Lifestyles of the rich and famous…

I am pondering… Why do I continually feel disturbed when I see worship of wealth, fame, and position?

I feel I am continually allergizing over having been duped by the values of our culture during the years I bought in to the whole mindset of gaining wealth and esteem.  I see the blindness I was once apart of and shake my head at how, had I not crashed and burned my own life, I would still be trapped in the web of this old thinking.

How much of our “entertainment” is worship of the rich and famous? At least one popular TV show of years past bears these very words.  A large proportion of today’s reality shows profile the wealthy; The Apprentice, The Bachelor, Millionaire Match Maker, just to name a few that I see advertised.  To what end is all of this worship of wealth?  The 2008 meltdown is the best answer I can come up with. Complete failure and corruption.

I am currently living in a process of financial recovery from the setbacks of alcoholism, disability, divorce, and unexpected career changes for both my wife and me.  Previously, I sampled a degree of affluence and comfort for a number of years, and lived among those who enjoyed the same and more.  I was thoroughly soaked in a culture of affluence worship.  Yet the culture and I spoke out of both sides of our mouths.  We were self-deceived thinking ourselves more noble than the shallow people whose affluence owned them.

We stated that our affluence didn’t own us, yet we practiced greed and ravenous pursuit of comfort and recognition.  We whitewashed our greed with rationalizations of how we use our accumulation to give, which we did in part, but mainly we were just greedy and too entrenched in the culture to be able to see it.

God as I understand Him teaches that we ought to prosper “as our soul prospers”.  Which is widely interpreted to mean that our mind, will, and emotions need to be healthy and strong first in order to handle strength in our incomes and bank accounts.

But who were we kidding that we were ready for any of this?  Others, equally lost in this culture of greed and comfort were most often our sounding boards.  How objective could they have been?

Having been relieved of the inclusion in this culture, I am finally able to ask on a more meaningful basis, ‘What is really of value in life’?  To which I continue to answer, “Peace of mind, health, functioning relationships, and a functioning connection with God”.

Yet I still brush against so many people who are still pursuing and flaunting their wealth and comfort.  None of this to say that success is not a good thing.  On the contrary, my wife and I are working very hard to grow our financial strength through hard work and wisdom.  Yet we do take time regularly to  make sure we don’t get ensnared in the culture we have both seen as hurt us and others.

Today, I get more satisfaction out of teaching my kids how to make good decisions and think wisely for themselves than I ever got out of accumulating money, esteem, or items.  I feel more gratitude for the basic health I have today than for the big house I used to have.  I have more fun and rejuvenation at the beach town a few hours drive away than I did on the cruises and overseas trips I had done in the past.

I don’t care anymore who made a quick fortune.  I am happier that my household manages our finances responsibly, lives within our means, and is slowly and steadily improving our financial strength.  My wife and I are blessed to have started a business as a result of a painful and unexpected job change.  Blessed because it rattled us both to the core, yet this very rattling has allowed us to grow through and with it to a far more favourable places than before.  Not places of vast wealth and comfort, but places of gratitude, prudence, faith, character-building challenges, and an accumulation of small victories.

Yet as things grow, I am ever the more cautious not to buy back in.  I want to avoid, as God as I understand him draws the vivid analogy, being a dog who eats its own vomit.  Meaning to have hurled up something unhealthy only to return to it.

What has wealth and comfort in the absence of growth of character done for anyone? Other than make life a little cushier for a short period?

God, may I never return to that which you spared me from.

Ciao.

Chaz

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About Chaz

Husband, father, brother, son, friend. Sober member of AA. Grateful for the life God gave me and for the happy struggle of recovery.
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15 Responses to Lifestyles of the rich and famous…

  1. Caddo Veil says:

    Bravo, Nephew!! It’s a pity that so many can’t see ahead to the typical COST of all that affluence, and be spared the terrible crash and burn experience which affords new wisdom and values–IF they are willing and able to see and hear truth, surrender and make the good choice to seek after God, who offers a life overflowing with wealth. “Rich and Famous” are all about attitude, really–and you’ve heard me say it before–I am abundantly blessed to be wealthy in “little”, because my Father is the BIG GOD. If I sound like I’m preaching, I apologize–but if I sound like I’m bragging, Well–I AM!! Love and God’s blessings to you and your family, Chaz~~Auntie Caddo

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Auntie Caddo!

