Proud to be an American?

I consider myself a fairly patriotic person.  I love my home country – really.  I like celebrating the 4th with friends and family. I vote.  I enjoy traveling to Washington, D.C., to learn about our nation’s history.  I am grateful for the men and women who lay down their lives for their fellow countrymen.  You could say that I’m proud to be an American.

For the most part.

Since moving to the Dominican, I have realized there are some American characteristics I possess that I’m not so proud of.

My sense of entitlement.  My desire for more material things.  My tendency toward selfishness.

Looking back over the few years that I’ve been an independent, self-functioning human being, I see how I’ve tried to jam-pack my life with “stuff”.  I remember growing up, never being satisfied with what I had.  All I needed was a little bit more.

I bought clothes.  Lots of clothes.  If I didn’t eat out a couple times a week, I thought I was missing out.  I drank $4 frappuccinos on a weekly basis. Having a new pair of $75 tennis shoes each fall for high school, whether or not my last pair was still wearable, was an obvious “must.”  I needed my expensive shampoos and purses and perfumes.  I even pouted if I couldn’t buy certain brands of school supplies!

I know that drinking coffee or buying a new shirt or eating at McDonald’s is not wrong.  But when the pursuit of those things takes precedence in my life above all else, that’s when it gets a little dicey.

Obviously, Americans are not the only materialistic ones on the planet.  I can’t blame my selfish desires solely on living in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  But I will say this.  My culture’s tendency to want more, to live the American dream, to keep up with the Joneses… that surely hasn’t helped me to look outside myself for ways to make God famous.

I don’t really have a grand conclusion here.  Renouncing my American roots won’t cause me to struggle less with feelings of deservedness. I still hear lies like, “You’ve given up so much to move to the DR.  You’re really suffering for Jesus down there.  You deserve this or that.”  I don’t think moving to a foreign country has made me any less susceptible to these feelings of entitlement – I just recognize them more.  When we’re back in the States on furloughs, I’ll probably struggle with feelings of “what could’ve been”.  I know Christ is all I need, and truly living that out is my goal.

I’ll end with this – whether American, Dominican, African, or Asian…

“God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.”
(John Piper)

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