When the American Dream Becomes a Nightmare for Middle Class Moms
I’m heartsick about some news that I just heard about my current hometown. According to a county human services worker, the suicide rate amongst moms is exceptionally high around here. In fact, it’s so bad that it’s one of the county’s greatest concerns.
And this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that. A friend who is an emergency responder shared with my husband that his team often responds to 911 calls for moms who have overdosed on drugs and alcohol—often in the middle of the day. A nearby neighbor recently lost her rights to her children after driving them to school while intoxicated.
Ugh. It’s a punch to the gut. What is going on? Why are the moms in my neighborhood succumbing to drugs and depression and suicide? We live in the middle of the American dream--a sprawling, well-planned suburb where you can have it all.
Our lawns and our fingernails are beautifully manicured. The kids around here sure look happy and healthy and play soccer and lacrosse and football every weekend. The husbands and wives drive new SUVs and pull them into oversized garages every evening. What’s happening inside those walls? What could possibly be pushing people to kill themselves when it would appear that we have all the world has to offer?
I lamented this news to one of my best friends via text this morning. She lives in Thailand and has watched in wonder from a distance as our family has settled back in to the US after living overseas for so many years. Her response was, “Talk about having the world and losing your soul. That’s Parker.” And I think she might be on to something.
Jesus asked, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matthew 16:26) It would seem that we have indeed gained the whole world in my neighborhood—really, we have it all. But clearly souls are being lost. Women and teens especially are languishing and ending their lives.
Last summer a 13 year old just two blocks away shot himself in his front yard. Witnesses said the mother, in great anguish and horror, kept crying out, “But this isn’t supposed to happen in Parker! This isn’t supposed to happen out here!” But it is happening here. And it has happened here way too many times. I think my friend is right, we’ve gained the world but we’re losing our souls.
Jesus asked that rhetorical question in the context of teaching his disciples. Right before that he said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25). It sounds almost too simple to be true, but I believe it with my whole heart: Jesus is the answer. He is our creator and he created us for a purpose: to bear his image, to bring him glory, to complete the good works he prepared in advance for us to do.
My county, my town, my neighborhood, myself—we need Jesus. We just do. He made us. He knows what we need and it’s to lose ourselves in him.
Our facades are pretty, but Jesus is better! Our homes are big, but God is greater! May we in Parker proclaim with Paul, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).
May my neighbors and I be like the psalmist and say, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your righthand are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
May the God who brings life from death do so here in my very own neighborhood.