      In my experience, most people are often willing to see and hear truth, they are just not able because they simply don’t have to yet. Life has not yet required them to look beyond the culture around them, including much of the North American Church Culture, that not only lives in the culture of greed for money and fame, but in my experience, promotes it.

      In AA, we talk about being beaten into a sense of reasonableness. Basically, we ran out of options and places to run. There were no more cushions to land on, no more buffers to protect us from the folly of our selfishness. Our selfishness took us to the birnk of death and smothered us in the stark pain of our choices, thinking, and behaviour.

      Comfort and wealth do not bring a person to such a place. They buffer us from the painful truths that can potentially help us be a better, more realistic person.

      Crazy that our culture keeps us in a sick by by buffering us from realities. And the very pain it tries to spare us from the is pain that brings us closer to truth. In my experience anyway.

      Thanks for the reply.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

      • Caddo Veil says:

        You’re right, Nephew–the culture, including many churches, is not blameless–it’s a terrible shame. Just so happy to hear you are doing well–that blesses me so much!!

  2. Debby says:

    I’ve heard something similar many times from men who’ve gotten it “all” only to lose it to their addiction. When they realize what they’ve really lost isn’t material gain but character and the respect of family and friends it can be, though not always, sobering. I read a daily blog by a woman in Canada who talks a lot about gratitude. She wrote a book about it too. It’s the kind of heart and mind I want to have. One of gratitude.

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Debby… yes on all fronts. So many of us, probably including the men in your centre, discover when we lose a lot of our material and financial stuff, that the desire to accumulate was really mainly a reaction to the pain we had inside of our insecurities and fears. We thought we ‘had to’ have things and money. And feared we were valuless and would be miserable without. But we were shocked to discover that when we gained the real things in life, like a healthy self-worth, patience, tolerance, grace, peace of mind… and most importantly, a genuine, functioning relationship with God, that the financial and material medicating is no longer necessary and in fact seems a step down from where we are now.

      And yes, gratitude is so essential. I am so grateful for the smaller house we have, I barely, other than when limited square footage is less convenient for a growing family, I barely or rarely long for more. Would I like more? sure. But do I painfully long for it? No. I love the home we have and I take care of it with all of my abilities. this to me is gratitude in action. Instead of coveting what others have, I am grateful for what I have been blessed with and I treat it like the gift it is. And the almost crazy paradox is that our finances, alghough not as abundant as they once were, are far more stable and secure than they ever were! Because we manage what we have with more wisdom and gratitude.

      I would welcome knowing more about the Canadian you mention and name of her book if you think of it.

      Thanks for the reply Debby!

      Chaz

  3. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
    You know, 10 years on in sobriety, and we are still waiting for this one to come true. When I met my hubby he lived in a 1 bedroom apt, that was barren and sterile. Filled with bottles and discarded food containers. We started with not much and we took what we could and that was it.
    I’ve never been greedy for anything, even alcohol. i was never greedy for greed. neither is hubby, All my in-laws have wealth to various degrees, wealth that hubby and I will never see in our lifetime. That is our lot in life. But we are getting to a place that we have a bit more than we used to and we are grateful and not letting a little success go to our heads. What does it mean to be rich, in this life, love in ones life, a roof over my head and food in the fridge. It might not be much, but we are rich in what we have, not in what we don’t have. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.
    Jeremy

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Jeremy…. I’ve often pondered the scripture you quoted and what it really means. I am not afraid to admit that I do not know for sure what it means and may never until I meet God face to face.

      In my experience, I can’t help but believe that it must, at least in part, refer to how wealth can buffer people from reality and dependence on / relationship with God.

      Is it not interesting that church attendance and identification with faith systems are often reported to be on the decline in wealthy, unoppressed nations like Canada, U.S., Australia, and much of western Europe? While in areas like China and former Soviet Union, where faith, church, and the Bible are often illegal, there are exponentially growing underground churches and Bibles are a hot commodity on black markets?

      I wonder if this scripture points at the tendency for this phenomenon?

