About two years ago, I came across this video that expresses the desires of many Americans. And isn’t it easy to fall into thinking this way? Into this idealistic way of thinking that it is possible to be safe, happy, healthy, and comfortable all the time. Even worse, many see this kind of life as a right, as something we all somehow deserve.
We often refer to these expectations as … first. world. problems.
Don’t get me wrong, people all over the world desire to be safe, healthy, happy, and comfortable, but so often, their interpretations of what is safe, healthy, happy, and comfortable look very different from ours. For instance, the people I worked with in Africa more often interpret “safe, happy, healthy, and comfortable” like this:
Safe: living free from the daily, rational fear of being sexually assaulted
Healthy: praying you don’t die of HIV+/AIDS like the rest of your family
Happy: wishing someone would tell you they love you today
Comfortable: hoping someone throws away a piece of foam that you can use as a bed tonight, having a blanket to keep you warm, or getting to eat more than one meal in a day
I’m not promoting a radical – leave your doors unlocked – never laugh – sleep on the floor lifestyle. I’m not even asking you to feel sorry for those who live in more difficult circumstances than we do. I’m asking you to imagine what it would be like to walk in their shoes, to care about them, and then … to pray for them.
And let’s gain some perspective here. First world problems – they’re not really problems at all.
… but yes, they’re annoying, and rather humorous, so here are a few of my favorites:
- My food was so good that I ate it before I had the chance to take an Instagram picture of it. #firstworldproblems
- My Blu-ray player doesn’t stream fast enough to play movies on Netflix or Amazon. #firstworldproblems
- I just ordered a cup of coffee in the drive-thru, but this car doesn’t have a cup holder, so now I’ve got to hold it. #firstworldproblems strike again!
- The lever lock on the gas pump is broken. Now I have to actually stand outside in the cold and hold the lever instead of sitting in my warm car. #firstworldproblems
- There’s no room in the freezer for all the microwavable meals I just bought. #firstworldproblems
- It hasn’t rained in a while and now the city has restricted us to watering our lawns only twice per week. #firstworldproblems
- This brand new front load washer drives me crazy. I actually have to wipe it out regularly to avoid mold. #firstworldproblems
After spending a week in Africa, my mom looked over at my dad and me one night and said, “Y’all, we really need to stop saying ‘there’s nothing to eat around here. I mean, we always have something to eat.’” Perspective.
Because when we enter the worlds of other people we see. And learn. And change.
Seeing the world through another’s eyes is good for us. It helps us to grow.
… and in gratitude,
… and in compassion.
So, feel free to share some of your own #firstworldproblems in the comments below. Even better, let us know how looking at life through another person’s eyes has changed you.
“For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.” C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew