I Want It…Now!
One of the concepts that captivates me and keeps me continually learning and changing is how the way of Christ is so upside-down and backwards in comparison to the way of culture. I used to think this was true primarily because the way of Christ is about sacrifice and the American way is about consumption, but anytime I contemplate the differences (sorry, that made me sound like some kind of recluse sitting in a cave with my legs crossed and eyes closed–but you get the point) I just realize that I will be discovering new manifestations of this reality for the rest of my life.
One that struck me recently is the need for instant gratification we have. My son had his third birthday this weekend and my parents wanted to buy him a new bed for his present. We checked a couple furniture stores, and at one of these we were blown away by how beautiful everything was, but we were about to walk out because $2500 for a twin bed didn’t strike us as a steal. Well, the salesman caught us as we were walking out and informed us that they did have some beds that were in our price range, so we decided to take a look. They really were beautiful, and he told us that all the beds came with a lifetime warranty (actually he told us this and then went on to tell us why all the other beds in the world suck), and then he told us that everything in their store is made to order by Mennonite Amish families, so it would take about two months to get my son’s bed in. My first (thankfully internal) reaction was–TWO FREAKIN MONTHS!! My gut instinct was seriously to say thanks but no thanks and move on to a place that uses particle board and Elmer’s glue but could put something in our trunk right then. I quickly got over my internal outburst and really thought about it. Two months for something my son would be using for the next 10-15 years. Two months for something that far surpassed the quality of the crap we’d get somewhere else for the same price, and I wanted to pass it up because it would take too long.
American culture (and increasingly global culture) has marred us with a need to have things right away. If we wait more than fifteen minutes for our food at a restaurant we want to see a manager. We push a button on our remote to order a movie when we want it (which keeps us from having to exert the painful energy of getting off the couch and driving to a Blockbuster). We take pills to lose weight because we won’t stick with the slow process of exercise and eating healthy. We plunge into massive debt because we can get “6 months with no payments and no interest.” Thank goodness we don’t actually have to save for anything!!
This need for instant gratification is something deeply ingrained in me and I’m trying to allow God to take it out of me. I’m not saying it’s always wrong to get something fast, but many times the destructiveness of this tendency can be seen in the results. Fast food and fad diets fling us toward obesity. Credit cards and financing push us into ever-increasing debt. “Casual sex” brings physical consequences and emotional devastation because the shallow relational foundation can’t hold such a weighty thing as sex (but waiting isn’t an option). I’m sure you can come up with others. Usually really good things take time. Deep relationships, social change, health–these are all things that require commitment and perseverance, not an Internet connection and a credit card.