I’ve been traveling for the past several weeks with my husband Jamie and our youngest daughter Andreya doing what missionaries do when not on the field: visiting churches and supporters, giving reports of what is happening with the work overseas. It’s been a great time of renewing friendships and meeting new friends.
Nevertheless, traveling so much has given me the unique opportunity to catch up with what’s trendy and new. I have to say, one of the coolest “new” things I have seen has been ordering food online and having it delivered to whatever address is entered into the proper fields. It’s possible to order a complicated burrito without speaking to a human being!
Another crazy new trend is the “virtual assistant” craze. A virtual assistant (or VA) is someone who offers administrative support that can range from making phone calls and writing emails to marketing online. This is something I’ve never even imagined but as I think of it, I can see how in today’s fast-paced society that having a virtual assistant could be a great benefit for certain people.
With the spread of the internet now reaching far and wide, people are able to upload ideas at an amazing speed and, with the right people reading those ideas, they can grow into “viral” trends in what seems to be the blink of an eye.
There’s a medical term, “social jet lag” that refers to the condition of falling victim to erratic sleep patterns causing exhaustion and a litany of other symptoms. This definition hails from the jet lag one experiences when travelling across time zones (a condition that I am well-versed in). However, I have begun to see “social jet lag” in another light. I define it as “the condition one succumbs to when trying to keep up with all of society’s trends.” I’m not sure if my definition will reach the heights of the online masses, but when I try to keep up with all of the trends in society today I feel socially jet lagged!
I remember when all the rage was to keep your roots colored; every 4-6 weeks women would flock to their local beautician to “get their roots done” so they wouldn’t have the dreaded line of “roots” showing. Fast-forward to a few years ago and the “ombre” look became all the rage. “Ombre” is having the longer parts of the hair colored a different color from the roots. Those of us who have been struggling to cover those roots for years became seriously confused. I still don’t know whether to color or not – am I in or am I out???
I remember when having a perm was all the rage – I sure hope it doesn’t come back any time soon. I was so relieved when I no longer had to perm my hair! Give me a hair straightener any day.
I remember when all the rage was to wear panty hose. They had many styles: sheer, control top, ultra-control top, sheer toe, reinforced toe, not to mention the rainbow of colors that were available. These were to be put on by rolling them up and beginning at the toe, you rolled it up over your legs up to your waist. Either the hose would pull up seemingly to your chin or hang uncomfortably near your knees. If they were control top, they served as what felt like a corset (you couldn’t breathe too well wearing them).
Suddenly, after years of wearing hose, that often came in cool egg-shaped containers, someone decided it was time to throw them away. Women everywhere struggled to adjust (and shave their legs more regularly) and some, like me, rejoiced thinking that we would never have to wear hose ever again.
Until someone invented leggings, jeggings, and skinny jeans.
Now women everywhere who had been liberated from the form-altering panty hose flood stores looking for the newest legging, jegging, and skinny jeans.
Aren’t these items simply panty hose with no feet?
Social jet lag, I feel it. I can’t keep up. I can’t be relevant at the pace with which society dictates I keep up.
Thankfully, I’m no longer 25 for when I was 25 I worried far too much about what was in and what was out what people did and didn’t like. I’ve learned as time has passed that it’s impossible to please everyone. In fact, it is very difficult to please more than 1 or 2 people at a time, if even that many.
Pile on top of my inability to keep up with the trends, the fact that I’m a missionary Jesus-lover. What would cause me to leave my own children, grandchildren, extended family, friends, and country? This is a question that is really very simple to answer and is not a very politically correct one: my life is not my own and I live to please Him Who gave Himself for me. I was a case before I came to Him and was on a road whose destination led nowhere but to sadness, but now that I know Him, every day is filled with hope and an expectation for something better. I don’t have all the answers as to how this change came, but I know Him Who changed me and that is answer enough.
This fact pushes me to live for Him and not myself. Don’t get me wrong, it stings to be away and I’m not sure I even fully understand this pull I have with my husband to work in Africa. I cry just like everyone else when saying goodbye; I miss my children and now grandchildren. Yet, I wonder how helpful living here would be for them when God has called their father and I to serve Him elsewhere. What kind of example would that be in the end? What would that teach them?
All of us, in different ways, have been called to serve the King and be part of His Kingdom. This call is not popular nor is it in any way relevant. The Gospel at its core confronts people with their need for a Savior, and this is not a popular message. We definitely need to use culture to appeal to those around us, but we must be aware of the fact that we cannot mute the voice of the Gospel that calls everyone everywhere to surrender to the King and His will.
Paul, when preaching at Athens in Acts 17, he studied the culture of the people (vs. 22,23) and appealed to them through using what he learned. Once he had their attention, he gave them the full download of truth from heaven that included confronting the parts of their culture that displeased God. I wonder how well we would receive Paul’s message today in our approval-driven society.
As approval-driven we are, we might project some of that onto our relationship with God and risk having the loving relationship He wants to have with us. God’s approval of us is not based on what we do; it is based on what He has done for us and our surrender to Him, our understanding that He did it all when we couldn’t do anything.
This life is too short to live for the trend of the moment. Rather, seize life for the adventure it is meant to be and live fully in the moments you have.
“We shall have all eternity in which to celebrate our victories, but we have only one swift hour before the sunset in which to win them.” Robert Moffat