I think our culture is one of consumers and the means to consume. When I think of how I grew up, it seemed that personal relationships and family were very important-this is a dynamic that still exists however less time is now spent on this focus. It seems more time is now spent on accumulation and the means to accumulate, it’s even an admired trait. With this new focus, there is less time spent on building non-business relationships, community-involvement and faith. We have more money to spend on life and less reason to live it.
I started this column while working in our cattle pasture. I am trying something new in that we are spraying liquid fertilizer on our grass and legume mix. As I was finishing up, I thought about how good I felt trying to improve what we already owned. I thought about how common it is to feel good about drilling-down into an activity, a practice or a relationship.
An old mechanic once told me that you don’t really own a tractor until you’ve done some work on it. He was totally correct as I really started to build a relationship with that old tractor as I did maintenance and a little repair on it. It was almost like accepting that the tractor had flaws and helping it deepened our “friendship.”
I had another good piece of advice from another mechanic, my brother Darrel. He said that I should not worry about owning old tractors because even new equipment sometimes has problems. New stuff has less problems but they also cost more which makes any repair harder to accept. You have to get what you like and accept what reveals itself as a result.
Okay, this is not a tractor tutorial-I’m just using examples with which I am familiar. I am concerned with the direction in which our culture is pointed. We are so concerned with the appearance of success and amount of friends that we have forgotten what success truly is and have failed to develop friendships any deeper than just a few common interests.
I believe that this life is basically practice for the next life. We are here to use what we have and what we have learned to prepare ourselves for Heaven. If all you do with your blessings is create more blessings for yourself then I think you are missing out. By learning how to deepen your relationships, not just accumulate more, you are teaching yourself how to know God. It is actually the one gift of struggle in a relationship where you learn acceptance, forgiveness and build your own character.
The rewards of life are less tangible than numbers or totals. It is an accumulation of skills that allow you passage into the relationships on earth that will make you more able to understand the relationships in your next life. At least that’s what I believe. Belief is a good thing, so are friends and family that you truly understand and have added to their lives with your care and true friendship. It is possible that the purpose of our lives is pretty simple although not easy to learn. It is a goal in which you need to invest time.