God used a Weird Al song and a Reese Witherspoon movie to remind us how silly our complaints can be.
Julie and I came back to the US a little fried from an unexpected transition and a baby that refused to sleep. Consequently, we were a little grouchy and irritable. And as a result, little first world problems started to creep in and affect us more than they should have. It was the little things that set us off: things like the long line at Starbucks (good heavens!), a flat tire on the car, or leaving our credit card accidentally in a public place. Yes, we had other problems that weren’t necessarily typical of the first world, but so much of our rudeness toward each other flowed from frustrations over really little insignificant inconveniences.
Then one week I ran across an obnoxious song by Weird Al that is entitled “First World Problems.” The song isn’t pleasing to the ear, but because I have tended to get his sense of humor, I listened to it once through. Essentially, it’s a mockery of how we first world dwellers really have no idea what real difficulty looks like. We’re spoiled. We complain when our barista doesn’t make our drinks just so or our wifi isn’t working great. These are our “problems.”
The rest of world doesn’t get it. They actually risk their lives to try to even get a taste of our little first world problems. Right now, as my fingers move across the keyboard, there are probably Africans desperately paddling across treacherous waters of the Mediterranean for the mere possibility of living in the Western world. I know some of those guys. They live in Spain near us and peddle illegally burned cds on the street. These guys were willing to die for a chance at problems like mine.
Later that same week, we watched “the Good Lie,” a movie about Sudanese immigrants that come to the US on the heels of losing their families to civil war and genocide. Talk about a sobering film! So many people like the Sudanese rejoice for the chance to be a daily laborer in this great country; they would be ecstatic to take my place in a single bedroom apartment in America or Spain. Shame on me for complaining about not having a guest room, about the fact that I’ll probably never own my own home or won’t probably be able to help my son much with college.
After Weird Al’s song and “The Good Lie,” Julie and I would remind one another throughout the day when we’d let a complaint slip out. We’d say stuff like, “oh boy, these first world problems,” then we’d smile at each other and try to put our inconvenience in perspective.
Let’s face it. It’s embarrassing to even categorize some of our problems as such. God has helped us recognize our sin and be more grateful.