The Darker Side of the American Dream

Sisters of Victory (7)

Before marriage, before kids, I was a very free spirited person. Artistic and musical by nature, I was spontaneous and lived by the seat of my pants. Other than my job, I pretty much played everything by ear. This changed a few months into my marriage. After a few knock down drag out fights, I realized that my actions were no longer my own and that I now had to consider my spouse when making decisions and planning out my, or rather, our day. This was hard for me and I really had to acknowledge and work through my selfishness. A year later when our first son was born, I had to start the whole process again! Priorities needed shifting and selfishness reared its ugly head. The beast was much bigger this time around! If we’re being honest here, I’d say that my selfishness or “flesh” as it were, was working desperately at that time to dig it’s talons into my soul. The transition into Motherhood was truly a rude albeit beautiful awakening. The whole process reminds me of ground being tilled. There is no part of you that is left alone. Everything is turned upside down and the calm and peaceful life you have grown accustomed to is in upheaval. Any control (or rather illusion of control) that you had over your life is yanked out of your hands. You can either embrace God’s work in your life or you can go along with it kicking and screaming.

Initially, I went along with it kicking and screaming. My selfishness began popping up like a Whac-A-Mole game. I didn’t want to lose any more sleep. Bang! I didn’t want to wake up every two hours to nurse. Bang! I didn’t want to give up my social life. Bang Bang! I didn’t want to go through 50 thousand hoops just to get a shower in peace. Bang!

As much as I was happy to become a Mom, I was also desperately holding on to my old life, old set of expectations, and old set of priories. Yes I lost sleep, yes I woke up every two hours to nurse, and yes I pretty much had no social life (no I didn’t always get a shower! :-P) but even though I was physically doing the right things, the tension in my soul was steadily increasing.

When you get married and then again when you have kids, the world will stress that despite these people you are still your own person and should never relinquish your individuality and freedom. “Never give up on your dreams.” they shout! “Don’t let ANYONE get in your way! Do what you want when you want!”

Selfishly, I listened to the world’s advice and did not want to give up my freedom and orient my life around someone other than me. Even though I was doing a good job of keeping my child alive and nurtured, my selfish heart was fighting me every step of the way. I had severe Postpartum Depression which was part of the struggle to be sure, but honestly, the bigger part of the problem was that I had not repented of my selfishness and made the changes inwardly that God was calling me to make. My priorities and expectations were centered around me and completely unrealistic. There is no way on earth that they would ever line up with reality because when you have a newborn they are wholly dependent on you and 99.9 % of your time must be devoted to them. And thus, the tension continued to grow and increase until one night I found myself googling: “What to do when you resent your child” and “What to do when you don’t want to be a Mom anymore?” I can’t write these words without crying. I can still remember my sweet Adam quietly sleeping in his bouncer next to me and can remember the tears streaming down my face as I read things like:

“I hate my babies. They have ruined my life. I never get to do what I want anymore.”
“Girl, it is totally normal to hate your kids. They weren’t a part of your plan and got in the way of your dreams! Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
“I completely resent my kids. I have thought long and hard about giving them over to the state.”

God used these words to break me of my rebellion and to show me how truly wicked my own selfishness was and where it would eventually take me. Their words were the slap in the face I needed and right then and there I bowed my head and repented of my selfishness and chose to put God, my husband, and children before myself. And then I made a conscious and intentional effort to change my priories and expectations to what God would have them to be…to what was realistic and to what was glorifying to him.

Almost immediately the tension was gone. Why? Well, for one because I wasn’t choosing in my heart to rebel against God and for two because there will always be tension and dissatisfaction when your expectations of life do not match where you actually are in life. Let me repeat that: if you have expectations in your heart that cannot be met in reality, you will have more than a little bit of tension!

I don’t know where you are at in life but if you are a follower of Christ… your dreams, your freedom, and your individuality AKA “The American Dream” should not be your priority or within your framework of expectations. God is always moving and desires to grow you closer to him and use you in his kingdom but if you are trying to do things the way of the world, your life will get darker and tension will grow. God is going to do what God is going to do but instead of going along kicking and screaming, save yourself and those around you a lot of heart ache and take a realistic look at your heart and at the life he has given you. Make sure that your expectations and priorities are first, godly and second, match what reality looks like for you.

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” -Philippians 2:3

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” -James 3:16

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” – Luke 17:33

The American dream seems so glamorous and promising but the reality is, it will only let you down and is contrary to God’s word.

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6 thoughts on “The Darker Side of the American Dream

  1. I completely understand where you’re coming from Grace, as I felt like this a lot too. However I do believe that God gave you a free spirit personality, and I believe that he gave you amazing musical ability I don’t believe that you’re supposed to ignore that. Yes your family comes first but don’t throw it out the window because that may not be what God wants for you either. In reality, after being married for almost 8 years, I’ve come to realize that there is a balance and that there are times when things will have to be on the back burner, and then there are seasons when you need to jump in because God wants to use your gifts, gifts that you had your entire life. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and be attentive to open doors when they come.

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  2. Woah. This is some hard stuff to swallow. I’m a newlywed. And there are days that my selfishness reigns supreme. Thank you so much for sharing about your journey.

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