Living in New York City, I have access to food delivery twenty-four hours a day. In less than an hour, I can have the best dumplings from Chinatown or authentic Italian lasagna from Little Italy. The options are endless.
When I visit my family in Texas, I quickly realize how entitled I’ve become. You want me to go to a chain restaurant? I can’t get fresh sushi at 3:00 a.m. because the restaurant is closed?
New York is called the city that never sleeps for a reason. Why wait, when I can get almost anything I want right here, right now? In a culture that glorifies instant gratification it feels like the ultimate expression of freedom.
Our society has more access to things than ever before in the history of the world. To be able to communicate with someone on the other side of the planet, and have up-to-the-second news updates is revolutionary!
Yet, is there a price we pay to live in a culture of moral relativism that says chase comfort, do what feels good to you—and as soon as it doesn’t feel good, move on?
Maybe we’ve misunderstood what it truly means to be free. Is freedom merely the ability to do whatever I want whenever I want to? Or is it possible that in our pursuit of living for today we have lost a greater sense of purpose in our lives?
One of the New Testament writers says, everything is permissible but not beneficial. Perhaps meaning we have the ability to do whatever we want to. But just because we can doesn’t mean it’s what’s best.
Think about the discipline and sacrifice it takes for a runner to prepare for a marathon. She follows a rigorous plan for months, and goes to great lengths to make sure she crosses that finish line. She cuts out foods that are inflammatory, wakes up earlier than she normally would to get in a long run before work, and even stays in when her friends are going out so she eat healthy and be ready for her 10 mile run in the morning.
It’s not a matter of right or wrong. She understands that the decisions she makes today impact her tomorrow.
She makes sacrifices for the sake of her goal.
If today is all we’re living for, why not do whatever we want? Why not settle for the good of the here and now?
But when I experience the world around me, I see a generation of people who are depressed, anxious, exhausted, and disillusioned. It’s like we all know, deep down, there’s something more, but we don’t know how to access it—so we keep scratching our itches as quickly as possible.
How do we shift our perspective?
One way is to develop a vision for our lives. Simon Sinek calls it defining your why. When I know I’m headed toward a place of vision I’m able to make decisions in the now—even if it means sacrificing comfort, security, and things that are good—for the sake of something more compelling.
I challenge you to pause, zoom out, and take inventory of your life:
- Who are you becoming, and what is the narrative you invite others into through the story of your life?
- Is what you are doing, your daily rhythms and practices, propelling you to a greater vision than the now? Or are you stuck in a cycle of instant gratification?
- Have you bought into culture’s idea of freedom? How so?
- What is it that you really want?
A few years ago I was in a fog when it came to men. I was heartbroken, and doubted I was worthy of the type of relationship I wanted. So I made out with random guys at bars, and dated guys who didn’t have goals, were emotionally unavailable, and treated me poorly. But I was hungry and desperate for love, acceptance and intimacy. And in that place something felt better than nothing. I settled for scraps because I didn’t know it was possible for me to have the whole thing. I had no vision.
I was living in the moment, but I felt empty and numb. It wasn’t until I started asking some hard questions and being honest with myself that I got clear about what I really wanted in my life.
I connected with what I truly desire—a committed marriage to a godly man of integrity. And I admitted that how I was interacting with men was not moving me toward that goal. Once I did that, things shifted for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good makeout session. But I stopped a lot of my behaviors, and started saying no to the scraps because I wanted to wait for the whole—the whole that I knew I was worthy of having.
And even today when I feel lonely, or get that ping of desire to make out with a stranger, I remember what I truly long for.
What about you?
What is it that you really want?
- In relationships?
- In your career?
- In your family?
- In your fitness?
- In your faith?
I think freedom is the capacity to see the now, and dream for a greater future. It’s the ability to connect to a greater sense of purpose and vision not only for my life but for the world around me. It’s the ability to say, I am free to pursue instant gratification, but I choose not to for the sake of my greater vision. And when I do so, I strengthen muscles of character and integrity, and deepen my resolve.
Can you pause and let yourself imagine the life you really want. Paint a picture of possibility for the future. How would you be living if you were connected to a greater vision for your life?
This post is in collaboration with The Refined Collective Series.