I often speak about God’s dream for the world–that our world would become a place of shalom, meaning peace and wholeness and well-being. When I invite people to the communion table, for example, I often say that at the communion table we embody God’s dreams for a world where there will be no more tears, no hunger, no injustice.
The American Dream is something else. It suggests that we’re all responsible and capable of creating success for ourselves. And that success is defined largely in terms of wealth and the quantity of stuff, or the kinds of stuff, that we can acquire.
Dunham reminds us in her book that the drafters of the U. S. Constitution had in mind a democratic society with equality of opportunity, in which individual freedom would be balanced with the common good. (p3) That’s something we don’t talk about much–the common good, and how we all contribute to it.
Success is too often defined by money, power, and position, not by a life well lived.
So, what is a life well lived? I’m asking myself that. What would my life look like, if it was well lived?
I know that one of the things I struggle with is feeling that I have “enough”, or I have all I need, that I have the right things, and I don’t need more or different or better things. Sometimes I do need more, different or better things, but a lot of times, I don’t!
It’s so easy to use the language of “should” when talking about money and stuff. But I don’t find that “should” language helps me change very much. I think I need to better understand the roots of my feelings, in order to make conscious decisions and commitments, rather than being controlled under the table by my fears and whatever else I find in this process.
Dunham suggests seven “Graceful Living” concepts, and I’m going to attempt to work through them one at a time in upcoming posts. They are: abundance, frugality, simplicity, generosity, sustainability, justice, and Sabbath.
~ This is part of a series reflecting on Laura Dunham’s book, Graceful Living: Your Faith, Values, and Money in Changing Times. ~