Too Much of a Good Thing?

A couple of days after Thanksgiving I sat down to write a post. I actually got as far as getting a couple of words on the editor before I gave up. Why? Because I didn’t want to merely write the kind of post that was expected for the season; and more importantly, I was not feeling thankful. This is not because I don’t have much to be thankful for. Indeed, it would be rather easy for me to name many good things in my life. However, these things that should have prompted thanksgiving contributed instead to the anxiety and stress that eclipsed my sense of gratitude. These good things have ironically created negative results. Is this because they are not actually good, but rather only give the appearance of being good? As, for example, when a person might call it good that they got a huge loan they applied for, but the effect of that loan is that they are in further debt. I don’t think, however, that this is the case with me. Rather, I think that I am relating to the good things in my life wrongly. Particularly, I have too many good things in my life and by taking on so many good things I have become burdened. In writing this, I am reminded of the story of God’s children wandering in the desert relying upon manna for their daily sustenance. Regarding this provision, God gave a command, “only gather as much as you need for a day”. Unfortunately, some of God’s children wanted to secure His blessing on their own terms and as a result they gathered more than they needed. Instead of provision, however, what these untrusting children found is that the manna that they stored up spoiled.

So, in the midst of my thankless anxiety, I have to wonder if I have too much of a good thing, if I have stored up manna beyond the measure that God desires for me.

5 Responses to “Too Much of a Good Thing?”

  1. Simon  

    Good post there Anthony!

    You know, I have said this before as you know, but my trip to India and Katrina struck Mississippi really illustrated that ‘too much of a good thing’ issue to me. Having had, shall we say, ‘an interesting life,’ I feel that I am very grateful for the good things in my life. By good things I don’t mean my convertible sports car, buoyant bank account, the Macs or my TiVo, I mean the basics that I think many of us overlook as good, and instead just view as an entitlement. My health, my wealth (as in I can feed and cloth myself), and my freedom are aspects that I value above all else.

    I felt after my trip to India, that for all our wealth and technology, we have somehow entombed ourselves in fortresses to protect the ‘things’ we have accumulated without realizing that in the process we have isolated ourselves and become disconnected in the most awful of ways.

    The local Indian people I met, many of whom were among the poorest people in the world, we the most open ‘unspoiled’ people I have ever met. They were willing to share their food with us and welcomed us to their mud huts with the warmth of family. They were not connected to the outside world in the same way you and I are. No TV, not cable news, no cell phone or internet, they were essentially cut off from it all, but in their globally isolated villages there was a true sense of connection to one another. They were invested in each other, looking out for one another and one anothers kids, they were a community in a way myspace could never be. never before had I seen or experienced this level of connection, and in my world I am supposed to be connected to it all!

    I feel like we have complicated our lives to such an extent that our advanced western lives have cut us off from each other and God in ways I can’t imagine could ever be reversed. We aspire to ‘things’ that serve only to distract us from making real connections. Our culture is obsessed with storing up ‘manna’ because to rely on anything else would take the kind of faith, trust and connection that I feel we have all but lost in our modern lives.

    Religious leader constantly worry about this sin, or that sin. People march and hold placards getting worked up about the small print of life while 6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. We’ve become entirely disconnected and as if to prove that here I am commenting on the blog of a guy who lives almost on the other side of the world to me. I know you’re name, your wife and children’s name, I flown across a continent to spend time with you, yet I have no idea what my neighbors name is, what he does for a living, where he grew up, or anything about him at all.

    Sorry for the long response my friend. But you touched a subject that I feel strongly about. Great post, good to have you back in blogshere again!

  2. tom  

    As I drove through Fresno at Christmas I noticed the enormous amount of Mini Storage places. Almost as many as there were Starbucks. Yes we have to much. We saw this when we moved. When the movers say that the cost of the move is based on a per pound measurement, it makes you think about what you really need.

  3. Anthony Velez  

    Simon, I think that large part of our disconnection comes from the world within the world that we create through various types of technology. The technology that we create and the way we employ it deeply influences our sense of self and the world around us, and I think it often gives us a sense of autonomy and control that goes beyond what is real and healthy. This idea connects with the idea of “too much” insofar as technology is the means by which we are able to create an abundance, even a surplus. It also connects with the idea of “disconnection” because we can use technology as a substitute (a poor one) for the needs we are hardwired to meet through genuine human relationships.

  4. Anthony Velez  

    Tom, I agree. The Storage Industry is certaily a sign and symptom of what I have heard referred to as Affluenza, which I think is an American epidemic. We are driven to find a sense of who we are, to find a sense of completion through the things we own or the products we use. The underlying message of all advertising is “Without our product (or service) you are incomplete”. In respose to that message I say “I Damn thee hellish lie!”

  5. Simon  

    I’ve often thought to myself that a charity should maybe do an ad campaign that takes L’Oreal’s “Because I’m worth it” idea and turn it on its head. The L’Oreal slogan is clever, because its appeals sends an obvious message while also justifying to some extent the fact that L’Oreal products are a bit pricey. “This hair product is so good, you’re not complete without it, you should spend that little bit extra on your looks today because you are worth it.” Clever stuff. But, if I was running Oxfam or some such charity, I’d show the usual pictures of people, with the small steps they’re taking to get a better life. Then make the appeal and tag it “Because they’re worth it.”