As I get older, I am consistently made aware of lies that I have believed my whole life. Have you ever considered the things you believe to be true? Have you ever wondered what might actually be false? Would it devastate you to find out that something you believed your whole life isn’t true? I’ve been having those types of realizations over the last few years.
Where The Journey Begins
My journey towards a sort of self-examination of my beliefs began in the Church a little over a decade ago. It has actually been the Church that has propelled this journey forward time and time again, but not in the way you might think.
My last blog series titled “Survey Of American Christianity,” is a good representation of how this has happened, so I won’t go into it too much. I’ll just say that it seems my opinions on not so much the the institution of the Church itself, but rather the people who call themselves Christians, are widely shared among many millennials across the country. The primary issue with Christianity is that the ones who typically speak the loudest are the ones who are the most unbiblical in their beliefs. Politicians claiming Christianity to win votes and speak on matters that are completely in opposition to the Bible, to televangelists and megachurch pastors who take on the authority of God to speak words of hate and judgment. The primary issue is that because I claim Christianity, I’m lumped in with those people. This is not a new issue. People have been battling this for many years. In western culture, and specifically here in America, the last 30 years have been a major struggle amongst Christians trying to disassociate themselves from certain people groups who claim the Christian faith as their own.
In one of my blog posts (here), I stated that I believe that at it’s current trajectory, the church as we know it will eventually die in America. I still very much believe that. I ended up actually putting my words where my mouth was and quit my current church job about a month or so ago. That’s not to say I’m against the church or being a part of a staff at a church. I’d just rather wait for an opportunity where I can be a part of a community of people that I can really get behind the vision and be passionate about the actions of that community in loving and helping people. So I decided to take a step back for a little while and see where it takes me.
This post will not be on church matters. I just wanted to give a little background to the content of this post and where I’m coming from. So without further adieu…
1. You can be anything you want to be.
In our childhood we were often told that we can be anything we want to be if we put our mind to it. It caused us to dream big and try to achieve big things. When we reached adulthood, however, we were likely brought back down to reality where you can only be whatever your particular skill set or talents will allow you to be, and even then it often doesn’t work out. I’d love to be a full-time successful musician and songwriter, for example. I’d love to play music and write songs always and spend all my time doing that and traveling around playing to crowds of people who love the music I play. I’ve had this dream since I was 5 years old. My parents told me that if I wanted it then I could have it if I tried. They supported me, bought me equipment, drove me all over the country, and by the time I was 18 years old I had done more and seen more than most people at that age. Yet I wasn’t signed to a label, wasn’t that big, and hadn’t really done that much in the grand scheme of things. Now here I am 11 years later, and nothing really changed. Is it because I’m not good enough? I don’t think so. Is it because I didn’t work for it it? Nope. It’s because that’s just not how life works sometimes. And that’s ok!
The older I get, the less I want the kind of life I used to dream about and pray for. I want to do good in the world and help people and make a positive impact. Music kind of does that, but actually doing things with and for people does more. So my focus shifted a bit and I decided to put my energy in other things. Sure I still play music and gig around a bit. I love every second of it and wouldn’t give it up for anything. But I no longer expect or think I deserve more than that anymore.
This upbringing has been statistically proven to be the root cause of the entitlement all millennials have been stereotypically stamped with. But I firmly believe that most of us will all get our heads pulled out of the clouds of our own self-absorption and have our feet brought back down to earth and have quite the impact on the world. I currently live in Chattanooga, TN. Chattanooga has quickly become the start-up city. And guess who is starting businesses? Yup, millennials. I’m working part-time for a business that is growing by 400% every year. This is ridiculously unheard of growth for a business. They have won awards and been recognized as the fastest growing and most successful start-up on this side of the country. And this company was started by two guys who are my age. Putting my own feelings of self-worth and inadequacy aside, this is how life can be for millennials who are willing to put that passion and motivation to good use with the skills and knowledge they already have. We are known as the generation that says “I’d rather be poor and do what I love than be rich doing what I hate.” Really? Is that true? What about if you could do something you don’t like for 2-5 years and build an asset for your life that continues to bring in money for you so you can be FREE to do what you love for the rest of your life?
You see we just don’t get it. The “American Dream” can still be a reality. We just have to redefine what that is.
2. Go to college and get a degree to have a good job.
It has been wired into our DNA to believe that we have to have a college education and a degree to have a good job that leads to a career so we can be “successful,” whatever that means. Look at almost any successful entrepreneur and you will begin to see a pattern. Many of them didn’t even go to college. If they did go to college, they often dropped out or they ended up being successful in a completely unrelated field.
It is a lie to believe that a college degree will get you success in this life. At best, a degree gets you an entry level job in the biggest pyramid scheme you’ve ever seen: American Industry. You might get small opportunities to move up in any given company, but only if you work your ass off and give your whole life to “the man” and prove yourself, not because you have a degree. I don’t think that kind of life is worth $40,000+, if you ask me.
In a world where free universities exist on the internet, Ted-talk style classrooms exist, and we have the entire world’s knowledge and experience at our fingertips, you really can’t convince me college is worth a damn at this point.
3. You deserve happiness.
This is a difficult one to properly write about, so please try to understand me here. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be happy, I just don’t really believe happiness is a real thing. We have been spoon fed this bull shit faux-fullfillment in so many things, and it never really lasts, does it? Culture tells us that a good relationship will make us happy, but it doesn’t. They say a good career will fulfill us and make us happy, but it doesn’t. They say being a parent will give us fulfillment and purpose, but it doesn’t. The list goes on…
The issue here is not that those things can’t do that, its just that we put too many of our eggs in that basket. I believe that having a good relationship, a career you love or are passionate about, and being a parent can all make you feel quite fulfilled and content in life. I know plenty of people who are generally content with any or all of these things in their life. But I don’t think those things alone can make you happy. We’ve been led to believe that life is about the pursuit of happiness. It’s at the core of the “American Dream.” But happiness is that mirage that you can never quite reach. As soon as you think you’re about there, it disappears and is a little further away and takes a little more work to reach. It never ends.
My other problem with this lie goes back to the “millennial entitlement” issue. I hear a lot of people my age and younger say they deserve happiness when they are playing the “victim card” and trying to get sympathy or attention. The best thing we can learn in this life is that we don’t deserve anything. When someone says they deserve something, it usually tells me that they didn’t work hard enough to get it and are looking for a hand-out. When it comes to happiness, they are typically trying to lick their wounds from a bad relationship or a bad decision, and are looking for someone to justify their actions and tell them they aren’t in the wrong. The worst part is that the majority of us play right into this and give them what they want. I’ll tell you now that if you are looking for someone to tell you that you are not in the wrong and deserve all the things in the world and are such a great person etc, don’t come to me. I won’t say it if I don’t believe it, and I rarely believe this about anyone, including myself.
I don’t know what this post really contributes to the greater conversation of society right now, but I just decided to share my thoughts on it. Feel free to do the same below! I could say more about other areas, and very well may do just that and turn this into a small blog series. We’ll see.
Until next time.