August 13: How Do We Turn #FirstWorldProblems Into #FirstWorldSolutions?

Alright y'all. I figured I should probably take a little time and explain the rant about "First World Problems" yesterday. It all started with this book I've been reading called Rhinestone Jesus. If you haven't read it, you should really check it out. My comfortable little world has been deeply challenged so far.

And then I saw this on Facebook, back to back in the newsfeed:

I just sort of sat there in shock. I can't quite wrap my mind around this dichotomy. How does one seamlessly flow from children getting beheaded, mothers raped and fathers hung to getting your roots touched up? How can there be such a discrepancy in the world in which we live??

But there is, which is why we even have such a thing as #firstworldproblems.

And then I look at my own children. They always have their needs met, a roof over their head, and three {fairly} healthy meals a day plus snacks and desserts and treats. By the time the grandparents get done with them, they don't want for anything, either. They have so many toys that they can't keep them picked up off the floor and so many clothes that they can't keep them in their dresser. How do I reconcile this with the starving, malnourished, naked children across the ocean? Or even the dirty kids down the street in the same outfit from Monday?

One of the reasons I wanted my children to grow up in the city was so that they wouldn't grow up to be entitled, selfish Americans. So that they would rub shoulders with the homeless, feed the hungry, befriend the neighborhood kids who have it rough, and be able to see that life can be hard sometimes. See that they have been incredibly blessed and want to give to others and love them well.

The mistake that I've made so far is believing that simply living here is enough. That simply seeing is enough. That simply knowing is enough. That somehow, like osmosis, being around poverty and great need would produce selfless character qualities.

I was wrong.

The whining, complaining, bragging, stinginess, and boasting that comes from the mouths of my children will tell you that real quick. And my first reaction recently has been anger.

I'm angry at their ungratefulness. For how much they take for granted. For how they want to hoard what they have for themselves.

And then I remember that they are this way because that's exactly how I've raised them to be. They are a product of my values and my parenting. That was an unintentional consequence, certainly, but a consequence nonetheless.


So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.  Romans 12:1-2

I've also been challenged by this passage lately. There are so many things in our culture that we seamlessly flow with and do just because that's the way we've done it for as long as we can remember. But some of those things are so wrong. And not even wrong like the things in and of themselves are bad--getting a bunch of toys for your birthday, for instance. Sure, we want to love on and bless our kiddos on their birthday. But it's the quantity and extravagance that I question.

How can we justify having so many toys that they are coming out of our ears when there are other children who have nothing?

How many toys does one really need for their birthday? And how can we draw the line closer to need rather then want, and use the extra (money or toys) to bless someone else?

How enormous of a house does one really need? How nice of a car? How fancy of clothes? On a more personal note, how much Starbucks coffee does one really need?

I'm not looking to change the world, at least right away. ;) But I am looking to change the life of ONE. One person, one need, one step at a time. 

CHOOSE ONE. It's practical, manageable and within reach.

Because the problem doesn't exist between the people and the knowledge. We have plenty of knowledge. We have so much knowledge that it tends to spew out of us. The problem exists between the knowledge and the action. The doing. Call it another #firstworldproblem.

I'd like to figure out how to turn #firstworldproblems into #firstworldsolutions. I'm going to see if I can practically flip some common First World Problems around for the greater good by challenging the cultural norms. To let go of some wants in order to bridge the gap between first world convenience and third world reality. To put others above ourselves and start to even the playing field.

Forget the whole I Am Second thing. We really need to be third. God, others, then ourselves.

I need to do this for myself. I need to do this for my children. And we need to do this for our family. Because there's got to be a better way to live, both here and around the world.

Stay tuned.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.  Luke 12:48b