This is my second post of the day. Please scroll down to the Gratitude Journal for the week.
This weekend, our thirteen-year-old son Nick was faced with a paralyzing choice: go see the movie Jack Reacher with his father or invite his friends over. How in the world is a young man to make such a difficult decision? He wanted to do both.
As I watched Nick struggle with his painful choice (and, boy, did he struggle), I wondered why sometimes decisions--even simple decisions--are so hard to make.
Nick hemmed and hawwed about his choice for so long that the movie ceased to be an option. His friends came over, and they had a great afternoon.
But it got me thinking. Whenever we make a decision to do one thing, we're giving up all the other options in that moment. We're making a sacrifice.
And who likes to sacrifice? Don't we want it all? Doesn't society tell us we deserve it all, are entitled to it all?
Society lies. It lies.
We hear the message in advertising. Doesn't everyone deserve the latest iPhone, iPad, and iPod? Of course you wanted a car and not a tacky sweater for Christmas. Those two things are equal, right?
We hear it in world politics: how many countries are in deeply serious financial trouble because spending has outstripped revenue? Those governments are making necessary sacrifices, and people are unhappy.
We hear it in military action: how connected are we to the sacrifice our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen are making right now? Do you know how much they sacrifice even when they don't go to war? Trust me. Every military service member makes enormous sacrifices to do jobs the rest of us don't want to do.
Whether your decision is benign and insignificant (sacrificing Taco Bell for McDonald's for lunch), big and scary (buying a new house, changing careers, having a baby), or life-threatening (choosing one cancer treatment over another, joining the military), it's a sacrifice.
Daily sacrifice is necessary, unavoidable, inescapable.
When we turn sacrifice into a big, bad idea, something to be avoided at all costs, instead of a standard part of everyday life, we give ourselves and our children the false impression that we can have it all, that sacrifice is always an uncomfortable, unpleasant thing to be avoided at all cost.
Through lack of practice and a sense of entitlement, we lose the ability to make good and worthy sacrifices, to make positive decisions for our own good and the good of others. We hem and haw and waste energy trying to do the impossible: have it all.
What would your grandparents' generation think?
What sacrifices have you made or do you need to make? What big decisions are looming for you that scare you or make you wonder what you're giving up? Do you struggle with little decisions? What helps you make necessary sacrifices?