I’ve been thinking a lot about my own greed and materialism lately. I know I’ve written about these things before, but I think I need a constant reminder of where I’m at and what I’m working for. Who I’m working for, really. The realization that I came to recently was twofold:
1) I have never been so generous with anyone that I gave something that was over and above what I thought I could afford. Sure, I’ll give money to charities here or there. Let’s say I put $20 in a bell ringer’s can. What does that matter? Is that generous? I hardly feel it. It’s not that the person on the other end doesn’t appreciate that extra $20. It’s that I didn’t feel the giving. It didn’t hurt me. It didn’t take anything real from me. It didn’t take something I would have preferred to keep for myself. There was no sacrifice involved. And for those reasons, I’m coming to the conclusion that it was never generosity in the first place. It was me trying to convince myself that I’m a good person by not being completely stingy.
2) I am tired of spending so much time and effort chasing the American Dream. Comfort, security, happiness, contentedness. I spend so much time chasing after them. Why do I go to work during the day? What do I think about at night? What do I spend my time talking about with my friends? Usually the answers to those questions are somehow related to the things I’ve listed above. It could be money, or the latest cool toy, or gadget, or game, or music, or movie. It’s all designed to pad our coffins, so we don’t feel like we’re dying. But we really are. It’s not an American Dream. It’s a nightmare. I don’t want to worship at that idol any more. It’s boring, and it’s safe.
I’m not diluted enough to think that I can conquer this in one fell swoop. I’m not “finished” simply by realizing this. This can only be the beginning. When I realized all this, I also realized that I needed to go somewhere for a little while where I could learn more of the truth about these things, and where I could work out this stuff in myself.
A couple weeks ago I was invited to be a part of a small, independent group of men going to Pascagoula, MS to be a part of the hurricane relief effort. I talked with Steph about it, and prayed about it, and got some pretty quick answers, so I’m going. Eight others are going with me. We leave tomorrow morning at 5am and get back this Saturday. It’s not entirely certain what we’ll be doing each day, but it involves sheet rock, insulation, hammers and crow bars. The folks down there have been flooded out of their homes, and many have no insurance, and no way to get back in. Their walls and floors are rotted and unsafe. There are widows who have no family or money. Their American Dream has crumbled before their eyes, and they had only a few days warning. I need to see that first hand, and try to help. I know I can’t fix the problem, but I think the reality of the problem can begin to fix me.
See you in a few days.