Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Letting Go of the American Dream

A Harvest of Blessing

Today, I'm joining Madison and Chantel's linkup for building community.  
This post is something close to my heart.  Thanks for stopping by.

I read this article last week and it has stayed with me since.  The article describes how the American Dream is no longer affordable.  My next thought is...has it ever been?  When I speak of affordability, I'm not talking about papers in a wallet or coins in a pocket that can be exchanged for goods in a marketplace, but rather our mind's focus, our heart's beat.  Has it ever been affordable to pursue the American Dream at full gusto if we neglect those around us and furthermore the One who gives all in the first place?

This article shook me because growing up I felt it was a goal to be a financial success, to have the car, the house, the career, the family, the whole nine yards and I don't think in and of itself, it is a bad thing to set goals, to have vision, to pursue your best.  The trouble is, though, that sometimes our focus on goals can shift our hearts toward something different than it was created for.  It is so easy to let the stirrings so embedded in our culture spur us on for more and more that we neglect the pause and rest we need to pursue the dreams our Creator has gifted to us.  These dreams may very well include the house, the car, the family, the job, but what if they don't?

The article I read caused me to pause because it describes an idea that has been woven in the American culture practically from the beginning and for much of the time, it was a dream that for many people became attainable.  However, even in those years of prosperity there were many for which it was far from affordable.  And now, the reality hits that for the majority of Americans, this idea will always be out of reach.

What do we do with this?

We can chain ourselves to the dream anyway and pursue it with abandon, hoping that one day maybe we will be counted among the few that taste its sweet reward


we can let it go.

What does that look like?  How does that feel to turn around and face the cultural and societal norms that are screaming so loud that sometimes we can hear nothing else and say no?  Saying no to looking a certain way or having a certain thing.  Saying no to feeling empowered because of where we rank in the societal order or feeling distraught because life hasn't measured up to all we hoped.  Saying no to measuring success and failure by stuff and position.  Saying no to these societal traps and cages that bind us and keep us from living the life God has created us for.

And in letting go of the American Dream might we be embracing the true hope that many sought when they journeyed from other lands to find solace here?  Freedom.  Before manifest destiny took over the hearts of men and women, before shots were fired and blood was spilt due to envy and greed that seeped into our pores.  Before all of that, wasn't freedom the hope?  Wasn't it the reason so many sold everything they had to escape whatever oppression and tyranny they faced in their home country?

It seems that same oppression and tyranny has followed us here, but perhaps instead of being dictated to us through a governmental power our outside entity, it has seeped into our minds and souls until we claim it as our own.

I find myself sometimes stuck in the quicksand of doubt, fear, anxiety, jealousy, depression, and agony over whatever situation I find myself that didn't follow this construct I have built in my own mind for how life should be, but it is in those moments that I pause and am learning to say no because sometimes I forget I have a voice.  Sometimes I forget there is another option.  Sometimes I forget there is another way, in fact, the only Way.  Sometimes I forget that if I will let go of whatever dreams I've constructed through society's lens, I can run fast into the arms of my Creator and Redeemer and begin dreaming through His lens, which is the only one that will bring true clarity to God's plans for me.  With that view I remember what is important and if I will begin there and seek my solace and my freedom in Christ, I will always find Hope.

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat/