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Friday, May 2, 2014

Money Is Funny

Money is funny.

See how I did that? Yeah, it's a clever rhyme 'cause I'm cool like that.

It's been a while since I've blogged, mainly because I've been working in my spare time to bring in some moola (that's slang for "money," once again expressing my inner street-self). Not that I don't work every day; I definitely do, I just don't get paid for it. Taking care of three kids and a household is the worst-paying job I've ever had; I just have to trust all those kind, well-meaning people who tell me not to "wish it away," that these are the "best years" of my life. Errrrr...right.

On top of homeschooling my daughter, taking care of the family, and singing for a living, I am now working for a friend of mine who hired me out of pity. It's been a great fit so far, and I'm thankful that I can work from home and on my own timetable.

All of that being said, money is tight around my house these days. Not the impossible kind of tight, but the we-must-pinch-pennies kind of tight.

I do NOT want to sound like I'm whining; nothing gets under my skin more than hearing a high-school or college student tell me how poor they are.

I recognize the lack of severity of our problems. We can pay our bills. We can take our kids to Chickfila. We can even take an occasional vacation.

We also drive 10-year-old cars and have a much-smaller-than-average home. We shop with coupons and we give a large portion of our income away.

And we are happy. And grateful.

Yet this lifestyle, in the context of American culture, seems modest. It seems like we are lacking in comparison with The Joneses. We are "poor" because we can't sign our kids up for every activity they ask to participate in. We can't buy new clothes every season and we shop at Goodwill. We live on a budget.

And sometimes, when I'm weak and vulnerable and worn down, I pity myself.

Then there's this. This is what the rest of the world refers to as poverty:

Does this make you uncomfortable?

It should.

It makes me uncomfortable, and it makes me feel ashamed. Ashamed for all of the times when I have complained over my lot in life. Over my middle-class dream-of-an-existence.

I hear myself saying things like, "we don't really have any room in our budget to cut back on anything." And I want to throw up.

I hear myself say, "gosh, I wish I could make something good for dinner, but my grocery budget is gone for the month," so we have to make do with mac and cheese and frozen veggies. Oh, the horror.

My kids ate GMOs at each of their THREE MEALS today. God forbid.

I have to work some overtime to pay for a budgetary splurge. What an injustice!

And I am sick of myself. I am sick of this mindset. I am sick of this culture.

I am sick.

Many of the people who are poverty-stricken are sick, too. They're sick in body. But they're more often than not rich in spirit.

How is this possible?

Because money is an idol, money is an obstacle, and it keeps us more often than not from experiencing God and experiencing joy. There, I said it.

We see money as the solution to all of our problems when in fact money is usually at the ROOT of all of our problems.

Some days I get so angry at my own sinfulness and selfishness that I just want to run for a third-world country to experience the joy that those people have IN SPITE of their situations.

Please hear my heart when I say this: sometimes I am jealous of them.

There's a story in the Bible, specifically in the book of Matthew, about a rich young man who has everything he will ever need materially. He comes to Jesus and asks him how he can have eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the ten commandments, and the young man, probably feeling very relieved, says, "oh, I've done that." He then asks Jesus what else he lacks, and Jesus tells him, simply, to sell all of his possessions and follow Him. The Bible says the young man went away sorrowful, because had some fabulous possessions and he just couldn't rid himself of those things. After he leaves, Jesus tells His disciples,
"Truly I say to you, only with difficultly will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
What a terrifying, life-altering, important statement Jesus made in this moment! It's as though Jesus knew that money and stuff would become our ball and chain; imagine that!

I have been thinking on this a lot lately, on what it means to sell everything and follow Him. This might not mean to literally sell everything I have...but maybe it does. The point is, it's worth considering.

I don't have a fancy conclusion to this post, or some step-by-step action plan ready to engage. I am still in process. I am still sifting through my thoughts.

But something has to change in my heart, in my home, and in the homes of the Church.

We've got it all backward.