Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A twentysomething's life in suburbia

My coworker Ann Swindell has a new article at Relevant called "Dishwasher Blues." Ann is a recent Wheaton College grad and newlywed reflecting on the standard of living and expectations in suburbia. She recounts this dialogue with a woman from her church:

“Oh, I remember those days. Now that I live in a house, I absolutely hate my life whenever I’m anywhere that doesn’t have a built-in washer and dryer. Or a dishwasher, for that matter. You do have a dishwasher, don’t you?”

I put on my best fake smile and shook my head. “Nope. You’re looking at the dishwasher.”

The woman from church started to giggle. “Oh, you’re just too funny! You—the dishwasher—ha!” She stopped laughing abruptly, her face becoming much too serious for the topic of conversation. “I am sorry about that, though. I hope you do get those necessities soon—life is just a drag without them!”

Ann reflects, "
Living in a suburb in which every third woman who walks into our store has a diamond bigger than a dime on her left hand is overwhelming. Michael and I may not be rich by suburban Chicago standards, but we’re living—as far as we’re concerned—rather well: our own one-bedroom apartment, a running car, the ability to pay our bills on time … why shouldn’t we be happy?"

One comment posted at the article says,
"Also newlyweds, also no washer/dryer/dishwasher, plus no car. We have each other and God. What more could we need?" It's difficult at times to keep perspective when her neighbors assume that certain appliances are "necessities," but Ann's article provides a healthy reality check and is a good model of what author Lisa McMinn would call the contented soul. So whenever we're tempted to keep up with the Joneses, remember Tim Stafford's encouragement: "Never mind the Joneses!"

Update: Ann just mentioned to me that she has two other articles at Relevant: "Five Commandments About Money," and "Spare Keys," where she tells the story of what happened when she loaned her car to a complete stranger. A great example of Christian generosity, hospitality, risk-taking and trust.


Craver Vii said...

Boy, that Ann is one strange bird! How can she possibly be an active participant in this thing we call “life” without accumulating all the stuff that TV commercials clearly demonstrate a need for? It just doesn’t make sense that a sane person could find contentment without all the newest things. All she needs is a little creative financing!

Besides, what kind of a testimony is she going to have as a Christian if she looks different from the rest of our world?

Anonymous said...

Wow. How true this is. This blog has helped me understand some of my difficulty (read: depression and angst) living in the suburbs. What's so frustrating is that many American evangelicals truly believe that dishwashers and trendy clothes are a necessity.