Many of you by now know my story … I was a fairly comfortably-situated, somewhat – though unwittingly – spoiled brat, too often ungrateful and selfish Army wife for the first 12 years of my marriage. I became a Christian at a young age and always wanted to – intended to – serve the Lord, but usually on my own terms and for my own convenience. Then God got a hold of my husband’s heart while he was deployed to Iraq in 2003-04. He soon left the Army for an open door of ministry in a Christian school.
In these last 7 years in the ministry, while we have increased immensely in our faith (speaking probably more for me – as my husband has always had very sure trust in God’s provision), we have done what many Americans would never ever ever consider doing – because it really isn’t normal in the scheme of American thinking: we have gone financially backwards. It wasn’t so different when I worked full-time for 3 years, but then my health and well-being required that I reduce my hours – and eventually I had a baby and now I work a few hours a week from home (and am incredibly thankful I can!!). Over time, we’ve given up our kids’ college funds, contributing to our Roth IRA, and any extras we didn’t absolutely “need”. We decided to depend on God for those areas instead.
I don’t regret our choice, and we did it willingly and knowingly. Well, I wasn’t always willing – and much like the Israelites who after the Exodus dreamed of “going back to Egypt,” I sometimes resented having to pinch pennies and try to live on a tight budget. BUT it has been so good for me -and I am so incredibly thankful for being allowed to see God provide our needs when we knew we couldn’t! He has even provided so many of our “wants” over the last few years that I’ve been amazed at how personally God knows my heart.
That doesn’t mean I have gotten everything I’ve wanted – in fact, I’m still waiting for God to answer my now over-2-years-in-waiting prayer for a minivan … and sometimes going “shopping” is so frustrating because I feel horribly guilty when I buy something that I think we probably can’t afford. But in the end, we have everything we need – plus many conveniences like a laptop computer with moderately-high-speed internet and electric heat that kicks on whenever the thermostat tells it to! I have a dishwasher and washing machine. And if I don’t watch too many commercials on TV or look around at what my friends have that I don’t, I am very content with my life as it is. Mostly I am thankful my children are learning their happiness should NOT come from material items. FAMILY TIME is more important than any gadget or video game – and that said, believe me, my kids don’t lack for electronic devices such as a Wii, digital camera, DVDs, or hand-held video games … while they don’t have the MOST recent version, they are happy and thankful. (at least I tell them to be! ha!)
And so, we live contently without DVR on our bulky, old TV, without satellite radio, and my husband and I share one simple cell phone (non-smart-phone!). We still use many of the bath towels we got for our wedding 19 years ago, our bed sheets are very low thread count, and some things we have are hand-me-downs or bought at Goodwill. But I’m not saying that to complain. While I can let my mind go when I get on-line and wander to wishing I had a fancier home or a nicer vehicle … I can honestly say I am thankful that we have as much as we do! Best of all, we have a happy marriage, healthy children who seem to have a heart for God, and a toddler in our home again who brings us so much joy and laughter each day … We have extended family who support us and dear friends who have stuck by us for years and years! In the light of eternity it is the PEOPLE and the TIME spent with them that will last – not all the “stuff” we accumulate here on earth.
While I think as long as you can afford things, by all means, enjoy the modern conveniences this world provides. I don’t think iPhones are wrong or having a fancy vehicle that practically drives itself – in fact, honestly, I’d love to someday experience both of those things!! But I realize by living with less that modern conveniences sure make for a spoiled generation of people! I saw it the clearest when I worked at a school office for 6 years … it is AMAZING how pampered some children not only are (and I’m all for treating our children with kindness and surprising them with an occasional indulgence or treat!) but EXPECT their lives to be. I think there have been many studies done on how young people today are leaving their parents’ homes much much later than they used to – or coming back to the family home after puttering aimlessly around – trying college, trying a job, “finding themselves” by traveling …
Even in our church, if the temperature isn’t just right, it is amazing how many people complain that they are too hot or too cold … In fact, the rampant COMPLAINING in almost every situation is amazing and overwhelming to me!! Just work with people for a little while, and you will hear it.
So, before I step off my soap box for the day, I want to share with you what triggered my essay today … It was a commercial I saw the other day for 3 PLY TOILET PAPER:
Are we THAT spoiled that we need 3 ply toilet paper
!? Two ply isn’t enough??? In fact, just a few years ago, our school purchased 1-ply toilet paper by accident – and the complaints we received left us with an excess of 1-ply t.p. that I brought several rolls of home with me because we were practically forced to replace it immediately! My kids didn’t notice there was a difference.
And there are actually TOILET PAPER RESEARCHERS
… and there are marketing strategies in place for toilet paper!! In fact, I am almost at the target audience for 3-ply t.p. because supposedly this toilet paper is for “women 45 and older who view their bathroom as a ‘sanctuary for quality time’.” Of course, if my bathroom had a garden spa tub with jets, a shower with a TV in it and multiple, multi-faceted streams of water, and a heated tile floor with vanity table with just-so lighting and surround-sound stereo – yeah – maybe I’d consider my bathroom a sanctuary that required 3-ply toilet paper too??!!