The Fallacy of Living the Dream

From childhood, we are pounded with the message that we should live our dream, and dare to be the best. We are challenged to be ambitious, to run faster, to jump higher, to hit harder.

I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I think that message is one of the worst parts of American culture.

This message is, at its root, materialism. The “dreams” that everyone talks about are dreams of achieving wealth, fame, or status.

We tell our kids to dream of being professional musicians, or Olympic athletes, or CEO of a company, or President of the good old U-S-of-A.

We tell our kids that they can be anything that they want to be - and then we tell them that they want to be rich and famous.

Our values are in the wrong place.

We should be telling our kids that they can be anything that they want to be - responsible adults, loving husbands, caring wives, passionate Christ-followers.

We should be telling them that they are, at times, going to fail, but that truly succeeding at life means overcoming those failures. For each of them, those obstacles will be different, and for each of them, success will be different.

Let’s emphasize the value of being a strong contribution to humanity.

I suck at praying.

Really. I’m horrible at it.

I mean, I start out strong:

God, thank you for today. Thank you for your love. I love you.

But I quickly devolve into pointless babbling. And my mind starts to wander. I begin thinking about what I want to eat for breakfast, and then I notice that my toes are freezing cold (but I can’t get socks because I’m praying).

Oh, right - I’m praying.

And God, help me to stay focused on you as I go through my day today (even though I can’t make it through a simple prayer without getting distracted…). 

And then I hear a rustle coming from the bedroom - that must mean that Shannon’s getting up for the day. Did I start a pot of coffee? She always likes it when I have coffee ready for her. I’m pretty sure I made a pot, because I remember that I did some of the dishes in the sink afterwards (brownie points!).

When Shannon gets out of the shower, I need to remind her that we need some more dish soap.

Mmmm, I smell the coffee! I should grab a cup real quick, and then I can continue … praying. Crap.

God, I swear I really do love you. And I really do want to spend time with you. It probably seems like I don’t care, because I keep getting sidetracked, but I promise that I want you to be my priority right now.

But if I REALLY wanted him to be my priority, wouldn’t I stop thinking about all of this other crap?


Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this sort of thing.

My intentions are good and my heart is right, but I just can’t seem to stay focused.

But the older I get, and the more cumulative time I spend in these awkward prayer sessions, the more I realize something:

God doesn’t need me to stay focused. In fact, I’ve come to realize that he uses these awkward prayer times to orient me for the day.

He’s whispering in my ear that he cares about me. My cold toes are important to him. He knows that I love coffee, and my happiness brings him joy. Even when my thoughts drift to mundane chores, he is guiding me through life.

So I have two options:

  1. I can hang my head at my constant failure at prayer, beating myself to try to do better next time, or
  2. I can relax and enjoy my time with my Father, letting him speak to me however he wants.

I trust that, as I continue to grow in prayer, I will become more attuned to hear his voice. I can’t wait for the day when his whispers become a torrent of love.

Let’s Be Friends.

A friend is someone who loves you for who you are and pushes you to be better.

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Your best friends will love you and accept you as you are, but they will never let you be satisfied with your current place in life. They know that, as great as you are, there is always room for improvement. Sometimes that means pressing you to improve your social life, your grades, your interpersonal communication, your ambitions, your temper, etc. (I would go on, but these are starting to hit too close to home for me….)

I know that, personally, I always need someone to pressure me to better myself. If my life were entirely up to me, I would probably still be working at Starbucks and eating $1 frozen pizzas for dinner (when I ran out of mac and cheese, of course).

I’m thankful that I have friends that have pushed me. I may not have liked it at the time (in fact, I may have lashed out), but in retrospect, my life is better because of those friends.

So next time someone close to you tells you something that you don’t want to hear, listen to them. They just might be showing you how much they love you.