History is a fascinating business: to see, with the 20/20 vision of the present, the themes of years past; to study eras from beginning to end with the comfortable assurance that you have already read the last page of the story and know whether the bad guys won or lost. Being a Christian brings, of course, an even great poignancy to the events of the past, because we believe that all of those events are leading toward something, serving a greater good.
I fear sometimes that my love of history taints my vision a bit. While my current surroundings seem bleak and dull, times of yore begin to appear rather rose colored. I look back longingly and see romance and sunshine rather than disease and deprivation. This starry-eyed longing for days gone by is usually directly proportional to the stress and frustration I am experiencing here and now. “Oh those pioneer women,” I say to myself, “they never had to deal with doctors’ waiting rooms and crowded grocery stores.” Of course, they also had to deliver their own babies, often dying in the process, and they had to eat whatever they could manage to grow themselves. When we near the end of some sports season or another (currently it’s soccer), I begin to corner Jim, threatening to pull the kids out of all their extracurricular activities and move to the backwaters of Montana, preferably with him. Whatever the cause, be it baseball, art lessons or just the social demands of life, I tend to see this harried pace as an obstacle to be overcome, a problem to be solved rather than just a characteristic element of everyday life in the 21st century. But perhaps that isn’t so.
Now there is busyness and there is busyness. Jim and I are fairly conservative with regards to outside stuff. We each have a regular Bible study and the kids have one or two outside commitments that we feel are important. While our schedule does take some organization of the You-pick-up-so-and-so-while-I-stay-at-home-with-everyone-else variety, it doesn’t require strategists from the Pentagon to plan or accomplish. So maybe all my complaining about the pace of modern life is chronological envy or simply ingratitude. Many of the technologies I grouse about (enrichment activities for the kids, slow internet connections, mini vans) bring with them a host of advantages that seem to be overlooked in my quest for “simplicity.” What would a pioneer woman have given to have been able to pile the kids in the car in order to meet a friend at the park, or to email her family thousands of miles away?
This is not to say that we should follow blindly after the latest thing just because we can. But perhaps I need to show a greater appreciation for the era in which I have been placed. It is unique, and a limited number of us will experience it first-hand. If God can speak to humanity through the Black Plague and the French Revolution, then surely He can make something beautiful out of Starbucks and mini vans. You just need the right perspective to see it.