There is this woman I’ve known for years, but have never really gotten to know her. From the outside looking in, I’ve always just imagined that her life was just about as perfect as one could get. You know? The kind of life we all long for; the American Dream. The perfect family with a cute dog, and a nice bank account. The massive house with a housekeeper and a vacation home at the beach. Their yearly Christmas cards feature a collage of all the dreamy vacations they took over the past year that almost make you wonder if you’re the one missing out on a good life.
I’ve watched this woman and her family from a distance for years, with this slight feeling of discontentment in the back of my heart.
I’ve pretty much always wanted the life she has and had convinced myself I would be happy if I got it.
But the other day, I had the privilege of spending an entire day with her. I assumed we wouldn’t have much in common as I’m not exactly up on the upper class minglings of the well-to-do. But what I discovered in those hours of conversations with this sweet woman, was that she and I have a whole lot more in common than anyone wouldhave ever imagined. And if you’re reading this, I am positive, she would with you too.
On that day, in those hours with me, she wasn’t interested in chatter about the latest and greatest vacation destinations or the best skin care regimens as I assumed she might be. She wanted to talk about the things we all really want to say, but are sometimes afraid to for fear that our frailty would be judged or misunderstood.
As I sat across from this beautiful woman; for that day at least, she stripped off the outer shell of her life and let me inside the world of who she was on the inside. And strangely enough, what I saw wasn’t unfamiliar to my own.
We spend hours talking of marriage and motherhood with the struggles that go along with them both and how to balance it all. And how that no one is really ever sufficiently prepared for the realities and hardships of relationships and life in general.
Despite all of the fine cocktail parties with high society acquaintances, she shared with me her stories of extreme loneliness and isolation. Despite her perfectly kept figure and expensive cosmetic procedures, tears filled her eyes as she expressed her feelings that who she is, never quite seems to feel like enough.
We talked of faith, and our own lack of at times. We shared our times of disappointment and anger with God and why at times it feels like He’s left us alone. We talked of religion, the struggle to make sense of it all; the damage it’s caused our own souls, and our own journeys far away from it’s grip.
And I could relate.
To every single struggle she poured out that day.
I left those hours with her, understanding that as people, nothing much at all separated us that day other than maybe the amount of money in our retirement funds and the amount of vacations we’ll each take this year. And that doesn’t really separate us much at all.
In those hours or sharing our hearts, our failures and battles, there was healing for us both to be reminded that the struggles of womanhood, marriage, motherhood, family and faith; are for the most part the same.
No, we didn’t solve the world’s problems, or even sort out all of our own. But there was a measure of hope in knowing that the things we struggle with, the hurts we carry, the questions and fears we posses within in us, the things in our lives that seem dead, are all just opportunities for something; someone greater than anything this world holds, to come and breathe life to.
Longings, that nothing The American Dream could ever bring us, could fill.
All of our own raw inner truths that religion would probably point a finger at; were just beautiful reminders again to me of the truth that there really is only one that can bring wholeness into every crack that needs to be filled, healing to every wound, peace to every lingering fear in our souls, and light to every dark corner of our lives.
It reminded me that as we all search frantically for a better life, the ultimate American Dream, there are many that have already attained that life….. and come up empty still.
And if you were to sit down with them for a few hours and peel back the layers, you would find that even they; the ones that seem to have it all, have found that there really is no good life to be found outside of Christ. They, more than anyone could testify to the fact that our hearts and lives will always come up empty outside of the peace, completeness and fullness that only a life found in Christ can bring.
THAT my friend, is the good life.
You see, I think sometimes we get it all turned around backwards. We waste our entire lives chasing our own definition of the good life. Not even really understanding what it is that makes up a good life, a full life. And all the while, Jesus only ever asks us to seek Him. And He follows it with the promise that then, “all these things” – the good life that HE gives – will be ours for the taking.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
Yes, money and things are certainly nice, and even necessary. But maybe Jesus came to rescue us from this whole philosophy of The American Dream.