It’s funny sometimes how the sermon on Sunday morning hits home. Those times when the sermon is done, and you want to ask the people around you if they had heard the same thing because you are afraid it was just meant for you and no one else.
This Sunday was that case for me. The sermon was about appreciating what you have been given and not wanting something more. That is one of my worst problems; it seems that material happiness is just always outside of my grasp. I can see it and I know what I want, but I can never quite attain it. It appears I spend my whole life wanting more instead of appreciating all that I do have.
The pastor asked us how much money is enough — a million, 10 million, a billion, just how much money is enough? We all feel like we are struggling each day to get by when most of us live a life that most of the other people in this world can only dream of. Even at a poverty level, those of us in the United States have a better standard of living than most of the rest of the world. Yet with all of that, it is never enough, and we want more.
My old pickup has a hole in the seat, a few dings on it and more and more miles all the time. I really don’t have any problems with it, but I find myself gazing at the car lots as I go by and wondering what a new one would be like. Do I need a new pickup? No, this one is doing just fine, and would it make me any happier? Probably not, and the payment would add stress. Yet I can’t get the thought out of my mind.
I would guess it is a human condition to a certain extent, but I would also bet that we Americans have taken it to a whole new level. We feel entitled to luxuries most cannot even dream of. Don’t have a cell phone, the government will help you get one. Internet and television are two things most can’t dream of living without, including me, but do we really need them? I am not sure; I am just posing the question.
Am I saying that we either need to give up the lifestyles we live or feel bad that we have them? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that we need to be more appreciative of what we do have and not spend as much time thinking about what we don’t have. For the most part, we have the lifestyle we live because of where we were born. Yes, we all work very hard for what we have, but there are places where all the hard work in the world won’t get you ahead. We work for what we want and not to merely survive, and that is the difference between us and most of our fellow world inhabitants.
Please also don’t think I am trying to be condescending — it is a message I needed to hear as much or more than anyone else. I always feel like if I had just a little more money or upgraded something else, my life would be easier or better. Most of the time this is simply not true. In short, I should spend more time being grateful for the blessings in my life instead of being distracted by the next shiny thing.
I am sure that I don’t appreciate how lucky I am to be born where I am, and in the time I live in. We have it so good. This is where the sermon really hit me. Maybe if I didn’t spend so much time worrying about what I don’t have and feeling like I never have enough, I would spend more time thinking about those around me and what they need.
If we realize that we have been blessed with enough and that our lives really are comfortable, then we can reach out to those who do need our help. I bet if I was not as worried about what I don’t have, it would open my eyes to the world around me. At the very least it would ease a lot of the worry and stress that I put on myself unnecessarily if I wasn’t worried about what thought I needed.
In any case, I got the message and if I wasn’t so embarrassed about needing a message like that, I would have asked those around me for their thoughts. I guess the good Lord knows me well and I know he had been sending me subtle messages for a while, but often the direct one is the only way to get my attention. The message was heard and received and now to the hard part —living up to it, because I am a little worried about what comes next.
Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at email@example.com.