      Thanks for your reply. You have prompted much thought.

      Chaz

  4. Debbie says:

    Thank you, Chaz, for sharing your story and your thoughts about the worship of affluence. There was a time when I was reading and following along with that mind set until God shut that door for me. Now, I see why He did and I’m so thankful. 🙂 God bless you and yours as you worship Him today, and do the best you can with your business.

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Debbie…. Thank you for your comment. I too am glad God allowed certain doors in my life to shut. As cliche as it sounds, amazing new doors opened up. Better doors I can safely say.

      I often wonder if God actually spared me from the affluence I once desired? So often our society suggests to us that a financial loss is terrible and the sign of error or failure. Is it though? Or were we limited by our affluence?

      I honestly believe I was … yet out of fear, greed, and who knows how many other negative emotions and perspectives, held tightly to the beliefs that I needed wealth and affluence. I even thinly rationalized reasons why it was essential, often twisting scripture many ways to support my position.

      I do not believe God is against wealth. God himself is wealthy. I just don’t believe many people can actually handle it safely and not allow it to buffer them from a functioning relationship with God.

      Thanks again for your thought-provoking reply.

      Chaz

  5. ruby tuesday says:

    hey Chaz,

    Thank you for this post and for reminding me that I’ve a lot to be gratefu forl. I’m grateful to have a roof over my head and a clean bed to sleep in as it wasn’t always this way
    Today I am grateful to have peace of mind, a lot of the time my mind races and my thoughts sound like a debating society.
    I am grateful to have 2 dogs who do wonders for my mental health and take me away from myself.
    I’m also grateful for my family especially my mother whose strength and courage knows no bounds. I don’t have much money life is rich in other ways.

    Much love x

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Ruby… thanks for the reply.

      I agree, gratitude for the relatively little or common things in life can really help us keep healthier in our thoughts. I am a little uncertain how we can, when we do prosper, make sure we never lose track of the smaller things for which we are currently grateful. Some do seem to have the ability to not let wealth taint them, but they are the exception. Most people become corrupt, selfish, or greedy on some level. They seem to lose touch. I know I often do when things are going better for me.

      For this very reason, I am grateful for the humbling I experienced when I crashed and burned. If I let it have a lasting impact, it will be life-changing in a unique way.

      Chaz

  6. Tommy Simpson says:

    So many people are very down on the rich and famous, and paste every celebrity and person of wealth into one sterotype. I have know a few in this area who have understood the meaning of the Lord’s stewardship. Through their lives, no matter how big they got, they have always put the Lord first. When talking of people like this. I like to talk about the ones who have understood the Lord’s stewardship. I ignore the others, as if they do not count.

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Tommy, thanks for the reply.

      I too have met the type that have been able to handle their wealth and not let it taint or corrupt them. They are in the significant minority, I think you would have to agree.

      I guess the tricky part is how to keep perspective when prosperity does happen. Especially for generations that follow. I know many strong families of Christians where the generations that gained wealth through hard work and blessing stayed relatively untainted. Yet as the generations progress, certainly by the third generation, you so often see people detached from reality. Buffered by the wealth they interited rather than earned.

      Christian and non-Christian alike. Frankly, I know families whose second and third generations, although claiming to be Christians, lead lives no different than anyone else who make no claim of Christianity.

      I accept your caution not to stereotype everyone. I just see a far greater tendency, including in myself, to get complacent, selfish, and self-reliant when I am distanced from the simple realities of life… especially when buffered with wealth.

      Again, church attendance seems to be shrinking in wealthy parts of the world, where in developing parts of the world, including where Bibles and Christianity are not tolerated or even illegal, you often see a growing church.

      Just an observation. I don’t mean to say this is how it has to be for all.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

  7. Keep it up Chaz. Good to see your posts. Also, be sure to see the videos, audios, radio, tapes, and new interviews on http://www.ChristianRecoveryRadio.com. They will fill you with pep and zeal to help the still suffering souls. God Bless, Dick B. http://www.dickb.com

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Dick…. I’ll check out the links. Always glad to hear from you. BTW… I started a Early AA Study group. Going well! Reading through early material and discussing it together with other AA’s hungry for the same.

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