Friday, November 25, 2011

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Years ago when I first became a full time stay at home mom, my husband admitted to me that he was struggling with a little jealousy at his workplace. Many of the other men were getting new trucks. One guy got one & then the chain reaction started. One by one, nearly every guy on staff got a new truck! With us living on just one income, it wasn't possible for us. And to be honest, the truck he had was perfectly fine. But seeing all those shiny new trucks made him want one!

Many years & lots of maturity later, we are both so glad that he didn't get a new truck back then. We understand now that a new truck would have meant a higher payment, higher insurance premiums, and in that situation, a higher gas bill because those trucks were larger & had bigger engines & bigger gas tanks!

All these years later, I've found myself struggling with a touch of the green-eyed monster lately. I am not typically a jealous person. I find great pleasure in seeking out ways to save money and have not ever spent a great deal of time sitting around, feeling sorry for myself about things we don't have. The truth is, we have plenty. Everyone is clothed & fed and we have a roof over our heads. What more do we need? (nothing!)
But lately, I've found myself rolling around in some miry muck at the bottom of a nasty pit of envy & jealousy.

You know the "one up" game? The one where you compare your life or accomplishments with another person's & try to "one up" them by listing your 1-step-better-than-theirs achievements? I've been doing that. But it's like a twisted reverse version ... more like "Are you as poor as I am?". Someone will mention being broke & I find myself rolling my eyes & thinking "I bet I'm more broke than you are. I bet I have fewer dollars in my bank account than you. I bet I have to make do with less gas, less food, less clothing, less whatever than you. You don't have it as bad as me."

When friends talked about going to Black Friday sales this morning, buying electronics and other items, I couldn't help but think poorly of them. As if their savings, their good spending habits, their higher incomes (& good deals!) were meant to hurt & offend me.

A friend privately mentioned her husband's annual income recently & I secretly got mad about it. This is a girlfriend who has shared before how little they make and their struggle to make ends meet. And now this? Her husband's salary alone is more than Larry & I make combined! But they live in a different part of the country where the cost of living is different, so they may very well feel just as strapped as we do based on their cost of living.

What in the world is wrong with me?? Why am I so concerned with how broke I am & how much everyone else (at least in my mind) has? Geez Louise! I've spent much of my day rolling that around in my head & wondering why I have felt this way lately & it all comes down to one thing.

Envy. Greed. Selfishness.

I realize those are buzz words at this time of year when so many people have a bad case of the "gimmes". The truth is, I can't name ONE SINGLE ITEM that I want (or need) for Christmas. In fact, my only woe this year is the fact that I can't afford to GIVE more. Not to fill stockings or pile presents under our own tree, but to help other people. I would love to be able to hand out cash to every Salvation Army bell ringer... and to give to every love offering, every charity, every missionary I would like to support.... to begin sponsoring a child in several countries... to get a handful of angels off the angel trees we see locally & send them gifts... to be able to help a single mom or a poor family. Not having money to spare to help other people bums me out far more than not having extra money to pile more crap into my kids' closets.

But somehow hearing how much other people are spending on their children's Christmas gifts or their Black Friday purchases has bothered me today. Maybe on some level, it's noble in some weird, screwed up way because I see such waste in those 3 AM purchases. How many children could've been sponsored for the cost of that Playstation? How many Bibles could we have sent to the mission field with the cost of that TV? But's just selfishness. I want to have some money to waste, too!

Or I THINK I do anyway.

The truth is, God has been showering me with Scriptures and reminders of what He really wants for me all day. They've shown up in the craziest places. But isn't that just like God to make sure I see them by placing them strategically throughout my day? Early this morning, a friend posted this one as her status on Facebook.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

And that one reminded me of this Scripture by Paul in Philippians chapter 4.

10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. 15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. 18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

A website I was looking at had this picture.

While driving to the grocery store tonight, I passed a neighborhood where a girlfriend lives & something she said 3-4 years ago replayed in my mind. She was telling me how convicted she was about complaining about her awful job at the time. She said,

"God has told me that He's not going to give me something better until I'm thankful for what I have! Until I can drop to my knees every morning & praise Him for giving me this horrible job, and truly mean it!, He is not going to move mountains or change the tides on my behalf!"

While sitting here writing this post, the Casting Crowns song "Praise You in this Storm" has played through my mind over & over. Especially this part.

I was sure by now God You would have reached down And wiped our tears away Stepped in and saved the day But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining As the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain "I'm with you" And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives And takes away
And I'll praise You in this storm And I will lift my hands For You are who You are No matter where I am And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand You never left my side And though my heart is torn I will praise You in this storm

Tonight I can't help but fall on my face before Him. To ask forgiveness. To praise Him.

To thank Him for my very life, for my family, for my friends, for Scripture, for provision of our every need, for reminders all around me to focus on Him & be content with what I have. And for this struggle.

Lord, help me thank you for the fight to survive each month. For the negative numbers on the bank website. For the tough, hard stuff. For every lesson You're teaching me the hard way, because I obviously don't listen when You try to show me any other way.
Jesus, make me hungry....but ONLY for you! Remind me that you, ONLY you, can truly satisfy me. Drop me to my knees again & again. It's only there that I can truly see the things I have & there that I lose sight of what others have. It's there that you show me you are ALL I need.


Anonymous said...

Well said Liz.
Cindy Newland

MKUM said...

Amazing how He turns your envies into humbleness and lessons. His lesson is to not judge and pray you can be a witness by your humbleness, nonjudgement & knowing and accepting your limitations, because you are not the only one they are counting on & others can and will step up and if not IT IS HIS WILL

A battle I fight all the time. I'm still learning.

christschild said...

What a beautiful, reminding post. I really needed to hear this. And like you said God has been sending you hints...I think He used your experience as a hint for me. I could use your prayers. School has me really bummed out right now. I am repeating my 2nd semester and still barely failing the hard class. I know I am here for a reason, and I may never understand why, but still it's for a reason...maybe to learn something....but I'm still bummed about it. I want to be home with my kids and to homeschool them. My hubby and I both feel it's what God wants....we were just sending me to school first because we felt that's what God wanted too. That way I could work a few nights a week, while he was home with the kids and then I could homeschool them the other days. Things just aren't turning out the way we had thought. I'm just really depressed about it...but really trying not to be. I've been praying that God will show me what He wants of us...we will do it, whatever it is. I'm just really trying to be positive throught these last 3 weeks of school...going to clinicals I really, really don't want to go to. Studying for test, I really don't want to study for. Sorry to be negative, just helps to get it off my chest and to ask for prayers. Thank you for this post. I really feel I was meant to read it today.
Blessings to you,