This Life is Never One I Would Have Chosen: It’s Better

Middle age makes me think about the life I thought I wanted and this life I actually have. Which one is really the American Dream? #life #goals #americandream #trials

Middle age makes me think about the life I thought I wanted and this life I actually have. Which one is really the American Dream?

Middle age makes me think about the life I thought I wanted and this life I actually have. Which one is really the American Dream? #life #goals #americandream #trials

That Life I Wanted, This Life I Have

Thirty years ago, if you would have asked me what kind of life I would choose, I probably would have said, “I want kids, a good job, a faithful husband, and a comfortable life. You know, the American Dream.”

I grew up in that fuzzy economic area between poverty and middle class. My parents had college educations, but four kids in rapid succession kept them on a tight budget. We moved a lot (10 houses in four states in 14 years).

Middle age makes me think about the life I thought I wanted and this life I actually have. Which one is really the American Dream? #life #goals #americandream #trials

My parents made do and provided us with an adventure-filled childhood. We always had enough to eat, but I know my parents struggled with paying bills. As a kid, I cut my knee on an exposed pipe. Rather than take me to the doctor (which cost money), my dad taped it together. I have a cool scar on my knee as a testimony to his doctoring skills.

After finishing college, I did marry a wonderful, faithful husband. I’ve always had a good job as a teacher, and my life has more comforts than 80% of the world’s population. But I wouldn’t call it comfortable.

This life I lived so far has had adventure and agony, carefree days and cancer caregiving days, delight and despair. I’ve lived in that fuzzy economic area between poverty and middle class. When my husband went back to school after the birth of our children, we had to accept government help (WIC) for four years because teachers don’t make much.

I might have sought the American Dream, but this life has turned out better. The things in this life that I’d never choose, God has allowed us to experience. Cancer. Mental health problems. Job loss. Debt. Depression.

The New American Dream

Even with all the trials and hardships. My life has turned out better. Why? It has to do with something James says:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

James 1:2-4 NLT

I didn’t use to think I deserved trials, but now I embrace them. I’d rather have a strong character than a strong bank account. Give me endurance over a flush stock portfolio. I’ll probably never take a $17,000 vacation twice a year (what one ‘middle class’ person whined about on the internet last year).

Instead, I have a roof over my head, a family that loves me, enough money to give freely to those in need and work that gives me purpose. Call it a new American Dream. This life brings me great joy.

Which would you prefer? The American Dream or a life filled with trials? #fmfparty #goals #americandream Click To Tweet

10 Comments

  1. Some people think that I would trade
    my cancer’d lethal days
    for something that is better made,
    a life that’s not a maze
    of pain and puke and ruby blood,
    of fever and fatigue,
    of a place where even Rambo would
    be out of his own league.
    They would, however, be quite wrong
    for I have learned the precious joy
    of each sunrise, of each song,
    of each star in God’s employ
    to bring a brightness to my time,
    to bring a taste of the sublime.

  2. It’s interesting to think back to what we hoped life would be like and to compare it to how it has actually turned out. It’s encouraging to look back and see how God can use even the difficult things in our lives and work good in them.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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