Not Happy Upgrade!

Old Yellow Truck by eqqman
Old Yellow Truck by eqqman

I’m a computer geek, and Internet geek, and a gadget geek. Yes I’m a super geek and proud of it. Being a geek and especially one who’s easily swayed by shiny gadgets, blinking lights, and the idea that there is “an app for that” I upgrade often. I don’t wait around for a new Internet browser I download beta and developer versions so I can play now. When a new version of software comes out I’m upgrading that same day. New hardware released and I’m plotting how much I can sell my old for to lower the cost of the new. I’ve always been one to upgrade as soon as something better came out. With computers this was an expensive hobby so I had to put boundaries in place to keep it under control. Same thing goes for video game systems, software, etc.

It’s not all geek stuff though, look around at your own life and you’ll find stuff you upgrade. VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray. Cassette tapes, to CD’s to MP3’s to streaming radio. 1st car junker, to sports car to family car back to sports car. bunk beds to futon to twin to a queen or king sized bed.

Upgrading is a part of our society. When something changes or goes bad we typically look around and say “is there something better to replace this?” If there is one available we upgrade, if not we either continue to deal with the “thing” as-is and talk about how when the new “version” comes out we’ll be getting that.

My grandparents owned two vehicles the entire time I was growing up, my grandfather only ever had one truck. They never talked about upgrading or getting the latest version. My grandfather was happy and content with his original yellow pick-up and when it wouldn’t run on the highways he still used it every day in the pasture and around the farm. It was never upgraded or replaced and I bet you he loved that rusted out bed, missing 2nd gear, finicky brakes and non-existent windshield wipers as much the day he passed as the day he bought it.

You might be thinking that’s sweet, or that he could have upgraded, or that my grandparents were just old-fashioned. You might be right and then again you could be wrong. I never asked him why he kept that yellow pick-up truck but I was thankful he did.

The problem I’m seeing with our “upgradeable society” is that we toss things away too quickly. As soon as something breaks we weight the cost of repair with the cost of the latest model. If we can justify it we toss the old and buy the new. It’s become a way of life and no one thinks anything of it.

But it’s not just “stuff” we are upgrading, we are also upgrading our relationships.

As an Oasis (Divorce Care) facilitator at my church I deal with divorce and people going through divorce for 13 weeks, at least 2 – 4 times a year. I hear their stories of heartache and disappointment. I see them struggle with the change and the uncertainty of their futures. It’s not easy, it’s not something for everyone but it’s my passion. It’s also a life lesson every time I start and end a group.

I hear at least once a cycle someone say they don’t know who their spouse is anymore. They’ve changed and aren’t the same person they married. They wonder where that person has gone and are finding it hard to love them. They don’t feel the spark, don’t have the same feelings they had etc. Sometimes these are the words and emotions coming from their mouth but more often it’s what their spouse said to them.

What hurts even more is then finding out that the spouse has “upgraded” their relationship. They found someone else to love, to share with, to relate to. They moved on and left this once love of their life to pick up the pieces.

This happens to couples who are married for a couple of years to 20 years and beyond. What upsets me is that I often wonder and want to ask these people “have you changed?” I know the answer, it’s always gong to be a yes I have changed, even if they don’t want to admit it. Why is it we assume that the people we know today are always going to stay the same? How is it that we can live with someone for years and not see this change or be interested in constantly learning the new them? At what point do we stop learning about our spouse and start looking for the upgrade?

My grandfather put a lot of time, effort, money, and love into that old yellow pick-up. He knew the pick-up would get old and change. It would sag, rust, get whiny, and not always work the way it used to. But he adapted, he loved on that pick-up and made sure to always learn the nuances of it as it aged. When he passed away that yellow pick-up was still running but without him to love it there was no option but to give it up.

I wish we would learn to treat our relationships with the same care, love, attention and patience that my grandfather showed that yellow pick-up truck.