Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When is it enough?

I've been noticing lately that we, as Americans, are an awfully spoiled bunch of people. (That perception could be skewed a bit too far in that direction by having a teenage daughter!) It's amazing to think that we live in one of the richest countries in the world, enjoying freedoms that others dream about and yet how often do we sit and complain because we don't have more? If we have a home with heating and air conditioning, refrigeration and electricity (huge blessings)... do we really need to whine about not having a bigger home, a flat screen tv, a newer this or that? Why isn't enough actually enough any more?

I think I found a similar attitude in Mosiah 11. Wicked King Noah was the "king of never enough" (pun intended!) First he had to take more wives and concubines because one just wasn't enough. Then he had to tax his people so that he could support himself and his wives because it's hard to have "enough" money when you're living large. Pretty soon he starting looking around and realizing that his shabby dwellings and insufficient throne weren't good enough either- time to bring in the gold, silver and fine wood. Maybe he thought he was being patriotic... you know, he wouldn't want his people to be embarassed about not having a beautiful seat of government. They really NEEDED something they could be proud of, right?! King Noah didn't stop there, though. (Have you ever noticed how ingratitude builds upon itself and creates a wealth of "I wants" ?) Next he "needed" to plant vineyards round about the land so that he could have "wine in abundance." The natural result of this is that he soon became a wine-bibber because he was following his usual pattern of self-absorption.

This leads me to compare King Noah to those of us who are living in abundance today. Are we filled with gratitude for the incredible blessings we enjoy? Or are we following King Noah's pattern and constantly grabbing for more? Are we content with "enough?"

I find it hard to believe that any of us has any reason to complain about our situations. How many people around the world would jump at the opportunity to trade places with us? There is a lot of difference in the levels of prosperity among us, but even the poorest among us isn't really that poor. (How many "poor" people do you know who somehow find the money to pay for cable, cell phones, newer cars, new electronics, etc.??!) I don't know of anyone who reads this blog who doesn't have a decent place to live, electricity, clothing and food. It bugs me to listen to my husband and daughter complain about having to eat ham and beans two nights in a row because I know that there are people in the world right now who would gladly sit at my table and thank me for providing a meal. It bothers me to hear teens complain about not having the latest cell phone, ipod, computer, or video game when most of them already have some version of each of these already!! It bothers me to think that I have been abundantly blessed in so many ways and yet I'm still ungrateful enough to want to use our "extra" for my own purposes instead of the Lord's. Frankly, I'm pretty ashamed sometimes. I'm not very attached to any of my belongings, but sometimes I think I'm too attached to the abundance I enjoy. All I have to do is see footage of the people in Myanmar chasing after a truck to get one very small package of food to realize that I'm spoiled rotten and I don't like that feeling. I'd rather be blessed and thankful but willing to forego many of these conveniences and toys and be able to provide more help to those in dire need.

On the flip side, I know that there are many, many truly wonderful people around us who give so generously of their abundance. I look to them as my example and my heroes. Amidst all the poverty and suffering in this world there are stories of love and sacrifice that will bring tears to your eyes. People still reach out and help and that gives me hope for a better world someday. One day everyone will have a share in our abundance. I can't wait. And I think I'm going to go see if I can't fit in a donation for humanitarian aid this month- I know that'll feel better than spending it on myself.


Louann and Bari said...

Great comparison. Talk to Katy about how it was to live in Russia in the winter sometime (and how they live all the time),or the missionaries who live under poor conditions to serve the Lord. I always think that there is one more level to my humility and gratitude. For example, I'm grateful for my home, running water, HOT running water. We have a bath but not a shower right now, and you would think we were living in an outhouse. Hmmm- how inconvenient. LOVE YOU!!! Great thoughts!!!!

cassie said...

I have been thinking about this a lot, esp. since I just finished Tuesdays With Morrie. Great thoughts, I think it's just going to be something we all struggle with, at least I know I do.

Papa D said...

Great thoughts, Patty.

When you have a few minutes (since you have nothing else to do - *grin*), check out the following posts: