It’s really fun to watch someone enjoy something for the first time.
My good friend Lindsay came to visit me in Colorado last weekend. She lives in Virginia and she’s never explored the western U.S. except for a little bit of time in California. In case you’ve never compared the rolling, green hills of Virginia to the stark mountains of Colorado, they’re quite different.
Having Lindsay here was so fun because she was seeing everything through the lenses I once had when I moved here nine months ago. Driving back from the airport, which is an incredibly unexciting drive for the most part–just far stretches of flat, dry land with a barely-visible view of hazy mountains in the distance–she was snapping pictures like we were standing at the foot of a majestic mountain. She took picture of fences (“What are those for?” “Oh, I have no idea. Never noticed them before.” *Snap*), and commercial buildings, and road signs. I laughed and told her I couldn’t wait until we actually went somewhere cool.
I’m glad she appreciates the little things with the big things, but it had me thinking about how we as people can sometimes be so narrow-sighted that we take what’s right in front of us without exploring the greatness beyond what our eyes can see.
We are people of instant gratification. At least I am.
This impatience can apply to many things, but the one I’m referring it is more serious than eating cold pizza because we don’t want to toast it in the oven. I’m talking about the impatience that leads to us getting into a bad relationship because being loved by someone is easier than waiting to be loved by the right one. It can mean spontaneously coughing up a lot of money on an adorable outfit when we meant to save it for our bills, or car repairs or the needy family down the street. It can mean throwing verbal knives at a good friend because they upset us, instead of holding it back and letting love win over our anger. Or maybe we talk ourselves up for the instant praise it brings instead of talking up our friends and family who need someone to see the greatness in them.
How tragic it would have been if Lindsay had wanted to just hang around my neighborhood because the 1.5 hour drive to the 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado Springs was too long, boring and far? How terrible if she had come all this way to only see the drive back from the airport?!
I’m afraid that society encourages us to enjoy our freedom, passions and “have what we want” at the expense of the deeper rewards that come from patience, discernment and self control. We don’t experience the joy of healed relationships, lasting marriages, selfless giving or shining the spotlight on others instead of ourselves.
C.S. Lewis, a prominent British novelist, poet, academic and theologian, describes this delusional mindset of the human race in this beautiful way:
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased” (The Weight of Glory).
Lewis recognized that joy came in different forms, and at different levels. As humans, we often grab at instant pleasure–the products of our impulses. But a greater, deeper joy is available to us when we seek different rewards, ones that result in stronger character and greater love for the people around us.
I’m glad that Lindsay could appreciate the little things, but that she was also excited about the great things she hadn’t seen. The 3-hour railway car ride might not have been the most comfortable, but I don’t think she hated the view at the top of the mountain:-)