My Life Full of First World Problems
“I accidentally wore a red polo shirt to Target.”
“I’m at a coffee shop and have to go to the bathroom, but I don’t want to leave my laptop and latte out here.”
“I really want Chick-fil-a, but it’s Sunday.”
#firstworldproblems. They’re everywhere – messing with our plans and causing frustration. They’re trending on social media, generating new memes, and inspiring Urban Dictionary entries every day. And for the past two months, it seems as though they have set their target directly at me.
I’ll recap for you. First, I found out that the house my teammate and I were supposed to move into was under construction and our move-in would be delayed by three weeks. Then, one of my teammates resigned, so we were one man down. Then, I got an email saying it would be one more week until our house was done. Then, I got a nail in my tire (probably a construction nail from driving past our unfinished house) and had to pay $250 to replace it. Move-in delayed again. Lost my keys for two days. Move-in delayed again. Too many students sign up for Bible study and not enough Bible study leaders. Move-in delayed again – this time for two weeks. On second thought, these might be considered just “problems” (except for the Bible study one, that’s more of a #Catholicmissionaryproblem).
Whether the problem was a little annoyance or a real issue, it was so easy to put all of the focus on me. I had already lived out of a suitcase all summer. I need to feel settled in order to fulfill my apostolate. I would like to sleep on a bed instead of a couch. I really deserve a better situation than this one.
Time for a wake up call: There are millions of homeless people all over the world – people who don’t have a friend’s couch to crash on or the money to pay for food everyday. God loves them just as much as He loves me. Yet I, for some reason, think I’ve done something to deserve a place to live and a generally better situation?
I’d like to tell you that God only had to knock some sense into me once. But I am much too human for that. Every email telling us we would have to wait another week to move in was like another call from God, “It’s still not going your way. What are you going to do about it?”
He was asking me to GIVE UP on things going my way. As much as I insisted that my way was the right one, it became more and more clear that His way is the only one that matters. It is only in the giving up that freedom is found. Once the focus was taken off of me and placed where it belongs (on Jesus), I could embrace His cross with trust and full surrender. We all have obstacles, struggles, annoyances, pain, and suffering. Little or big, first world or third world, we all have problems. What matters is what we do about them.
You may have heard the phrase “offer it up” thrown around in the Catholic/Christian world. It’s sometimes used as a consolation or a challenge (or as a way to get someone to stop complaining), but it’s really a mind-blowing mystery of Christ’s redeeming love. For example, how is it that while we daily pick up our often heavy crosses to follow Him, the yoke is easy and the burden light (see 9:23, Matt 11:30)? And what does it look like? This time for me, it looked like not having a home, a stable life or any space to call my own. But I could still find great peace in knowing that Jesus is Lord of all. By offering up my suffering with His suffering, it could bear much fruit. And what’s amazing is no sacrifice is too small to offer.
Let’s take a lesson from St. Therese of Lisieux and her “little way”. She knew that she was imperfect and could never be perfect without God’s mercy and forgiveness. So, she pledged an unfailing commitment to the tasks, annoyances, and people she met in her everyday life. She met each one with great love, heroic generosity, and thankful praise to her Savior. That is how she became a saint. That is how we can become saints.
Now, I’m not expecting #littleway to become a trending topic on Twitter or Facebook (although that would be rad). But I do hope we all take a closer look at how we deal with the things in our life that don’t go our way. Are we really “offering it up” when we say we do? Do we really believe that God’s way is the best way? Are we letting our problems take over our lives?
I have to be honest: I thought that by the time I turned in this blog post, I would be moved in, unpacked and enjoying our newly remodeled house. Well, I’m still not, but that’s beside the point. Reality doesn’t always meet up with our expectations, but our expectations are nothing compared to God’s plans for us. If we give up and follow Him in little ways, He will bring us to something big.
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Jan 7, 2015
My Life Full of First World Problems
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