Living Beyond the “Surface of Life”

economic and professional success exists on the surface of life, [but] they emerge out of interpersonal relationships, which are much deeper and more important, . . . [and] most of us pay attention to the wrong things. Most people vastly overestimate the extent to which more money would improve our lives.

–NY Times Op-Ed Columnist, David Brooks on The Sandra Bullock Trade

I tend to agree with this statement by David Brooks. I know, personally, that I have overestimated the extent to which more money would improve my life.

I want security. I want to know that we are living within our means and will not have any difficulty paying our bills if something happens to one of us.  I want to know that we will have our needs met when we are old.  And, given the longevity in my husband’s family, old may mean really old–other than accidents, everyone has lived well into their late eighties and mid-nineties. And so, we have worked to make careers and to make money.

But, despite those efforts, we are not really any happier. We lost sight of plans we made, dreams we had, when we first married –to live simply so we would have more time with family and friends.

We “paid attention to the wrong things.” Security and happiness did not spring forth from things we thought would make us happier.  In fact, for every “thing” we had, it meant more work–to care for it or pay for it–and less time for each other.  As our salaries grew, our expectations grew.  The expectation of having a little bigger or nicer home or car.  What were we thinking?

Security comes from Christ not a bank account–When I keep my eyes on Him I know this deeply.  And, I know His love, through relationships with others.  I know that all the “things” we own and all the things I have to take care of distract me from relationships.

I know we need the Spirit to lead us in this journey to a simple life, so that we may find peace. We need to be led so that we may live less on the “surface of life” and dig deep into the important things.

If I could counsel my children or others about how to make this journey happier, I would say: own less, work less, live more, love more. Don’t be worried about getting things. Instead spend time receiving Christ and all that flows from Him.

“See how the flowers of the field grow. . . . If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . . But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” —Matthew 6:28-34

Godspeed, Elizabeth


Posted on April 5, 2010, in Christianity, Faith, family, marriage and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I was listening to my new Johnny Cash CD today on the way to work and heard the song “A Satisfied Mind.” The lyrics are:

    How many times have
    You heard someone say
    If I had his money
    I could do things my way

    But little they know
    That it’s so hard to find
    One rich man in ten
    With a satisfied mind

    It is contentment in Christ, not riches, that bring true joy in life. I just wish I hadn’t spent so many years chasing after more money before I learned that.
    Peace, Linda.

  2. Elizabeth,

    I cannot agree with you more on this one. You see, the last five years…the Lord has taught me that my life is worth more than what I have or don’t have or what I will ever have. The other day as I went to pick my daughter from preschool, I kept saying these words over and over again, MY LIFE IS FULL. And yes…with Jesus I know my life will always be FULL…to the brim and overflowing!

    Thank you for such wonderful counsel. Blessings and hugs,


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