I answered the phone in my matchbox apartment as I unpacked one last wedding gift. A set of dishes that I thought were the coolest thing I’d ever seen when I was a 21 year old college student dreaming of setting up her own home. A set of dishes that I no longer love with the same fervor that I did then.
My husband of three weeks was on the other end.
“I got the job,” he said.
“Great!” I answered. “Congratulations.”
When we left for our honeymoon, we thought he had a job lined up, but we’d been surprised to return home and find out the job had fallen through. This was a hasty interview set up at the last minute for a job selling printers for Hewlitt-Packard in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
His salary was meager, but it was more than enough for the two of us, and given that it was our first experience living alone in the real world, we felt kind of like Scrooge McDuck swimming through his vault full of gold.
some many days that I miss those early years when we lived more on love than on cash. We had so much fun, and between his salary, and my earnings as a gymnastics coach, we had just what we needed to enjoy the newlywed life. We knew even then that we were beyond blessed, and that we had more than we really needed.
As life has moved forward, and careers advanced, we have, naturally, been able to increase our earning capacity, and with each salary raise, each new job, I find myself missing more and more that feeling of freedom that comes when you don’t have a lot of money.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? Ironic to equate having less money with freedom. Granted, we had no children, which made our lower earning less of a strain, but there is still a sense of freedom that washes over me when I remember those early days.
Freedom from want. Freedom from the desire for possessions. Freedom in contentment.
When children enter the picture, you naturally amass more “stuff.” The bills increase with each sports team joined, each new endeavor tested. These aren’t bad things, of course, but I find myself slowly and methodically being chased.
Chased by the want of more.
The more we’re blessed with, the more I find myself wanting.
I want to take this vacation.
I want to purchase that new furniture.
I want to buy my children this new toy, or that new outfit.
I want to eat out because OMG THEY NEED TO EAT THREE TIMES A DAY EVERY DAY!
I want, I want, I want…
When the “wants” start to close in, Lee and I ask ourselves a few questions:
First, is this something that we need? This is often the toughest question to answer, because sometimes the answer can legitimately be “Yes,” but the item may still be more frivolous than we’re willing to really admit.
Second, can these funds be put to better use elsewhere? We have two children poised to enter the world of orthodontia. We got the estimate for Phase 1 the other day, which has now taken precedence over a few of the other things we were hoping to spend money on. It is what it is, even if it’s not fun.
Third, will this purchase hinder us from giving freely? This is the area in which I feel God has most freed us as a couple in the last three years. While we used to think of ourselves as joyful, cheerful givers, often when the time came to actually do the giving, we had a hard time pulling the trigger, or we gave less than we actually could because we were afraid to let go.
In the last three years, the Lord has shaken our family in so many ways, moving us across the country, leading us down the path of failed adoption, allowing us to take a mission trip together as a family, and hosting K in our home last Christmas. All of these experiences have worked to create a deep desire in us to give more, and give abundantly, because we’ve finally grasped the understanding that what we have, we do not deserve.
We want to give it away.
I often feel chased by wants. There so many things I want to do, places I want to go, changes I want to make.
But before we fulfill any of those desires, what I really want is to make sure my heart and motives are checked first. Because there’s a fine line that separates just enough and too much, and with three (soon to be four) sets of little eyes watching closely, the want that I must place first and foremost, is the desire to show them that life is so much more full when you give it away.
And that is a want I’m willing to surrender to, every. single. time.