The narratives we live by
I find it unsettling that I can rationalize just about any decision in life. Whether it’s taking this path or that path, ordering the burger or the salad, buying the new shoes or not, and on and on. Most of these decisions aren’t really too consequential, but that doesn’t keep me from constantly over-analyzing everything with an intent to maximize each decision and moment.
This is nothing new or novel, but lately I’ve been thinking through the criteria of right and wrong that I use to make these decisions. I’ve been startled to realize what I’ve considered “objective truths” and how closely those align with the same principles that our capitalistic society view as truth. One of the main narratives that I subconsciously live by is equating success with morality. While this has served me very well in many aspects of my life, it’s also time to dig deeper on how this frames my relationship with God. This thought process was incited by a whisper in my thoughts and curiosity – like it was a question from God: “When did material success become a value of our faith?”
For me, at first blush this is a no duh statement. But when I start to reflect on my life I start to see how much the affluent, corporate America society that I live in has blurred the lines between God’s voice in my life and the voice of society. I see how this thought process builds a narrative of fear in my life. Off and on I start to build narratives like, “I can only chase that dream when I’m financially independent,” or “a good life is marked by financial success.”
This isn’t the moment that I announce I’m selling my stuff and moving to a developing country but rather it’s an invitation for examination. It is the start of a journey to deconstruct how society has infiltrated my faith and my beliefs. In the same way that I and many others have been working through how the Church has controlled the narratives and questions about Jesus, it’s time for me to examine how society has a similar impact. I don’t expect this examination to lead to a realization that we’re miles off the mark and our lives need a full revamp but I do believe that my blanket acceptance of many societal values as altruism hinders me from the true voice of God and me living into my full identify. I live a story that says my list of accomplishments is why I’m the hero. The truth is that these accomplishments are shiny but hold far less meaning and value without the learnings, inner work and the way they may function to redeem this world.