The place is a disaster zone. Furniture overturned. Rubbish piled high. Chaos and disorganisation as far as the eye can see.
Yep, I just moved house.
It is easy to see a new house as being some kind of badge of honour. Society tells us that material things are markers of success. Got the house? Tick. Got the car? Tick. Got a partner, pets, kids? Tick, tick, tick.
In Australia we have a stupid tradition known as The Great Australian Dream. This roughly translates into the pride of owning one’s own home. So widespread is this traditional marker of success that the lack of one’s own home is a trigger for stress, depression and a host of other mental health issues.
People work their butts off, earning money at all hours of the day and night, neglecting their families and churches and selves, all for the sake of this elusive Dream.
And for what?
A badge of honour.
For the record, I am all for having one’s own house. There are distinct advantages to having your own space. We can hang pictures on walls. We can plant trees in the backyard. Actually, make that shrubs. Our new backyard is only little.
I love my new house. But I will never live under the illusion that this house means I have succeeded in life. It will never convince me that I am any better than when I lived in a tiny 2-bedroom unit just two weeks ago. I will never believe that this house makes me any more worthy or acceptable or loveable.
I will never live under the illusion that this house means I have succeeded in life.
Sometimes we forget that. We become attached to our various badges of honour.
“I am an Aussie and proud of it.”
“I voted Labour, why didn’t you?”
“I know I’m right because I’m a Christian.”
Even childlessness can be a badge of honour, if we allow ourselves to slip into the trap of us-and-them thinking (the childless versus parents). Yet we know that childlessness is no badge of honour, any more than being a parent is a badge of honour.
Childlessness is no badge of honour, any more than being a parent is a badge of honour.
Our honour does not lie in what we have (or don’t have). Our honour does not lie in our friends and social connections. Our honour is not even found in who we think we are – the labels we have attributed to ourselves.
This is my honour: that I belong to God.
Beyond anything else I could achieve or obtain in this life, my honour is in being God’s child. It is honour enough to raise the head of the homeless person and to bow the head of the greatest politician.
My honour is in being God’s child.
It is a countercultural honour. It will probably not make me popular. But far better to hold fast to my eternal identity in God than to chase after a Dream that is nothing more than a mirage.
What so-called badges of honour do you see others chasing? Do you have a story of your own badge of honour? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.