follow Him. Especially since we didn't have to earn His love, and we certainly didn't deserve it. Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Whenever the journey seems hard and you find yourself asking "Why should I?" do this or "Why should I?" do that, remember your motivation: He loves you. The God of the universe loves you unconditionally, and that's enough to keep you going.
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Thank you for visiting my blog. I share devotional articles and musings about life, parenting, and the writing journey, as well as important news about my books. I hope you find something of interest here!