5.15.07 from the refuge blog…Downward Mobility

Well it’s official I am over the hill! 40 years old. I know those of you who have already hit this mark don’t have a lick of sympathy for me. My favorite card this year was made by my son Josh, who’s 15. Here’s what he made up:
Roses are red, violets are blue
You might be 40 but you look 22
Yeah, he’s a liar, but he loves me (and if you ever need a self-esteem lift, just talk to Josh, he’s the best at that). But really, I am realizing that this whole turning 40 thing has been harder than I thought it would be. I keep flashing back to the idealistic dreams I had when I was twenty. When I was young and stupid I definitely thought life would be a lot easier when I was forty. In my dream, I wouldn’t have to worry about money, I’d be at the pinnacle of my career, fairly chaos-free, I’d have my two perfectly behaved children and a maid who would clean my house every week. Somehow, someway in the last 20 years, things have gone awry. A lot of my friends from college are rich but I now make less money than I made almost 20 ago when I graduated from college. Chaos is a word many people use when describing my life, somehow two kids became five, and walk into my house and it’s quite clear that there’s not a maid to be seen! My big plans for upward mobility have been thwarted over the years. Things didn’t go quite the way I had hoped. What happened?

Jesus got a hold of me, that’s what happened. And he keeps ruining my plans for upward mobility. Every time I try to get it, it sort of slips away. I think that’s a little bit what happened to me in this past year and a half as I transitioned off the mega-church fast-track and back into real life. Power, status, money, whatever you call it, escaped me once again. Hmm, I am pretty sure those were the exact things Jesus railed against but I am so attracted to. Jesus’ plan seemed to be a lot more about downward mobility than up. That’s kind of the big idea in the Kingdom. Whoever is first shall be last and the last shall be first. The least of these…blessed are the poor in spirit…all of the things the world (and even the “church”) told me I should shoot for, achieve, do, really, in God’s economy, means nothing. God’s economy is about love, tangibly expressed. And boy am I surrounded by a lot of people who know how to do that well. Real, true, authentic people who don’t give a rip about upward mobility and 401k’s and color swatches for their walls. I am in the trenches with people who are fighting for their lives, trying to live it well, and fighting for mine, too. And they’re fighting for the lives of others who can’t fight for themselves, either. Yesterday I watched a video of the poorest of the poor in India, beautiful women and children ravaged by AIDS and living in the slums, sold into prostitution, sifting through garbage to find something to eat. I sat at this table with people who are smart, talented, educated who have sacrificed their careers, money, status and power, to care about the least of these. I was awed. And reminded, for the next 40 years, I will have to fight against my human nature to clamor for “upward mobility”, a bigger paycheck, more status and power and listen to Jesus’ call…go down, Kathy, downward mobility, that’s what I’m all about

I need to be reminded that Jesus’ words of blessing to the poor, marginalized, the downwardly mobile was not a threat, a coercion technique to force me into a miserable life. His call to me to go downward is His methodology for the abundant life, the easy yoke He places. If I crave His peace and presence, then I guess I have to trust His methods. Funny, isn’t it, that I think more money, power, status will give me security and a strong sense of self? Yet Jesus says it will be exactly the opposite…if I find my life, I will lose it…

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

One Comment

  • Instead of reading the paper in the morning, I find I’m reading your blog instead:) Definitely more informational….

    After losing my job 2x in the past 2 years and being unemployed and unable to work at times, I finally started to catch on to the fact that “work” in the sense that american society defines it is highly over-rated. Finding out who we are, finding out who God is, helping others find out who they are and over come the obstacles in their way…that’s what God intended. I am eternally grateful to the people who helped me crawl over my obstacles (when all I could do was crawl) and continue to help me crawl, stand up and walk, or watch me run when I can.

    I remember when I was younger questioning why my Sunday School teacher seemed to think that Jesus was a champion of Capitalism. I think it had to do with the cold war. I don’t really know the theory of communism either, so I don’t know if he was a champion of that one either. But I think he was definitly in favor of living in community with each other and that less is more. In this country, we’re encouraged to have the latest and greatest at the expense of each other. Many would rather have a new i-phone than an afternoon with a friend learning about each other. I know. I used to be one of them, but it was just a cover-up for my lack of connection. I couldn’t figure out a way to connect, so I made up for it with status symbols and hoped my “things” would draw people to me.

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