The American Dream: Is it worth it? Part 1
By Carly** because of Carly’s work she is unable to disclose her full name
God has spent the last 6 years of our life together dismantling the belief systems we grew up with, toppling one domino at a time, or knocking out a whole bunch in one violent sweep. Just one portion of those dominos includes ceasing to chase the so-called American Dream to living the life that God has called us to. Armed with some great advice from Dave Ramsey, some help from our parents to pay off massive medical bills, along with our complete paradigm shift from those toppling dominos, over the last several years we committed to pay off all credit cards (which we never use now), pay off both of our cars, and reduce our bills to a small stack after ridding ourselves of things that aren’t necessities or essential to us (cell phones, cable TV, etc). We don’t miss them. The stuff we do have doesn’t own us anymore, we don’t live in fear of losing the “valuables.”
As Jesus said, “Beware of ALL kinds of greed” (Luke 12:15). Well, we are working on that in every aspect of our lives. The process can be slow and sometimes you backtrack into old habits but it is incredibly rewarding. As a result, we have more peace in our lives, and we live in contentment with the blessings we have been given. I don’t need MORE anymore… except I do look forward to tomorrow morning’s 16 oz. white chocolate mocha, 2 shots please. We all have something.
We aren’t alone. Many peeps in my generation are pushing back on the notions passed down to us concerning this “American Dream.” It is elusive to those of us who have had a reality check and realize that the only way to attain the American Dream if you haven’t already, as of the Milllenia…is through slavery to your creditors. The people who are still running after it are either really lucky, inherited tons of money, are in debt up to their eyeballs while they believe the lies their creditors tell them, or they got in on it just before the crash in 2008. The formula that worked for our parents spelled disaster for us.
Not only did our home value go upside down after the crash, but like many other people in our age-group, we never saw a raise from the moment we entered the career world 7 -10 years ago. Every year of inflation, was a step back until we were shoved pretty hard with my husband’s pay-cut. Thankfully that was temporary.
We were asked to take on more responsibility or run entire departments for our employers…but without increases in our salaries. That would have been unheard of for our parents. But we were supposed to be patient and be grateful for a job. And we were, but boy we were worn thin financially, emotionally, even physically. It is thanks to the generosity of both sets of our parents that we were able to make it through (even on 2 salaries) without having to foreclose on our home. (More on this subject in Part 2 to be posted NEXT WEEK)
Now, without debt, I can live the life I am called to according to Isaiah 58. I can spend myself on behalf of the poor in my community, take in foster children, pray for and encourage their parents, rather than slave away to pay off a creditor. I can breathe and sleep easy. I can live a life uncommon, this is what Jesus means when he talks about abundant life.
Life has nothing to do with stuff. It isn’t easy but the shift in your values; the peace in your heart, mind and relationships; the amazing unknowable roads you find yourself on following after Jesus, are the twist and turns of one sweet roller coaster ride and I wouldn’t trade it for a thousand Beemers or trips to the Bahamas.
Almost 10 years ago, I married my best friend and it has been a wild ride. From the beginning, we have spent most of our time becoming the adoptive/biological/and/foster parents of three awesome kids. Some highlights that have happened along the way include: going back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree when my daughter was 2. I started out as a vocal performance major and decided I wanted to get a degree that I could use to care for a hurting world in need.
I focused my studies on women and poverty both on a global and local scale. Along with music, these issues have remained my passion to this very day. I traveled to India for a month to study social justice and learned much more than I ever bargained for. I decided to take what I had been learning and apply it to my own life and also to support my local community. I began volunteering in a local non-profit agency that helps low-income women move off of welfare and into jobs with sustainable wages, breaking the generational cycle of poverty in their families. I worked for 5 years with students with disabilities in higher education and recently quit my professional pursuits to become a full time foster parent to support families in our community. Now, I am learning how to align my everyday, ordinary life within the extraordinary context of Isaiah 58.
In the comment sections please share:
What questions do you have for Carly? What things have you done to eliminate debt? or simply to encourage her to write more for Chambers Chaos (I’m trying to get her to make a series)!