Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Whatever Happened to Delayed Gratification?

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in life is how to wait and the value that can be attained in the waiting. It goes against everything in me. I don't want to wait; I want it now. I don't want to wait in line, I don't want to wait for a website to load, I don't want to wait for someone to answer my question - I want it now. My parents stood strong and forced me to learn this lesson - good things in life are worth waiting for. Sadly, we have failed as a society to embrace this virtue nor have we successfully passed it on to our children, as we do not practice it ourselves.

We don't wait for anything anymore. We have premarital sex, because we just couldn't wait. The results are unwanted pregnancy, the cheapening of God's greatest gift to married couples, broken hearts, sexually transmitted diseases, and a whole host of other negative consequences. But we as a society expect this behavior and think those that do not engage in it are weird.

Millions of Americans just couldn't wait for that big house that they couldn't afford. They drove to the store in cars they couldn't afford and bought furniture and electronics that they couldn't afford dressed in clothes they had bought on credit. Society encouraged everyone - consumer spending of course was the fuel for our economy. The fall out? Many are sick with worry, up to the necks in debt, and are screaming for the Almighty Government to come and save them.

We don't even wait to find out the sex of our children! We use all sorts of lame excuses about decorating and planning, but in the end we sacrifice one of the greatest moments God can give to a couple. We throw away the wonder and excitement of waiting for a child to be born to find out the big surprise. We name the child and set an appointment for his birth and then wonder why no one seems to be all that interested in this blessed event. Because we've ruined the surprise. It's like finding out what you are getting for Christmas before Christmas morning, as adults we learn that the surprise is better than knowing, then why do most couples find out the sex? They just can't wait.

The consequences are enormous; individually and collectively we are reaping what we have sown. Ironically, we have still not begun to learn this lesson because we are spending billions of dollars to try and avoid the inevitable pain. The day of reckoning is upon us and we are screaming like spoiled toddlers that we need it to get better, RIGHT NOW! No amount of whining or spending will avoid the consequences; perhaps if it is painful enough we will learn the value of delayed gratification. If not, we are destined to continue to repeat the same behavior that got us here to begin with.

1 comment:

  1. I first learned patience in the Army. "Hurry up and wait," we called it. I did truly learn how to wait in a line, because I had no choice. I also learned how to complain. It's a soldier's right to complain I was told; nothing usually happens as a result, but it's still your right to be able to complain. Usually we were complaining about having to wait in lines. I've been out of the military since 1990. I find I am slowly losing that capacity to be patient. Maybe we should make military service compulsory, and like the Reserves, after the initial first hitch, you have to serve two weeks every year, to reinforce that "hurry up and wait" mentality. Or we can simply visit Washington, D.C. and spend some time hanging around Congress, and experience true bureaucracy and red tape for the same effect. After that, waiting in line for something would seem trivial.

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