Livin' in the First World

One of my new favorite phrases or sayings (or whatever it's called), which seems to apply in oh-so-many situations is "first world problems"; you know, as opposed to "third world problems." I'm a first world girl in every sense of the word. I hate, hate, hate bugs, I consider air conditioning and heating to be vital needs, and I consider a daily (or twice daily when called for) shower a non-negotiable item. I also like to have a variety of foods available at all times (who likes to get bored with food?) and feel down in the dumps when no dessert is to be found in the house.

I find it very easy to complain about doing laundry, even though I have a fully functioning automatic washer and I've never hung anything on a clothesline in my whole entire life. (Okay, the play one I strung up in my great-grandmother's den when I was five doesn't count.) I whine about how long I have to spend in the kitchen everyday, yet I've never picked my own wheat and ground it into flour or rung a chicken's neck before dinner or cooked over a wood-burning stove. I huff and puff at the numerous times I have to sweep my nicely tiled kitchen floor and I find myself wishing we had more space for all our stuff, though we live in a mansion compared to most of the world and last time I checked, "too much stuff" wasn't actually eligible to be considered a real problem.

So, I've tried to gain a new perspective on things lately by stopping short of complaining and reminding myself that I'm blessed to be experiencing yet another first world problem. I can assure you all my friends are thrilled with all the help I'm giving them in finding that perspective on life as well. Just the other night, a friend beat me to the punch as she labeled our dilemma of being unable to find dessert at 10pm on a girls' outing a "first world problem." Okay, I'll admit to you that I was actually too consumed with my sadness over my unsatisfied dessert craving, that I didn't even catch it.

I'm thankful for my new perspective, because some most days I really need it. Today happened to be one of those days. It was nothing more than a first world kind of day, just inviting me to have a pity party or a temper tantrum or a pout fest, but most of the day, I retained my joy in the Lord and tried to look in every nook and cranny of my life for the his presence and plans. He knew before the world began that today, in only my third week of Community Bible Study (one of the highlights of my week), I'd be at home with a sick kid and a demanding toddler tackling an endless pile of chores. (Of course, I should have known it as well seeing as it is the end of the first month of school. We schedule a germ visit at this time every year.) And He planned it that way for a purpose.

And I was (mostly) good with that.

Until late in the day, after the mountain of laundry and the bored boys and the temper tantrums and the toys randomly and constantly appearing just where I was trying to walk were starting to get the best of me. But the straw that broke this tired, stuck-at-home camel's back was the snotty-nosed toddler climbing up my leg, screaming for a bite of the frozen chocolate banana I had tried unsuccessfully to sneak away and eat in peace.

Sometimes it's the little things.

I'm telling you, the U.S military needs to put some time and money into researching kids' snack and junk food radar. It's impossible to get by with anything, be it frozen bananas or CheezIts, when there's a kid within a half-mile radius. How do they know? For the love, will somebody tell me?

In that moment of leg-climbing desperation, my first world problem seemed pretty serious to me. I mean, chocolate covered bananas are vital to life. They're the perfect combination for satisfying that sweet tooth while still maintaining some semblance of healthiness and low calorie intake. But all my calories felt wasted, thrown into the trash heap of unenjoyed meals, because I hadn't gotten to savor one single bite. Let's face it. The real reason you eat chocolate covered anything is purely for enjoyment. (Unless maybe it's chocolate covered insects and that would clearly only happen for survival's sake.)

As I pried the banana-deprived child off my leg, threw my popsicle stick in the garbage, and fought with every fiber of my being the urge to have a fit like the ones said child throws so often and so well, I felt defeated and I wanted to escape. My whole Christ-centered day was on the brink of turning into a Mommy Tornado of Wrath. (Please tell me my children are not the only ones who've experienced a Mommy Tornado of Wrath.)

But over the next hour, the Lord gently gave me the same reminders he'd been giving me all day. I wanted him to get glory for what he'd done for me during my day full of nothing but ridiculous first-world problems that all added up to what felt like a legitimate problem. I was one woman (okay, I really still feel like a girl) trying to fulfill God's calling on her day to be a mommy to sinful children and a wife to an almost-but-not-quite perfect husband and an encouraging friend and a thorough maid and a decent cook and a prayer warrior; and no matter where you live or what kind of appliances you have, sometimes it's hard.

Isn't it supposed to be, though? If we're fulfilling God's plans for us, there should be something in there that causes us to fall at his feet in complete dependency on him. Because, otherwise, he's not getting any glory and we're not experiencing what it means to abide in him.

Maybe he knows that, for Amy, it shouldn't be that hard to have a happy heart and give thanks for all the blessings she has. So true. But he also formed my inmost parts and understands the weariness and the internal struggles that just come with being all the things he's ordained for me, a girl made of dust, to be.

So he gently calmed me, picked me back up, reminded me of where I get the strength to do the things that need to be done, and allowed me to salvage what was left of my day with a pretty good attitude. He kept the beast, who wanted to be whiny and demanding when my husband got home, at bay and helped me to just smile when, exhausted and ready for day's end, I still had to give a still-fussy toddler a bath, entertain a seven-year-old by teaching him math, give my school girl a little attention, and keep a four-year-old from bugging the stew out of his siblings.

Even when my life is basically a little pile of not-so-big first world problems, I still need the sufficiency of his grace in every moment, and I'm thankful that it reaches even to spoiled, first-world girls like me.


  1. Oh me Amy, I had a morning of Mommy Tornado Wrath yesterday and it was pretty horrible. But today is a new day and God hasn't changed and Jesus hasn't changed, but He is changing me. Thank you for this reminder that all we can do is run and cling to the cross and its message and pray that the Spirit will change us.


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