Suspended Satisfaction (A Monday Morning Reflection)
We left Mongolia a little over a month ago. We went to Europe. And now we're moving around the southeastern United States. Kind of like gypsies. Or hobos. Or nomads. Or maybe more like circus performers suspended on a transcontinental tightrope with no real idea concerning the specifics of the terminus.
Coming back to America has brought on all sorts of conflicted thoughts and feelings. I'm sometimes overwhelmed with joy. Reunion with family and friends; children and parents. This weekend we are in Franklin, TN and are reconnecting with people form our old church. I love this.
At the same time America can be an incredibly frustrating place. It can be tiny things like the fact that Americans tend to be really loud in coffee shops in the in the mornings (Okay, that's an annoyance I am currently experiencing as I write this), and can often be overly apologetic (Seriously. My "personal space bubble" is much smaller than six feet. You don't have to apologize for passing me in a grocery aisle, as if you've just shoved me in a ditch). Of course, like every culture, there are deeper issues. The one that often shouts the loudest is the reality that American culture is deeply entrenched in a materialistic mindset. That sounds a little "preacher-ish" (I am no longer a preacher and don't really want to sound like one). However, it is true.
Advertising here is all the proof one needs of this. If I can have or experience "this thing," then I will be happy. If I take this medication, I will have no more pain. If I can get into the right relationship with the right person, then I will experience real happiness. Because, after all, I do deserve happiness. American advertising (and there is a lot of advertising in America) is entirely based on this deceptive presumption: You are deeply dissatisfied and have absolutely no chance of achieving satisfaction until you possess/experience/eat/drink this thing.
And I'm guilty (I'm quite certain we're all guilty, but I won't speak for you) of being suckered by the lies.
Case in point.
I have a great camera. It's a Canon 60D. I love this camera. It takes fantastic pictures, is easy to use, is of at least of "pro-hobbyist" quality and it's what I use for the majority of my photographs.
But ... the Sony A7s is coming. I am thinking it might be time to make a jump to mirrorless. If I had this little baby, with all of it's small-body, full-frame-sensor, 4k video, LED Electronic viewfinder brilliance, then I'd be really happy. After all, my 60D is four years old. In today's "technology years," that's a 30 year old camera ("technology years" ... it's like "dog years" for technology. I totally just made that up.) The rubber grip is coming off, anyway. So, really, my camera is a piece of junk and I will not be satisfied until I spend upwards to three grand to obtain the thing that really make me happy.
But that's a lie. I can have a dozen of those cameras and I won't be any happier at all. Not really.
A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
Most of us who have gone to church any length of time probably know this. In theory. I don't think we always believe it because it is contrary to the American dream. Or the American fabrication. And we end up believing the deception.
I had the privilege of speaking about this issue yesterday at our home church in Franklin, TN. Happiness and the contentment which partners with real happiness comes when Jesus is central to everything. Paul learned to be content in every circumstance (Philippians 4:10-12) because he was strengthened in all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).
Many times this verse is used as a saying on Christian motivational posters, rather than as a call to make Christ the heart of everything we are. Contentment will be my experience, as I experience Christ as my life, no matter what camera I may or may not have. Whether I am sitting under my own fig tree, or if the fig tree fails to blossom .... "yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
Contentment is in Christ. This is simple, yet critical truth and I am finding it necessary to hang on tightly to this while suspended somewhere between Mongolia and America.