By Kristen Wells
Where oh where has the white picket fence gone? Do you remember those days? When the “American Dream” was being married with two kids, a dog, and a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. Yet, in the past 20 years we have since such a rapid evolution in the American Dream that now-a-days the original dream would be considered a nightmare to most, instead of one to achieve. So how did we get here?
The answer is easy… sin mixed with the evolution of technology.
Technology has been both a blessing and a curse to our nation. It has allowed us to get in touch with each other in easier and faster ways, but it also has allowed us to get in touch with our sin in easier and faster ways. This sin has evolved our personal worldviews to the point that all we can see is pleasure of self.
A couple of weeks ago I took my daughter on a mother/daughter date to Disneyland. Our first objective was to high-tail it to Space Mountain. While being herded in that direction there was a young girl (probably 14/15) walking next to us dressed in a crop top, tiny frayed shorts and platforms. She was walking with her similarly dressed friend and they both were texting on their phones. As we continued to walk side by side, she moved from texting to taking “fish faced” selfies of… her and her friend? Oh no… just herself. My daughter and I snickered as we watched her raise her hand and place it under her chin while turning her head from side to side, keeping her fish face ~ all while walking. Long gone are the days of chewing gum and walking being a talent ~ it is now taking selfies and walking.
As we continued on into our 50-minute Space Mountain wait, we were surrounded by people acting in blatantly debauchery and young 10/12-year-old girls dressed like Hollister models. I took the opportunity to share with my daughter the ways of the world and how the evolution of self and the decline of selflessness has led to a narcissistic world.
I was reading the other day that in the Jr. High and High schools here in the town that I live, they are having an epidemic of nude selfies. These selfies are being shown around like baseball cards would have been in the 50’s.
Drug use, anorexia, sexual immorality and bullying are all on the rise among young people. The new “American Dream” has taken shape. It is a dream shaped with the “The Time is Now!” mentality. It is a dream that is filled with self-ambition and deceit. Whatever it takes to make me happy and feel worth is what I will achieve for myself no matter the cost to myself or the people around me. The ease of technology has made this more and more accessible. Back when I was a kid (yes it was that long ago), to take a selfie was a daylong event; setting up the tripod and then setting the timer again and again till you finally get a picture you are actually posing for. And videos were even harder… because you had to take the entire VCR with you. To talk to your friends, you had to either call them on a phone that was attached to the wall, see them in person, or write them a letter.
Yet, as I listen, or more like read, the conversations our young people have with each other I am appalled by the way they not only talk so familiar to each other but how rude they are. Boys are made fun of if they are nice to girls and girls have to retort back in sarcasm and then retreat in tears or else they will be called names in front of, as well as behind, their backs. Boys easily manipulate girls into doing what they want by either false charm and vindictive deceit or pure bullying. They have learned how to play a game that no one knows they are playing. If you get these kids alone, you will find that no one feels safe anymore. No one knows who they truly are because they are trying so hard to fit in with the world. They are seeking themselves and the satisfaction only this sinful life can bring for the fleeting moment. The ease of being able to hide behind our electronics while committing sinful acts with it somehow makes people feel like they aren’t sinning ~ or sinning “less”.
So what does this mean for our future? Well, you are already seeing the benefits of this evolution. A self-centered government, a decline in American values and work ethic which will lead to ripples in the economy, education and cultural living. The old ideas of helping your neighbor are flying out the window and being replaced by a “what does this get me?” attitude. Even the church is seeing this ripple. As we become more concerned with how big our congregation is or what amenities we have rather than what message we teach.
So what should the “American Dream” be? How do we get there?
The dream for me is purely not dreaming of anything in this world that doesn’t help me to achieve the following things:
1.Thinking of others above myself (Philippians 2:3)
2. Seeking first the Kingdom of God (Mathew 6:33
3. Proclaiming the Good News (Matt. 28:19) and above all
4. Love God with everything I am (Matt. 22:37)
Everything else is just purely icing on a sin soaked cake. We need to look at everyday as a gift from God to be His hands and feet! The blessings we receive in that day are just purely that ~ blessings! Gifts from God to get us from one moment to the next. We need to thank Him for each one. But we don’t set ourselves up to strive for anything this world can provide us. There is a song called If I Gained the World, but Lost My Savior and I love the last line:
O the joy of having all in Jesus
What a balm the broken heart to heal!
Ne’er a sin so great, but He’ll forgive it,
Nor a sorrow that he does not feel!
If I have but Jesus, only Jesus,
Nothing else in all the world beside-
O then everything is mine in Jesus;
For my needs and more He will provide.
Author: Anna Oelander
This is the dream that Jesus offers to all ~
A dream that He came to this earth suffered, died, separated from our Lord, and rose again for. A dream that from the foundations of this void earth, felt the pangs of. The dream of reuniting the lost relationship with our God and Father.
I know this dream will not be accepted by everyone. Their sin and love for this world has too great a hold. But my hands, feet, eyes, ears, lips will work for God every day of my life, for not only to achieve this dream for myself and my family, but for those who surround me. Because as this world’s old dreams pass away and new ones evolve, it won’t change the fact that those dreams are merely for today and have no eternal benefit. When this world passes away (as it will) all of those worldly dreams will die along with it and only those who dreamed the dream of God will survive. A harsh reality, but none the less a true one.
May we focus on the dream that matters. The dream that Christ died for. The only dream that will set you free and bring you the joy and understanding that surpasses all the things this world has to give.
John 12:25 “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”
1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
About the author:
Kristen Wells has a bachelors of science degree in biblical counseling and is the author of The Warring Soul. She resides in California with her wonderful husband, Greg, her son, Justin, and her daughter, Katie.
Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading, knitting, playing board games, substitute teaching at her kid’s school, teaching bible at Santa Clarita Christian School, and mentoring youth. When she is not attending to the needs of her family, you can find Kristen curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee or fellowshiping with friends. Above all, she lives to exemplify Christ in her everyday life and help others to find their way out of darkness.