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.