I pulled up to a five bedroom house with a Lexus in the garage and instantly thought I had the directions wrong. Before I could react, my college roommate strolled into the garage and confirmed my location. How can a 23 year old already own a house bigger than my parents’?
(With the help of a well-to-do husband, it’s not so hard I guess.)
I quickly began the comparison game. She’s got this spread; I live with my grandmother and drive a Nissan. Her hair and make up always look just right; I still break out at 23. She’s got a successful career; I’m still in school.
In some ways, she epitomizes the American dream. It’s easy to compare things that stand out about her with things I don’t like about me. But there’s a big difference between what I want and what I need.
I’d be lying if I told you I wouldn’t like owning a big house in a ritzy neighborhood and driving a fancy car. I battle against those and other temptations on an almost daily basis, especially as I go through this time of uncertainty and job hunting.
The good news is it sends me back to prayer, seeking God for perspective. The good news is I don’t need any of those things. I have a place to live. I have a car to drive. (I rather like my car, actually.) I have a God who orchestrates my future. Therefore, I have security.
And you know, I don’t know what the future holds. I hope I’ll begin an exciting (and at least to some degree, successful) career in just a few months. But there are no guarantees.
What is success, anyway? The material trappings money can buy do appeal to me, perhaps because I didn’t have a lot of that as a child. (Or perhaps just because I’m human.) But when I conjure up a meaningful career, money doesn’t have a lot to do with it.
Instead, I’m looking for a job that is worthwhile. Okay, okay – that’s vague. You won’t see it going in the “objective” section of my resume. (I don’t have an “objective” section on my resume!) But it’s important.
The work I complete at my current internship may not have an eternal impact, but the relationships I form and the work ethic I cultivate do carry that possibility. Maybe I will write or edit for a Christian publication, but that’s not necessarily my goal. I aim instead to work at everything as unto the Lord, regardless of who’s paying my bills.
Maybe someday that’ll bring me a well-decorated home with an attractive husband and two adorable children (and my cat – can’t forget the cat!). Maybe it won’t, either. As difficult as it sometimes is to remember, those things aren’t my American dream. Faith is.