My mother-in-law and I canned 115 pounds of peaches the other day. Every summer, I grunt and moan about canning. Although I enjoy it more every year, I still bite my lip and roll my eyes over the amount of work.
Work. What makes me think that things should be easy? Somehow, society has warped us into not only desiring an easy life, but also thinking that we deserve it or we’ve earned it.
I think about the generations before us — making food on the wood stove, the farming, the harvesting, the laundry.
I then think about the generations we are raising. They’re learning that it is easier to email or text than talk with someone. They’re learning that everything is supposed to be easy or effortless.
Just look at smartphones. How many apps does one need to make life easier?
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)
Do you remember what it was like when we didn’t have cellphones? I sure don’t remember walking around saying, “Wow, life is really hard with these phones hooked to our walls.” But when it is given to us, we can’t imagine life without it.
I complain about cloth diapers because it is too much work. I gripe over canning delicious fruit because it takes all day. I stomp my feet that I have to work out to stay healthy. And if I’m tired, I will complain about cooking dinner and grab takeout.
I don’t just see this pattern only with the small things. I see it with the big stuff as well — parenting, marriage, finance, careers, health and faith.
Do we quit relationships because they get hard? Do we work hard and save long to buy something we want, or do we use a credit card? Do we not go to church Sunday morning because we’ve “earned” a sleep-in morning?
It seems like our daily life is on a time card. When we decide we’ve hit the limit on hours of hard work, we clock out. Furthermore, everyone has a personal definition of hard work.
The stay-at-home mom and employee dad know this conversation all too well. Dad thinks Mom gets to play with the children all day and watch soap operas, and Mom thinks the office sounds pretty nice compared to a day of nonstop spit-up, diapers, tantrums, cooking, cleaning and laundry.
In every situation, we have to be honest with ourselves. Since when did we start expecting everything to be easy instead of appreciating life when it is easy?
My husband is the hardest worker I’ve ever met. I can count the days on one hand in our entire marriage that he has sat on the couch and watched television. He is passionate about taking every moment to “be productive” and this is because he works for God — a purpose bigger than anything else. I’m thankful he has opened my eyes to what hard work can achieve.
When I began working out almost every day and eating right, that is when I got the healthiest. When I actually followed through with the rules I wanted to establish as a parent, that is when we saw changes in our child’s behavior. Even though there are times I want to just walk out the door because of an argument with my spouse, working it through has made us stronger than ever.
It is during these times that choosing the harder route led me to reaping the richest harvest. It might take serious discipline, lots of sweat and may go against all your natural tendencies. But I challenge you to pay attention and begin putting forth a little effort into these precious lives we are given.
When you put all your love, sweat and tears into your marriage, your children, your health and your faith; when you get off the couch and really put care into everything you do — that is when you really live.
And that life looks as beautiful as rows and rows of canned, glowing-golden peaches.