Soup and Salad

The soup was better than I remembered it from the last time. As I ate, my lunch companion shared his story.  His childhood, high school, college, and early working years had set the tone and trajectory of the life he was experiencing now in his mid-40’s.

“I’ve always been a hard worker.  My parents never had to motivate me.  It was just an unspoken rule in our family that hard work was the pathway to financial security and was the responsible thing to do as I started my own family.”

“In what ways has that been a good thing?” I asked.

“It’s been fabulous. I’ve built a financial base for my family that is the result of a career I can be proud of. I’ve worked hard. Always dealt honestly. Tried to honor people and God daily. We’re in a position where my wife doesn’t have to work, we are blessed to take great vacations, and my kids have the freedom to experience all that life has to offer.  If I keep on this path for another 10 years, we’ll be able to afford any college my kids get into and my wife and I should have a nest egg that’ll last us if we live to 120.”

“Wow, what’s not to like about that scenario?,” I said.

“Well, interesting you should ask.  That’s why my friend suggested I meet with you.”

“Ok. What’s up?”

“You see,” he continued, “the fact is I’m tired.  Like really tired. Actually ‘miserable’ is probably the more accurate word.”

“Go on.”

“The pace is killing me, but I can’t back off. It’s not just work that’s crazy busy --- all of my life is jammed packed with stuff and activities. But my wife and kids are accustomed to this lifestyle so I can’t back off.  Actually, I’m pretty comfortable with it all, too.  But the country club, ski house, vacations, and cars don’t appeal to me much anymore.  I feel like the dog that finally caught the car and now I don’t know what to do about it.”

“Ok”

“I feel trapped. The most immediate goal I have is to nail down my last kid’s college fund. Once that’s secured, I think I can explore other alternatives.”

“Is college the best gift you can offer your kids?” I asked.

“It’s not the best gift, but it is the key to getting them positioned for life-long financial security.”

“You’re probably right about that.  It got you to where you are today and will probably do the same for them. But you said, ‘It’s not the best gift.’  What is?”

“Well, in my most honest moments, I think knowing God, trusting Him and following Him would be the best for them.  And for me and my wife for that matter,” he said.

“And where are your kid’s with their faith,” I asked.

“Not so good. We moved a lot for my career when they were young so we never settled into a community or a church.  They had to constantly make new friends and sometimes they got connected with good kids and sometimes not so much.”

“How’s it been now that you’ve settled into Colorado these last few years?”

“Well, we were so excited to be here that we bought a place up in the mountains and have spent most of our winter weekends skiing. So we haven’t really found a church home. For the most part, I’d say their faith is pretty shallow… maybe even non-existent for the youngest two. None of us are connected much to God any more and we’re not doing much to help others.”

“So what’s the path forward?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a conundrum.  I feel like I have divided loyalties between the American Dream and the Kingdom of God and going ‘all in’ on either of them scares me, but I don’t know how to have a little of both. Frankly, I’m stumped. But I can’t keep on like this.”

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And now, Reader, if this were your life-long best friend, what advice would you give him?

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