how much is enough?

I’ve been back in the US for about a week now. At times I have felt at home; other times I can’t help noticing the differences and feeling like an alien in a strange land. So many things here are bigger, cleaner, more organized and more modern. Streets are smooth, aisles are wide, packing spaces are huge.

On the other hand, people seem busier. They “eat and run”. They are constantly connected to their technology – even in the middle of our conversation. I have to remind myself that is normal behavior here and not get offended. People have SO MUCH STUFF, but they talk about always wanting more. My mind wanders to the memories of children without shoes, one room homes without indoor plumbing, adults who don’t know how to read…

A few times I have been literally overwhelmed by the number of options available. Shopping at Walmart with my sister caused me a few “I’m freaking out!” moments. Rows and rows of cereal, cheese, coffee and bread varieties. I stood completely jaw-dropped in front of the ice cream doors… how do you ever decide? How many kinds of ice cream can there be?

My next shock came as we filled our cups at a new touch screen self-serve soft drink machine. There were about 16 first options on the screen: Coke, Pepsi, Danzini water, Powerade, Rootbear, Sprite, Lemonade, etc. … but each of those choices led to a second screen with five to eight additional options: cherry, orange, vanilla, raspberry, lime, cherry vanilla, caffeine free and more!! … and of course, you could mix drinks if you wanted… a practically infinite number of combinations! How many different drinks could people want?

Anther day we visited a craft store. Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations are already available… next to the red, white and blue for the 4th of July. Innumerable candles, baskets, ribbons, silk flowers filled my vision. The scrap-booking aisles took my breath away… so many stickers, papers, buttons, and miniature decorations!! How many paper options can a person need?

It seems I keep asking myself, how much is enough? Ask my husband, I tend to really like options. I don’t believe nice, decorative things are bad… even God created many beautiful parts of creation that don’t have a defined useful value… they are just pretty and display His glory. I don’t believe it is somehow more inspirational to live poor. I think many of these options I am experiencing demonstrate incredible creativity, ingenuity and a desire to make things better and meet people’s needs. But, sometimes there are obvious gluttony, selfishness, and entitlement attitudes present…. I don’t have an answer, but I am asking the question.

What do you think? How do you know… How much is enough?

12 thoughts on “how much is enough?

  1. I can’t even imagine how overwhelmed you must be. It’s overwhelming to me sometimes! It takes 5 minutes of staring at the shelf to find the size and brand of ketchup that on sale! That’s one of the reasons I’m a big fan of Aldi. If you want ketchup, they have one size in one brand. Same for everything else in the store.

    Anyhow, I really enjoyed this post! I’m looking forward to reading about more of your transition to the states. I think there must be some wonderful life lessons that you will be able to share with us!

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Rebecca! I appreciate your empathy… and your choices are X 4 !!! We never stop learning in this life! I look forward to hearing more from you also!

  2. Great article my friend….Keep it simple…it will keep you sane and appreciating the small things in life! miss you

  3. Terry, I loved reading this! As a mom of young kids, I often wish my choices were just given to me. What diapers, what baby food, what toys…etc….When my kids just like to play with the boxes and pots and pans anyways:) I have always lived here and I get overwhelmed A LOT! Thanks for posting this. Oh and those coke machines are just another thing my kids fight over….Thats when I say, “water for all!” I always enjoy reading…I hope the adjustment back is going well.

    • Thanks, Jerilyn! Oh, I do remember how overwhelming the parenting decisions can be… and so many different opinions… talk about options! … actually water is better for all of us!

      We are really doing well so far… not sure if a more drastic shock is still to come, but very grateful for all that God did to make the move go smoothly… and enjoying precious time with family…

      Thanks for your encouragement – I look forward to hearing from you again!

  4. Hi Terry,

    Well, as a regular shopper, I think retailers get a little carried away. I saw one of those funky drink machines at a restaurant yesterday. I went straight for the unsweet tea, my friend chose water. Granted, just drinking water and eating fresh fruits and vegetables is a little boring, turns out it’s really the best way. But, all those retailers are trying to make a life for their businesses. Maybe they should plant more gardens!

    • Great idea, friend! 🙂 There are certainly many of us who could choose to invest time/energy/$ in more worthwhile endeavors that would bring more benefit to all… (I am trying to eat more fresh fruit and veggies myself!) Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!

  5. I remember that same feeling when I moved back too. Though remember all the rice, bean, and oil options at MexiWalmart? Haha. But it is hard. Totally understand you on this but don’t have an answer…good reminder. I gotten used to the options I am afraid. 😦

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