I don’t think any wise person ever said it would be easy. The bible doesn’t say it should be easy. My parents never told me it would be easy. However, it seems that a lot of progress is devoted to making things easier. Some of this I appreciate. I really do, I’m not against progress & technology, although sometimes it sounds as though I am. In truth, I’m selective about technology, and I am very discerning when assigning the label of progress.
I think the pursuit of ‘easy’ has led to some attitude issues. In my opinion, there’s an attitude of ‘easy’ in our society. When you get caught in the undertow of believing easy equals progress, it causes some problems. It doesn’t always look like ‘easy’ is to blame, but if you dig deeper, it often is!
This wisdom came to my husband & I as we tried to repair our finances. We slowly realized that the things we needed to cut out of our budget were mostly easy-makers. Eating out, processed foods, disposable diapers, prepared foods, impulse buys. When we would evaluate why these categories were sabotaging our budget to begin with, the answer would be “well, it’s just so much easier…” Easier to buy chicken stock than make it. Easier to throw away diapers than wash them. Easier to open a box of breakfast cereal than to make homemade granola. Easier to call for Chinese take-out than to cook dinner. Easier to buy it now, than to save for it later. Well, when you get accustomed to ‘easy’, it becomes a habit.
After realizing this, we’ve developed a habit of viewing decisions through this filter. Now, when we’re faced with a choice we ask if we’re choosing something because it’s easier. More often than not, since figuring out this secret, the easy way… is not the ‘correct’ way. Now, your definition of correct is going to be different than ours. It depends on your values & your goals.
When we find ourselves saying to the children “Go watch a movie, we need to relax” we realize that’s the easy way out, and it can very quickly become a habit. Balance is the key there, of course, but making something like that an actual habit will inevitably lead to regret.
Credit cards are an easy way out. We don’t have them, but the same instant gratification mindset led to our financial troubles. We didn’t have the patience to save. We wanted it now, and would sometimes delay a payment on a bill to have what we wanted right when we wanted it. Making this a habit also leads to regret. Ask me how I know.
Grabbing fast food, boxed prepared food, or junk food is an easy way out. Quick, requires no effort & little thought. Hmmm… leads to regret in one form or another.
All the disposable choices available to our society? Such an easy way out. Paper plates, plastic forks, Styrofoam cups. I don’t have a dishwasher, so I especially know how easy these can be. If there’s not already some regret about the overuse of these items though, there certainly should be.
I look around at my loved ones, friends, society, and inside our own home, and I see many things that just can’t be controlled. Life happens, we roll with the punches & pray for the best. We hold tight & keep our chin up. Some things can’t be helped, they just are. But I also see some problems, causing copious amounts of stress, that could have been avoided if we’d not taken taken the easy route. If we applied that filter to all of our decisions, would we make better choices?
I’ve noticed my own children tend to try the easiest way. I’m thankful that I can gently encourage them to look at the likely outcome of that choice & decide if that’s indeed their goal. If not, another way might be better. Easy doesn’t often equal better.
I look at how my grandparents would have done something & I think they had it right most of the time. They had to work harder at many things, but they often had better results. I am not saying this applies to everything! Of course there are some things I’m thankful that we don’t have to do the old fashion way. Like I said, I’m not against technology and true progress.
Ya know, I’m sure my parents didn’t raise me to think ‘if it’s not easy, don’t bother’. But somehow, over the years, that attitude crept in. I’m intentionally going out of my way to get rid of it. And it does mean shunning some things that other people consider progress. That’s ok. Because I think what others call progress is partially responsible for this attitude, and I don’t want any part of it. As far as progress goes, I now use an additional filter to look at that issue: C.S. Lewis said “We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Do you think I’m off base? Have you had a similar revelation, or have you always felt this way? What things do others call progress, but you’ve done an about-turn & walked away from? Are there some ‘easy’ things that you wouldn’t want to be without?