Some things get passed down from generation to generation and it can be hard for some to determine if they are taught or caught in the process. In every culture and season there is a search for fulfillment whether that is the word used for it or not. Fulfillment tends to be defined as “the achievement of something desired, promised or predicted.” What that means for each person in a culture and generation may vary but it is a common thread from the beginning of humankind.
Most times we learn from those older than we are the things we can choose to do to gain what we see as fulfillment because we are told not to expect that it just happens serendipitously except perhaps in very very rare cases.
That taught us something was required of us to gain the fulfillment we sought.
That meant that if we didn’t want to work in the fast-food industry for the whole of our adult lives, we would need to gain some skill sets and work to move into something different, better, or more. Our daughter’s first job beyond babysitting was working at a root beer stand nearby for $1.10 per hour plus tips (not large as you might guess). She knew that was not the end goal for her and when she worked all different hours in retail stores at a large mall, she knew that wasn’t her choice as well. She might not have been sure of what she ultimately wanted to do, but by the time she was well into high school she knew what she didn’t want to do. The same was true of our son who worked a variety of jobs through high school and college including working for his dad in a local home center job where one of his assignments was cleaning the restrooms.
No question that each had other dreams and their early jobs required them to do things they did not enjoy gaining work experience as well as money to pay for their first car, gas to fill it, and other non-essentials we provided.
That was not dissimilar to my husband and I as well as the parents we came from. And as we moved through adulthood, it became clear that not everything we hoped for was in that first sought-after job or position. They ALL required two things: work and sacrifice.
Neither of those two things were things that we delighted in, and we began to learn them before we entered the working world. If we wanted to be in a high school band and play first chair, it meant hours of practice. If we wanted to compete in sports, it meant hours of training in the early morning when we preferred to stay in bed or doing the later afternoon hours when it was hot, or we had homework to do.
Some of us hated those things like practicing and gave up those dreams of making the first chair, the lead in the musical, or the winning touchdown in the championship game. We were not a fan of the hours of work and sacrifice that it meant to go after those prized spots. For some of us, those habits continued beyond school, and we felt often that things weren’t fair, and we deserved more than we had and couldn’t understand why it just didn’t happen or wasn’t given to us for one reason or another.
But those qualities of needing to work and sacrifice can be seen thousands of years ago. If you read the Old Testament stories you discover a lot of them. One that leaps out to me is the story of Jacob who wanted a beautiful young woman named Rachel to be his wife. To get her, her father said he would need to work for him for seven years and so he did since she was so lovely the years seemed not so long. But at the end of the time, his future father-in-law tricked him and gave him Rachel’s sister and when he confronted him about it, his father-in-law said he could have Rachel too but would need to work another seven years. Talk about work and sacrifice for the man who was known as a deceiver and had always gotten his way by cunning until this point in time.
But there is even a better example in scripture. Humankind messed up out of disobedience in the Garden of Eden at the very beginning and had no idea it would cost them so much as well as all who came after them. Separation from God was not at all what they expected it to be. But God wasn’t surprised at all and He had a plan to reunite humankind with Himself if they desired it. Jesus offered to do the work and make the sacrifice to make it happen and when He did so, some still wouldn’t believe it or accept what was then a gift.
And here we are in 2022, 1,992 years since Jesus did the perfect work and gave the greatest sacrifice and many still miss it because they want just a little more of the good life or they miss what cost it was to God to provide it. Some still look for fulfillment on the wide road that looks like it won’t require much along the way. The road is nicely paved, and the scenery is appealing compared to the narrow path through the mountains to follow Jesus. It makes it evident that we missed that work and sacrifice would be required of us always to gain fulfillment except in this one gift from God that cost Him everything to give.
Here and there you will see modern day examples of it, but it seems rarer than it may have been at one time. Sometimes you will find someone working two or three jobs to make a way for a child to have a chance at those sports or music groups even though those jobs are not great, and it means time away from family. Sometimes you will see a stranger leap into action to help someone in trouble, but far too often we see stories on the news of someone in trouble with bystanders only taking video on a phone because it might cost them too much to call for help or jump in.
Are we no longer modeling these essential requirements or have the goals ceased to seem worth it or be something someone else should just give us?