This past summer we were visiting my husband’s family in Europe so that they could finally meet the kids, and although I’ve traveled my entire life this was my first big family trip as a mother. Mom life is hard, and naturally whatever I can do to make life a little easier for myself & my family is a no brainer. It wasn’t until spending 6 weeks in Europe that I realized how “convenient” my life was in the U.S. because many Americas prioritize convenience in contrast to other countries around the world.
Things like high chairs offered in restaurants, public playgrounds right and left, air conditioned buildings, drive through fast food on every corner, speedy servers taking orders, stocked vending machines, huge restrooms with multiple stalls, mega shopping malls with everything you could hope to find. Of course there are many of these things in Europe, but not comparable to the extent of the U.S, especially in more populated areas. I think most Americans, such as myself, anticipate and take for granted the standards of services that are sometimes unavailable or unrealistic in many other countries.
We like to make life as easy, quick & comfortable as possible and are constantly coming up with more ways to build a better mouse trap. Who doesn’t want an easier life right? Isn’t convenience just another word for better? For most of my life I would have said “Yes” but today it struck me how wrong I was. Convenience often makes your life harder & less enjoyable by continually getting you into the habit of cutting out the things that matter most in life, which are community, health, education and challenging ourselves.
When you are deciding between making or purchasing a product- such as a bread, how likely are you to never learn how to make your own bread?
On a long day after work would you rather go home and cook a healthy dinner or go through the drive through with hot food ready to go?
When you’re feeling lonely isn’t it easier to grab your phone and SCROLL rather than actually use your phone to CALL someone?
Spending quality time with your significant other investing in a mutual hobby or finishing the 100th Netflix series of the year?
Playing with your kids or distract them with screen time?
By choosing the more “convenient” options in life I have become more lazy, lonely, unhealthy, undisciplined, disconnected, & entitled while also becoming less knowledgable, grateful, gracious and content. Yikes.
YES, we need to have grace on OURSELVES but we’re also responsible to take an honest look over our life and grow in the areas we know we could do better in. And THAT process to evaluate and change from within is probably the most inconvenient thing we could do, so naturally we put it off until it becomes more inconvenient to stay the same than to change. Read that again.
Often times we believe that life is easier by taking all these short cuts but it’s an illusion that leads to an unsatisfying life with a false sense of independence. We’re convinced that we can either do it ourselves or just use a service- so that there is no desire to ask any family & friends for help or try to learn something new. This also accentuates greediness because the more money I have, the more convenient I can live by hiring others to do the hard/ undesirable work for me.
But a good life is inconvenient, and it is WORTH the inconvenience.
It is inconvenient to learn to cook and make healthy meals for yourself & your family.
It is inconvenient to organize playdates or girls nights with your friends.
It is inconvenient to go to the gym and work out.
It is inconvenient to read books or do research on difficult topics or world events.
It is inconvenient to travel, especially with family to explore new places or see loved ones.
It is inconvenient to consistently gather with a group who has similar interests or hobbies and grow together.
It is inconvenient to do activities for yourself, your kids, your spouse, and make room for other events celebrating important people in your life.
It is inconvenient to have conflict and resolve it with difficult conversations or counseling.
It’s inconvenient to get the support and help you need.
Community is inconvenient.
Family is inconvenient.
Mental & Physical health maintenance is inconvenient.
Love is inconvenient.
An inconvenient life is a full life.
Of course there is a balance of using tools and finding ways to help us manage and organize our daily lives- and being convenient doesn’t make it negative! I just had no idea the exchange these seemingly innocent choices I made daily had on my life and now I’m trying to be more cautious and aware of their impact. I used to equate convenience with “better”, “more advanced”, “Life saver”- but there is a dark side and without caution you could get lost in it.
Choosing convenience is also less gratifying because joy often is the reward that comes from an act of self discipline or self sacrifice.
It’s counter intuitive, but the more we serve others the more blessed we are. The more we give the more we receive. Life becomes less selfish and more loving.
Motherhood and marriage have really shown me several areas of myself that I thought did well in- but really there is a lot of room to grow! For example I always thought I was a very patient person, but now I realize I could use a lot more patience! Lean into that and don’t create a “mom hack” to avoid becoming a more patient person and instead actually learn and exercise the virtue of patience. A big one for me is using screen time or snacks rather than working through big emotions around meal times. We all do it, and some days you have to for your own sanity- but it’s not doing you or your kids any favors to develop and depend on bad habits as solutions because they are just adding to the problem and they won’t work for long.
It’s really hard to make the right choice between what is easy and what is good, but oh, how life would be different if we did. That power is within us, and we can create a good life by choosing good habits even when it’s inconvenient.
So as the holidays approach and we’re faced with opportunities to choose between what is convenient for us in the moment and what matters enough to be inconvenienced for others- I hope your perspective is challenged and I wish you an inconvenient full & blessed holiday season with the people who love you. Give within your limits your precious time, unique strengths, friendship, and love.
We only have one life, let’s make it as inconvenient as we can with the ones we love.