It was a little over a month ago now that I had a conversation with a friend that made me think quite a bit about the ways that I compromise for what is good enough instead of really pursuing what is good. It was eye opening to me because I typically don’t consider myself a person of compromise.
I am the girl who prayed for two years for a VW Cabrio with a black body and tan top, CD changer, cloth seats, and manual transmission and begged my dad for that car for the same amount of time. What was sitting outside on my driveway on a sunny June day the week I graduated from high school? That exact car, to a “T.” That’s no compromise, people.
My dad has since told me that the biblical character I most remind him of is the persistent widow.
Anyways, this conversation revealed in me how I can satiate my desires for what’s good with things that are good enough. I saw this in the way I spend my money. Have you ever wanted something and bought something “good enough” instead? I’ve largely stopped doing this because I know myself by now well enough to know I always end up going and buying the real thing eventually and the “good enough” purchase becomes a waste of money. But I’ve been saying “no” to a lot more small purchases because I think, “Do I want this instead of a house one day?” or “Would I rather have this than a comfortable retirement?” because those small purchases add up and I could be putting the money into my savings or Roth IRA account. All the sudden a great deal on Le Creuset Stoneware doesn’t seem like such a good deal (I did actually walk away from a $5 LeCreuset baking dish the other day — which I’m now regretting. That is a really good deal.)
I saw this with the way I satisfy my desire to be married and have companionship with a long line of guy friends who fulfill a certain role. I used to think that if I wanted to be more than friends with these guys then that made the friendship okay, but more and more I’m in friendships where I don’t actually want to be more than friends and I still enjoy the comforts of friendship either way. I’ve realized that I settle for “friends” because I actually feel much more safe. Nothing is on the line, I don’t have to sacrifice the way I would if I was in a relationship or care for them above myself the way I would have to either. There’s none of the awkwardness of those early stages of dating. It’s a very convenient set up. I get all the benefits of a relationship with a member of the opposite sex and none of the risk or sacrifice. That’s an attractive option, I don’t care who you are.
I realized the problem is that precisely because there is no commitment (which comes with it risk and sacrifice) there is also no permanence (which comes with it depth and security). These friendships are a temporary fulfillment of a lasting desire and when that companionship fades the desire remains. You’re left empty handed, having sacrificed the pursuit of something good for the comfort of something that was good enough.
I saw this in other areas too. I saw the way I update my Twitter or Facebook account and don’t have to update my actual friends. One of the great things about having close friends or dating someone is having someone to talk about all the stupid little stories and details of your day. Now, you can tweet those to a mass who may or may not care instead of telling someone who you’ve developed a close enough relationship with that they actually do care. The same is true of blogging (yep, even this very blog post). Instead of sharing my thoughts with a friend, I can write them to a mass audience who can choose to read or not. And all of those desires for close, deep, mutual, caring friendships are satisfied with things that are good enough.
I’m not saying that LeCreuset bread pans, guy (or girl) friends, Facebook, Twitter, or blogging are wrong, Actually quite the opposite. I’m saying it’s the very fact that they are not wrong that can be deceiving. It’s their innocence that makes it easy to settle for them. But I did take some time and made myself text or call actual people instead of updating Facebook and Twitter, and sit down and discuss my thoughts with actual people instead of blogging, and I started an actual Roth IRA instead of making small (but very pretty and sometimes even functional) purchases, and I’ve made it a priority to invest my time in ministry for the Kingdom and my lasting relationships with my family and closest friends.
It’s been good for me.
So I guess I’d ask you the same thing, how are you settling for the good enough instead of pursuing after what is good?