Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Less I Have...


When I was younger (say, 15 - 20 years ago...) my thought was that the less I had, the more I WANTED.... 20 years ago, my husband and I were still newlyweds and had no children of our own. He had two children from a previous marriage, that we saw every other weekend and for longer periods of time during the summer and holidays. We both worked for humble incomes, had horrible spending habits, and even though we made PLENTY to sustain our home, more often we often came up short... We wanted MORE...

As years went by, because of a windfall of money paid out to my husband for a job related injury, we purchased a good car and opened our own business. We worked long and hard to build up and promote our business and were able to do quite well, as far as income... It was our out go that still had some BIG kinks in it... and as our business grew so did our expenses, but even THAT didn't seem to curb our STILL horrible spending habits... We managed to become well known in our community for our business, and lots of customers that we gained the confidence of, sending more and more people our way. We had it made... but after 10 years, the business was wavering, as we grew tired and depressed from the long hours and weeks. It seemed like LOTS of money was always flowing in to the office but there was still nothing, really to show for it... We struggled with our marriage, my step son was living with us, but we barely saw him unless it was at the office, I was pregnant with our second son and SO tired of the chaos that self employment brought. Payroll started cutting in to our own expenses and we played a lot of "money musical chairs" and robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak... We KNEW we wanted MORE...

My step-son turned 18 and moved on to seek his own fortune and our lives continued to struggle. After 10 years, unable to go any further we called it quits on the business... with no real plan in mind, we closed the doors and filed bankruptcy... financially and emotionally... That's when I learned I was pregnant with #3... I wanted more, but not necessarily more children....

With both of us out of work, Despite the nausea and exhaustion from pregnancy, I went to work as a substitute school teacher while my husband looked for full time employment. We had no choice... Our family of 4 1/2 was learning to live on less than $900 a month, with $550 of it going to pay the rent each month, I was at least grateful we were no longer going IN the hole with payroll and other business expenses... We went without a lot of the things that we had grown so used to having... cable, cell phones, credit cards, vacations, new clothes, eating out... You might think that I look back on that time as a time of dread that I wouldn't wish on anyone... But for me, it was a wonderful turning point... I think it's the time that instead of wanting "more" I began to realize how much I "had" already... It's the point in time where I realized the difference between "want" and "need"...

It was still another 8 years, and two children before we were able to crawl our way out of that hole and actually buy a home of our own, 21 years after we were married. Lots of frustrations and road blocks along the way... But here we are... Though I really don't want to go back to that time in our lives, I wouldn't change it for anything... It taught me life lessons that has made us stronger for it. You know how the saying goes, "that which doesn't kill you can only make you stronger"?... It really did! The lessons we learned about our lives, our life style, what's really important, all came in to focus during that time! Among other things, it made our marriage stronger. And THAT is priceless... Especially in this day and age of broken families... I am SO thankful for my marriage and family, despite the other "stuff" that we may or may not have...

Now, don't get me wrong... Everything hasn't been "peaches and roses" since that time... I still go through my struggles with "want" and "need"... but they seem fewer and further between, now... I remember seeing something when we were in our lowest time about "When you find out that God is all you have left, you figure out that God is all you need..." So true... I couldn't have come through without Him...

I remember these events now, contemplating the number of friends, family, acquaintances, etc., currently going through rough marriages... Some are struggling to stay together, some have already split, some speak of it as if there is no other option... It all breaks my heart... And there are lots of different reasons for the troubles. Some are pretty serious and not all are about money or finance... though money and finance is one of the BIGGEST reasons couples/families split up... But after 22 years and 5 children with my spouse I feel like we have gotten through some very stressful situations and I look back at our rougher areas with gratitude and the maturity that the years have brought.... I always seemed to be JUST where God wanted me to be... I have replaced "WANTING more", with realizing "HOW MUCH" we really already have and clinging to those blessings when the waters get rough, again... and they do, and they will... Squeeze your family tight.... and if you can't do that right now, then pray for them. Pray for healing in your own soul, mind and spirit, then pray the same for your family. Then offer your sufferings for other broken families. The numbers are epidemic...

3 comments:

laureldandelions said...

Auntie Lee, I love this post! I feel the same way about our first year of marriage. Not having our own place for the first part, and then not being able to afford anything but rent for the next part. But that's when we were relying on each other a lot and spending time with God. Love you!

Andi said...

Thank you for this post. Down here we really struggle with keeping up with the Jones. I've actually initiated a YEAR of decluttering and organization. We're pretending that we're moving and just getting rid of as much as much little junk as possible and it is truly making our lives more peaceful.

granola catholic said...

We have a similar story. Our fortunes have risen and fallen throughout our lives together. There were times we both were without jobs. But God gives us the strength to carry on and continue. We have learned to do without things and quite frankly we have gotten used to it and don't miss things so much. We have learned to put People before things.