Friday, December 16, 2011

Not Blessed???? It's all in the Looking

Well, the media has confirmed something that I already instinctively knew.  I am no longer in the middle of American middle class.  My standard of living is lower than what my parents experienced.  I, like many other Americans, find myself on the lower end of the scale.  Tell me something I didn’t already know, will ya?

Money isn’t my driving factor.  Sure, it would be nice to have a little more just to be able to go out shopping once in awhile.  But, I’m fortunate-I still have a roof over my head.  I know how to cook and bake which helps.  I don’t need the latest fanciest vehicle.  My husband has been able to keep our vehicles running because he is a grease monkey mechanic at heart!  He works on cars for fun!  My Jeep has 280,000 plus miles on it and it’s still running well.  It’s a much older model than most people would drive and I have it because of where we live.  There are certain times of the year when the only way to get in and out of “east middle of nowhere” is with 4 wheel drive.  So, it’s not a status thing, it’s a practical thing.  Shelter, food, water, they are the essentials and right now, we’re covered!  When you think about all of the individuals just in the United States who have no shelter and no food, let alone individuals around the world who are in a similar situation, it’s tough to complain when you are in better shape than they are!

There are many people in this country who would look at me and pity how I live.  I don’t have as much as they do.  I don’t get to eat out or go to the movies or shop.  I don’t live in as nice a house as they do.  I don’t drive as nice a car as they do.  Compared to them, they view my life as dismal.

I have a different view.  I pity them for being so enslaved to the almighty dollar.  A beautiful sunset can take my breath away.  Watching the birds in the yard can be highly entertaining.  Seeing deer or wild turkeys wander through is priceless.  Playing board games with my children and seeing them become better and better is a wonderful feeling!  My children are healthy.  I’m able to spend time with them.  I can come up with an amazing meal from practically nothing.  My husband can fix practically anything!  I appreciate what I have and I’m not caught up in wanting more things.  I don’t feel the overwhelming need to keep up with the Joneses.  I know eventually that our financial situation will improve.  This is only temporary.

In the Beatitudes many people quote it as saying blessed are the poor.  But it actually says “blessed are the poor in spirit” and my Wesleyan study bible refers to that as meaning humility.  Blessed are those who have a spirit of humility for they shall inherit the kingdom.

Humility is a much talked about virtue but it’s not always an embraced virtue.  Being happy with what you have.  Sharing your gifts with others, not looking for the limelight when you do something.  It can be a tough road to walk when you live in a society that preaches so strongly against such an idea!  Somehow, you should never be satisfied.  Somehow, you should always be wanting more.  Working, striving, questing, never having enough.  Working to better ourselves is not wrong, but when you define “bettering yourself” as only a dollars and cents equation, you’ll find that you are never satisfied.  You get that promotion or pay raise and it’s an empty victory because it is still not enough.  What was the price for that victory?  How many missed dinners?  Or missed ball games, or recitals?  How much living have you missed out on because you’re trying to “make a living?”

I may be poor, money wise, by U.S. standards but I can live with that!  I will admit that there are moments of melancholy when I wish I could go out and buy something because I really do need to replace a certain item but they pass.  I still have more things than a vast majority of the people in the world.  I have things that money can’t buy-time with my family and nature at my doorstep.  Things could be so much worse!

Let us remember what really matters in life.  It’s not how much money you make.  It is about how you live and how much you love.  That is the thing that truly matters!  Everything else is secondary, regardless of what the media tries to tell you!  Blessed are the poor in spirit because they will inherit the kingdom!  Amen!

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