All over America we’re looking to shake the shackles, the shackles of COVID that we’ve been living with for 15 months now.
And it appears the economy is slowing starting to roar back. It’s no surprise really – people have money and they desperately want to spend some to get back those feelings of “normal” that we blindly accepted before March 2020.
But after this unique situation we’ve all been dealing with we see that things are a little, say, crazy?
Home sales prices are through the roof, pun intended. People want to buy but somehow there’s a shortage of houses. More demand leads to higher prices – and people are PAYING them. Apparently it’s a great time to be a realtor.
The list of shortages of items is getting rather ridiculous. Toilet paper and ketchup were bad enough. Computer chips, gasoline, chicken wings, lumber and more at much higher prices. Chicken wings?? Even swimming pool liners are in short supply with shortfalls perhaps expected through the summer.
And probably everyone wants to take a real VACATION after being trapped at home for far too many months. Some folks want to really cut loose and go everywhere – the beach, the mountains, the city, sports games. By car, by bus, by train, by plane. Let’s go go GO.
If you’ve kept up with the news you know that too many businesses have the “Help Wanted” sign in the front window but many have had few takers. Unemployed are out there, yes, but with free money coming from Washington for the foreseeable future the thought is why work when I can sit at home and make at least the same amount?
This has led to many small businesses forced into trying higher wages in a desperate attempt to get ANYBODY to sign up so that their business can run smoothly. Some businesses have been forced to actually close at times during a week because they simply don’t have people to handle duties.
Clearly the chaos of COVID is long from over but this time not from the virus itself. Instead it’s from the aftermath of over a year of forced change. And then toss in the other major events of the past year (George Floyd incident, a major election, etc.) and you have a boiling stew that no amount of Tums will settle.
For years we’ve wondered about what makes people happy. And now that question is truly being put to the test.
Remember the rat race? The pandemic put some serious brakes on it but it’s still very much out there. It wasn’t fun before the virus and it won’t be fun afterward.
What to do? Why is it so difficult to just live with what you have? Why is it so hard to live a calm life?
There’s a Scandinavian term that’s worth remembering – hygge. No, don’t pronounce it HIG-gee. Remember than Europeans speak quite a bit differently than Americans. Instead it’s pronounced HUGH-guh or HOO-guh.
The Oxford dictionary defines hygge as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” The idea is based in Denmark and Norway but the Danes are more well known for it.
Imagine just kicking back with your feet up and a fun beverage in your hands. No work dominating your time, no stress, no hustle and bustle. No chasing the almighty dollar, no 60-hour work week. Nice and slow and maybe with some quiet conversation.
Perhaps the key word in the Oxford definition is “contentment.” In this crazy year and a half we’ve all been dealing with, there’s an idea we should all live with – and yet it seems so elusive.
A recent story says that our friends in Finland view this a little differently but the basics are the same - https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/04/finland-happiness-lagom-hygge.html. There the key phrase is “reasonable expectations.”
Are these new ideas, or just European ideas?
Of course not. Grab your Bible and we’ll read together…
“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” – Ecclesiastes 9:7 NIV
“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure”- Psalm 16:8-9 NIV
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” - Psalm 37:4 NIV
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:11-13 NIV
So – what are YOUR expectations?
Watch the news now – you’ll see lots of stories of many people who will apparently give up their old jobs in search of new ones. “The Great Resignation” is one title for it. People picking up the rat race again in a different place in search of fulfillment – or just more wealth.
For those who know basic economics, rising wages means rising prices for lots of items, and we’re already seeing this. We haven’t seen Inflation like this in many years.
Stress levels are still high. Suicides have increased, even among young people. The idea of living within your means or living with what you have still goes against the American grain.
Our consumer society won’t be slowed down by a pandemic. In fact it’s possible it could grow into a worse situation than before.
Yet so many people say they want peace. How to get there?
Well, you could try the hygge idea. It has its advantages – just relax, take it easy, savor a drink and a warm blanket, live in your means at home.
But hygge alone avoids where that peace really comes from…
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. – Isaiah 26:3-4 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” – John 14:1 NIV
As always, our Lord should always be the focus. Everything we have, everything we are, comes from Him. True peace comes from our belief and faith.
Keep that in mind, and then go ahead and snuggle up with that beverage knowing that you are well taken care of. A familiar verse comes to mind…
The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7 NIV
From George Churchgoer