Our Christian family blog: our family focus
Top o’ the morning to ya from this Christian family blog, lovelies. We are eight short weeks away from leaving London for the start of our round the world trip, heading to Singapore as our first stop. We’re excited and very much looking forward to seeing what adventures await us. I’ve been online a lot recently, having just announced to everyone that we’re leaving London, and I keep seeing this kind of thing pop up on my feed.
“Live your DREAM lifestyle- are you working 9-5? Escape the rat race and start living your dreams! We made $100,000 in our first 6 months and you can too!”
For ages I looked at captions slating the 9-5 grind and a ‘normal’ lifestyle and I thought yep, I get why people would want to get out of that. I’ve never really fitted into a ‘normal’ western lifestyle: I don’t work 9-5, I work all hours (and sometimes it feels like ALL HOURS) from home, park benches, my mum’s spare room- wherever I can get some wifi and some quiet!
Our kids don’t go to school and we parent in a bit of a whack way and we’re Christian, and just generally weird and unfashionable like that. So I understand not wanting to succumb to what might feel like an average life, and I completely agree that if people are working in jobs where they are not using their skills, where they are depressed and demotivated and treated badly, the situation needs changing. I get it.
Often, if not always, a dream lifestyle is portrayed as working a very small amount and spending the rest of the time at leisure, with plenty of money and in beautiful locations. There’s nothing innately wrong with any one of these aspects. However, it is rare that these dream lifestyles include hard, uncomfortable graft, or living among people in poverty, or giving of ourselves to ease another person’s suffering, or really sacrificing anything.
Christian family blog: Is life all about us?
How much benefit to the world is it for my family to be chasing our ‘dream lifestyle’, to be using our resources to make ourselves as comfortable as is humanly possible?
Can we really justify chasing endless luxury when there are parents who are forced to watch their children die in their arms because they can’t afford medicine for diarrhoea; medicine that I can wander down to the corner shop and pick up for loose change, or even get for free from our amazing health care system if I needed to?
The answers might be uncomfortable but it is clear to us that we need to be sharing our privilege.
Privilege is not ours to keep
Being born in Britain, to English speaking parents and in an affluent area of London, means that Patrick and I have more privilege than either of us want to relax into. It’s like wearing a beautiful jacket that’s too tight and isn’t rightfully ours.
As Christians we wholeheartedly believe that God has given humans enough resources for everyone to have “life in full”- but us humans have messed up, big time, and while my kids play on their beds with slides, and snack on popcorn and mango that’s been delivered to our front door, other children lay in the dirt and can’t even rely on one meal a day.
It’s not right and it’s not fair, and if we as a family pursued wealth and comfort for ourselves we would be making the divide bigger, not smaller- by seeking out more comfort for ourselves we would be making the problem worse.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life!
Let me be clear- I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with enjoying ourselves, or with people having money- even quite a bit of it. I’ve read a Christian family blog or two that seem to think that in order to serve others we have to really suffer and I don’t agree with that. What I am saying is that if we make it the focus and aim of our lives to hold onto our privilege, we are doing the world a disservice. Any nice thing that comes our way should be held lightly, ready to pass at the drop of a hat onto someone who needs it more than us.
As a family we get this wrong ALL the time- I buy plastic-packaged food that’s destroying the environment; we get expensive convenience food when we could buy cheaper and donate the extra money; we’ll buy a round of drinks that costs the same as sponsoring a month’s education for an underprivileged child. (Yeah, we like our food).
This is one of the motivations for going on our trip- once away from the typical western lifestyle, there are fewer commercial pressures and different ways for us to ensure that our resources are being well used. With less ‘stuff’ to manage and with Patrick around with the kids, I’ll have more time to work efficiently and not rely on expensive convenience. Whether that’s buying the kids an unnecessary toy because I feel guilty for not spending time with them, or grabbing a ready meal because I don’t have time to cook- I’m looking forward to saying no to cutting corners for convenience’s sake.
Why the ‘dream lifestyle’ is a con
Another thing that ties in with all this is the way that ‘dream lifestyles’ are sold to us- and they are sold. It is common for the prettiest, sexiest aspects of them to be shoved in our faces to make us feel inadequate. Why are we working in a city office when we could be on a beach? Why are we struggling to fit into average size trousers when we could drink some magic tea (give me strength) and look like a Victoria’s Secret model? (hint: Victoria’s Secret models don’t even look like Victoria’s Secret models). Why is our life so… average?
EURGH. If you don’t know this already, know it now. You are wonderfully made. You are unconditionally loved and wanted and cherished. You do not need to buy things or have your life look a certain way in order to measure up to arbitrary, artificial pointers of success.
You are wonderfully made
Advertisers don’t want people happy, they want people miserable, scared and dissatisfied so that they can sell them stuff. Why would we search endlessly for the perfect foundation if we were confident in our own skin? Why would we constantly upgrade our phones if we weren’t scared of being left behind, and why would we watch absolute trash on TV if we weren’t worried about being left out?
It’s a con, a huge, global con. I’m sick of incredibly privileged and amazing people being tricked into thinking they are worth less than they are, and I’m sick of the poor and vulnerable being forgotten on our brutal race to the top of the aesthetic food chain.
Putting faith first as a Christian full time travelling family
This is why, although we will hopefully enjoy ourselves on our trip, we’re not taking a ‘year long vacation’, or trying to attain some kind of perfect lifestyle. We’re moving our lives somewhere where, hopefully, many more people can benefit from our privilege than when we are in London. Our skills, our education, our time and money are all being held loosely, ready to give where and when we can. I’m sure we’ll make a ton of mistakes and we won’t be able to help a fraction of the people we’d like to, but recognising that we have ‘enough’ allows us to look outward and find peace and joy with what we have.
We recently moved to Bali long term after travelling full time through Thailand and Sri Lanka, and there are plenty of posts on here about our adventures and mishaps as well as family travel tips. If you enjoyed reading this Christian family blog, please subscribe using the box on the right of the homepage, and check us out on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube!