I doubt this will come as a surprise to you, but occasionally I sin. Not very often, of course, just once in a while. One of my more recent outbursts of this unfortunate side of myself happened this weekend. Our four biological sons received coupons for free kids’ meals at Rubio’s.
I didn’t want to eat at Rubio‘s and I passively aggressively let my poor wife know it. When the boys complained, saying they didn’t want to go to Rubio’s, I told them: “Too bad: we don’t get a choice, the coupons chose for us.” That wasn’t fair to her, but I didn’t want to eat at Rubio‘s.
And it wasn’t because I don’t like fish tacos. I do. In fact, I love their beer-battered fish burrito. The fact was, it was a beautiful Spring day in Phoenix and I didn’t want to spend it at some chain fast-food restaurant, regardless of whether or not I actually liked the food. I was being a spoiled wanna-be hipster (I don’t actually want to be a hipster, even if you could actually define what that means, but then again, that’s a sign of hipsterdom, isn’t it?! HELP! It’s a vicious cycle!).
To my credit (because this true story doesn’t really flatter me), I had a moment of clarity during which I told my awesome wife: “Who am I to compain about where we get to eat out for lunch? What a spoiled American I am”. But I didn’t want to eat at Rubio’s and not only am I spoiled American, I wanted to assert my individuality. I wanted to buck against Suburbia. I wanted to eat at a one-of-a-kind restaurant with a cool atmosphere, great food and good music. But I live in Suburbia.
I don’t just live in Suburbia, I live in the epitome of stereotypical Suburbia. There are malls evenly spaced every 20 malls or so, all with the same accoutrements: Best Buy, Red Lobster, Target, and then Lowes and Home Depot across the street from one another just in between each commercial section of town. Our homes all look the same. People get a block or so from their home, open the garage, pull in and close the garage before they even get out of the car. It’s not uncommon to live in an area for years and never even know your neighbor’s name. Our color palate is various shades of beige with a slight Southwest motif. When buildings get older, we tear them down and build strip malls.
I didn’t want to eat at Rubio‘s. But then again, I have visited foreign countries. I have been fed food I didn’t order; sometimes without even knowing what I was eating. And I didn’t complain. Because I was on short-term missions trips. I understood what it meant to live as a missionary, to lay down my own preferences in order to connect with another people group. What if I’m a missionary to Suburbia? If I can chomp on a chicken foot in China without complaining, surely I can eat a fish burrito even if I’d rather not. Man I’m spoiled. Rotten.
I wonder what might change in my daily routine if I lived everyday life with Gospel intentionality? I would go to the restaurant where my wife and I know the server rather than the restaurant I prefer. I would eat a burrito without being a snob. Because God has placed me as a missionary to Suburbia.