First World Problems


This expression is Levi’s, “Oh my gosh, is that an iPhone in front of me? I want it right now. No – I need it right now. Give it to me or I’m going to have a baby-sized breakdown,” face.

He’s 1-year old.


He doesn’t even know what Apple is yet, let alone the amazing technological developments that have been employed to enable what is a modern marvel of personal communication glory.

He knows his high chair, his bottle, pooping, and blankies. And apparently iPhones.

I can’t help feel a little guilty here, as he sees his Daddy and Mommy with one everyday.

(Okay, mostly his Mommy).

(Okay, okay. Sheesh. Mostly his Daddy).

And I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that the iPhone is a pretty amazing device (Levi’s 3-year old big-brother Judah can navigate an iPad better than many adults I know…a testament to iOS genius).

But as much as Levi is utterly convinced he needs to touch an iPhone, the reality is that it’s one of the last things he needs. (Heck, it’s probably the last thing I need! It’s 4:30am and I can’t sleep, so what am I doing? Thumb-typing this on my iPhone in bed).

No matter how bad our personal turmoil, no matter how badly we desire something, remember that you and I suffer from what I call “firstworlditis” – to play off the Greek suffix -itis, which means to suffer from a disease associated with, in my case, the First World. It’s a condition that affects, well, everyone I’ve met personally who lives in a First World nation.

The main symptom is an overt and seemingly nearsighted compulsion to voice disdain for what we don’t have in light of all that we already do have.

Essentially, we’re spoiled brats.

Forget that our toilet water is more drinkable that most human water supplies on the planet.

Forget that the average square footage of the First World home is palatial by comparison.

And forget that earning a mere $1,200 USD a year puts you in the top half of wage earners in the world.

Lost loved ones? My heart goes out to you. Yet welcome to the infinitesimal emotion shared by those who’ve endured genocide in Africa or Asia.

What really bends us out of shape is the hot water heater breaking, the clothing store not honoring the gift card, Starbucks messing up our drink, the fast food fries being cooked in old oil, having to pay for that unexpected vehicle repair, our spouse needing the car, a stain on our new cotton shirt, the lawn mower not starting, the kids scratching the flat screen TV, our sports team loosing by three, the store ran out of wings, and don’t I deserve to just come home for once and no one ask me any questions?

If you or I have any problems at all, I don’t doubt the very real emotions or frustrations we experience…

…just so long as we keep in mind that they are First World problems, because that’s exactly how God sees them too.

“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”

Genesis 12:2

Take your momentary affliction in stride today, and deliberately, intentionally look how you can bless someone around you with what you’ve been blessed with. You’ll honor The Lord as well as your position of privilege more than you can imagine…and take a giant step away from being a spoiled brat like me.


The Cotter Ring: seemingly mundane, apparently important


I didn’t waste any time putting my boat back in the water for the 2012 season. Even though I haven’t actually sailed her in the last month, getting her ship-shape is often just as therapeutic.

Among this year’s upgrades were replacing the halyards and sheets (we call them lines, never ropes), and purchasing a mint condition main sail from 1978.

As I was getting the rigging squared away over the weekend, I took extra care with one of tiniest items on my boat.

The Cotter Rings.

These little buggers are nothing more than an overlapping circle of stainless steel wire. They’re essentially weightless in your hand, which means they’re easy to drop, and once in the water – bye bye. They’re fairly inexpensive, and probably the last item anyone thinks of when generically thinking of sailing hardware.

And yet, they’re indispensable.

What so fascinates me is that my boat weighs as much as both of my vehicles put together. Her super structure endures thousands of pounds of pressure, harnessing potential energy within vacuums created through the Bernoulli principle, into kinetic energy that’s translated to a lead encased steel keel buried deep in the water producing directional momentum.

In the face of overwhelming natural forces that could literally break a person in two, enter the Cotter Ring.

They’re all over my boat.

They bear almost no critical weight, go almost completely unnoticed, and once I set them for the year, I never touch them again.

Yet without them, I can’t sail.

They hold the Cotter Pins in position at the fixture points of my main sheet blocks, without which I’d have an utterly functionless sail system.

They hold the Cotter Pins in place that anchor the massive aircraft-steel cables to the deck; those cables are called stays and they keep the 29′ aluminum mast aloft.

As I began to look around, I realized that these little rings – as mundane, inexpensive and unnoticed as they are – are just as essential to my sailing season as the glorious sails that get all the attention.


As people it’s easy to compare ourselves to others, those that are seemingly more impressive, more impressionable. We look at what they have and then at what we have; we look at what they can do, and then at what we can do. But in my discovery of the Cotter Ring’s significance, I realized how endearing this little piece of metal was to me, the Captain of the ship.

The game was never for the sails to impress the mast, or the hull to impress the lines. The game has always been to serve the Captain. The Captain finds just as much pleasure with the seemingly mundane as he does with the apparently important. And keeping his perspective in mind is the key to not loosing our perspective.

To the Cotter Ring, the main sail is for more impressive; but to the Captain, both are equal in their value of accomplishing what He first set out to do: enjoy life.