Do you ever think something over in your head and then have to say it out loud to see if it sounds true? I do it to Noah all the time. It’s a good way of testing the waters to see if I’m on the right track with a particular train of thought or if I just sound like an idiot. Usually, I run it by him before potentially embarrassing myself, but in this case I’m trusting you all to let me know if I’m totally off base or if there’s something that I’m missing.
The other day a friend and I were talking and she made a complaint about something pertaining to her house. Jokingly, I compared her situation to ours, something like: “Do you have dispose of your own waste every week? Then count yourself lucky!”
Her response: “Yeah, but you guys are CHOOSING to live like that.”
That pretty much shut me up.
Her comment has stayed with me over the past couple of weeks and I’ve been mulling over what exactly I should take away from it.
At the crux, it implies:
1. We have no right to complain about any of the difficulties about this lifestyle because we could call it quits at any time – sell the land, the bus, etc, and go back to renting a house or an apartment.
2. We shouldn’t compare the inconveniences that we’re voluntarily experiencing to anybody else’s, because they aren’t making the CHOICE to go through theirs.
On the one hand, I agree. I think it would be pretty ridiculous to say that we have it just as hard as someone who is forced into an unconventional living situation due to poverty or hardship. I absolutely think that my whole outlook would be much, much different if it weren’t for the fact that there is an end in sight.
On the other hand, however, I also don’t think there’s any reason NOT to point out the simple conveniences that so many take for granted on a daily basis. My patience for people bemoaning the size of their closet or wishing they could update their perfectly functional kitchen has (understandably, I think) shrunk to an imperceptible amount. Simply because most people, if given the opportunity, would choose to live with MORE conveniences than are already afforded to them doesn’t negate the fact that they are already living with a LOT of conveniences.
I don’t mean this in a holier-than-thou, martyr-ish sort of way, and I certainly hope to never develop that kind of complex. I’m also NOT trying to justify our “right to complain”, because that would be kind of silly.
I guess all I’m saying is that throughout this whole experience we are cultivating heaps of gratitude for simple things that most other people have without even thinking of them as a luxury, such as abundant electricity, a room with a floor big enough to rough house with the kids on and a regular-sized fridge and freezer.
Yes, we are choosing to go without these things for the sake of pursuing a larger goal - and a big part of that larger goal includes being able to have those exact things and then some – but I don’t see that as taking away from the lessons that we’re currently learning.
Noah pointed out that our choice, essentially, was to build a home for ourselves and that all the rest is because of that. We’re accepting of the fact that if we want the end result, we have to go through the trials to get there. The trials also serve the purpose of building up gratitude, resilience and resourcefulness and have given us a completely different perspective on how we live our lives day-to-day.
There are always tradeoffs. Your family chooses to go into the ministry and so you live in a small apartment off a pastor’s earnings. You choose to cut cable so you can save up to take an awesome vacation. You choose paying cash for an older vehicle over going into debt for a nicer, newer one.
If you get right down to it, the biggest convenience of all is the ability to choose the path we want to take and that’s not something anyone should take for granted.