We have successfully raised two young men, while doing without any significant or consistent second income in a time when it takes at least two incomes to make it. Other than periodic full-time work, and periodic short-term or part-time work I did the first fifteen years of our marriage, my family and/or I have done without, (for various lengths of time, some continuing in the present);
- a dishwasher
- a second bathroom
- functional windows
- a decent vacuum cleaner
- new clothes
- smart phone
- any car
- new underwear and socks
- more than one pair of shoes for our boys
- fully stocked pantry
- reliable washer
- reliable dryer
- decent fridge
- central air
- needed renovations and maintenance on the house
- anniversary celebrations
- new furniture
- new cars
- videos, movies, CD’s, DVD’s
- any actual “set” of good cookware
- health insurance
- any income at all
- any savings at all
- swing set for the boys (when little)
- laptops, I-pads, I-Pods, cell phones for the boys (until they were in their teens)
- name brand labels
- professional hair cuts
But God has always supplied what we needed, and we have always had love, laughter, faith, shelter, and something to give when there was someone else in need.
We can all live without a lot of these things, and the standard of our “lifestyle” has been no different from many in America, and a whole lot better than others. We have been blessed beyond what many people ever possess or experience in most of the rest of the World. It is all a matter of perspective, and whether one chooses to be grateful for what they do have, or never satisfied.
I believe a hundred percent of contentment depends on our thoughts. Does that mean I am a hundred percent content, a hundred percent of the time? No! But I can honestly say that I am at least 90% content, 99% of the time! In a world where the church often tells you that you should always be smiling, and that any “trouble” in your life is due to your lack of faith, I’d say that’s pretty good! In a world where many people spend all of their energy either seeking pleasure, or working to earn money in order to seek pleasure, that 90% content/99% of the time, is no small feat.
To what do I attribute this, you ask?
Well, a big chunk of the credit probably owes to my simple and modest upbringing. Part of the credit also goes to having attended the school of hard knocks, and making it to middle age. A huge chunk goes to knowing this world and this life are not all there is. Another factor in the favor of contentment, is prayer which includes thankfulness. The rest I guess can put down to faith and to determination and intention to monitor and manage my mindset. There are things that throw it off from time to time, so that principle doesn’t always hold true, but for the most part, it’s like falling off a bike, you just have to get back on.
Some folks can’t comprehend how I exist on such an “only today” kind of basis. That is, I don’t assume a tomorrow that may never come, but I also don’t expect myself to accomplish everything today. Tomorrow will take care of itself. That’s what the Bible says. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof! Sounds all virtuous don’t it? I didn’t get that way from my own effort.
According to my Mom, my Dad used to worry all the time, about everything. According to my Dad, one day he just decided to quit. Well, I think my Mom might argue that she was then forced to take up his share of the worrying. But is that accurate? We each can make the same determination or decision not to worry. It is impossible to hold two opposite thoughts in one’s head at the same time. So when we worry, we should re-direct our thougts purposely onto something we can count on, or something we can be thankful for. We don’t really take up someone else’s worries. If we do, we only borrow more worry unto ourselves without removing any of it from the other person, so that’s really just multiplication, isn’t it? I’m not great at math, but I think that’s about right.
Olympic-caliber worriers truly believe they are incapable of stopping their worry. And I concur that the more real (not imagined) responsibility a person has, the tougher it may be to not worry.
I can’t take a lot of credit for not worrying, because what led me to mostly give it up was my exhaustion. With chronic sleep disorders, I can’t afford the energy it eats up. Lower your expetations! That’s not something you’re going to hear from your average “motivational” speaker, but you ought to try it! Same goes for anger and bitterness, and in some cases, where you’ve done all you can to make amends and restitution, it also goes for regrets. These are lessons that took me a long time to learn. Circumstances being what they have been, by God’s sovereignty, I had a good bit pressing me that direction and would not have gone that way willingly on my own.
Now, note, I didn’t say I am happy 99% of the time, joyous 99% of the time, nor even positive and upbeat. If you go around with a dopey ever-present grin, I’d say chances are pretty high that you are totally clueless (ignorance is bliss), on drugs, or maybe brain-damaged. There are some exceptions to that rule. We all probably have known someone in our lives who literally, judging from all our experience of them, “unsinkable”. But we probably just weren’t around to see when they did sink. This expectation that everybody ought to be happy-happy-happy just flies in the face of, well, reality, to be frank!
Turn ourselves inside out, scrape out everything in us until we’re nothing but an empty rind, and it’s still not enough for being all that. Choices have to be made. A pie can be cut in half, and each half cut in half…theoretically speaking,indefinitely, but the further it goes, the more miniscule each successive sliver will be.
We have been falsely told that women can be everything a man can be, do anything a man can do. We are told that two dads or two moms are as good as one of each. Children are told that they can be anything they want when they grow up. Women are told they can be superwoman in the workplace and at home simultaneously, as mother, employer/employee, wife, sister, daughter, friend, all at once. Now we are being told that women can literally become men, and men can become women, just by choosing, and the non-insane among us are expected to fully affirm these delusions! I’m sorry, but your DNA would beg to differ!
Lies! A bill of goods. You’ve been lied to, people! Come on!
Commen sense has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Or, perhaps the afflicted are channeling the Dodo bird. Dodo birds were not actually stupid, they were just very trusting, foolishly so. And that’s what people are today, having been trained in the public school system and academia, to never actually think for themselves. They are like teenagers who prattle on about “individuality” while doing everything they can to look like everyone else. You’d think there would be better insight when those same kids got to be adults, but no, apparently not. Now they are being totally brain-washed while believing they are independant thinkers. Brainwashed by movies, network news, “think tanks”, politicians, spin-doctors, music, even social media.
I am so glad that God saw fit via the Bible to tell us that one day He is going to restore sanity and order in the world. Indeed, one day, all of this will burn and a new Earth will take it’s place!
Don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to that, myself.
Next entry: E is for Empty