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?