Archive for the ‘King James Bible’ Tag

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.   4 comments

‘Tis the Season…

Since I saw my first Christmas commercials within the last four weeks, I thought this would be a good time to discuss that most important subject that inspires the emotions that take over at this time of year. I’m not talking about the birth of a great Master, I’m talking about the subject of…money.

Funny subject to bring up around Christmas, you think? Not really. From now until after New Year’s when you are reminded of the huge sales in which you could be participating, you will be bombarded with commercials that push the latest game, toy, clothing, even cars that will make your loved ones happy. Without these gifts you will be a lousy mom or dad or spouse or friend and don’t forget it!

Never mind that you don’t have the money to afford these gifts. Never mind that you will take your charge card and max it out which will end up with payments you can’t make. Never mind that you can layaway these gifts at various stores that will end up costing you more than you would have paid in cash. And never mind that you will be beset with worry and anxiety and fear that what you give or do will never be enough to make life feel better for your family or friends or even yourself. There will never be enough to make you feel better so you buy and buy and buy and give and give and give and hope that somehow that fear and anxiety will go away.

Certainly over-spending is a symptom of fear and anxiety and a need to fill an emptiness inside. But our relationship with the concept of money itself needs examining. We have been taught from childhood on that without money we would be ‘in need.’ A good education was emphasized so we could make more money to ensure that we would never have to feel ‘in need.’ We were told that to have little money or no money at all was bad and we would be ‘in need.’ To have the best and latest car, the biggest house, the newest clothes, the latest gadget – without them, without the money we would need to buy them, filled us with fear and anxiety and we would be ‘in need.’ And this was and is a tragedy.

No, it’s not a tragedy that we would be ‘in need’ if by ‘need’ you mean that we would have the latest car.  The tragedy has been that we have never been taught that having ‘just enough’ would be a good thing. Most of us can’t even comprehend what ‘just enough’ is. Just enough? What does that even mean?

Well, it means having enough to fill my needs for today. Being happy with what I have today. Knowing and trusting that my needs are filled tomorrow and for each day after that. To not covet what others have and being content with where I am and what I have now. That’s what ‘just enough’ means.

But how do you do that? You “know” that you only have so much in your paycheck and that your bills exceed that amount. You “know” that the cost of food has gone up and that you haven’t bought fresh fruit or vegetables in months because you can’t afford it. You “know” that your electricity bill is going up and you feel helpless to do anything about it. You “know” that your phone bill is high because you’re stuck with a lousy contract and your teen’s texting is out of control. These are facts, you believe, and you can’t do anything about them.

This isn’t the place to discuss what each person can do to counter the ‘facts’ as stated above. They can all be handled in a completely different way with the use of sales, coupons, unplugging unused electrical components, turning off texting, or horrors!…just doing without. The library and the internet have plenty of advice on how to live within a budget and how to create a budget if you don’t know how. No, here we talk about the beliefs we have about living within a budget and how we feel about that so-called ‘limitations’ of doing so.

Each person can define what is “enough” for her. Each person can choose to see their paycheck as ‘not enough’ or ‘just enough.’ Each person who has exactly what he needs to meet his bills each month while putting money in savings and paying off debt if there is any has the choice to see himself as really needy or as perfectly complete. We all do.

And if we don’t have the latest and greatest of anything, why do we perceive this is a lack in our lives? Why do we see ourselves as ‘less than’ if we have a car that’s five or ten years old and not one purchased this year? Why does it have to be the biggest and most expensive car and not a lower, less costly and less ‘sexy’ car? What do we believe it says about ourselves if our car isn’t what society claims is the ‘best?’ If our beliefs say that we are not the ‘best’ or are even bad without the best, then of course we want to do do whatever it takes to make us feel better. It doesn’t occur to us to change our own beliefs about what being ‘bad’ means. No, we simply aim to change the results of our beliefs by buying more and certainly the ‘best.’

What if we had been taught from birth that we could be happy with what we have, that being rich meant our needs would be met and that today would always be taken care of and to trust that tomorrow would be also? I know this is hard to conceive when all we’ve ever know was poverty or haven’t had a job in months and bills are going unpaid and Christmas is coming and we have no money set aside for gifts. How can we possibly feel happy when so much is missing from our lives?

Since I’ve been in this place myself and have known what that fear feels like, I can tell you that it has taken practice to change this belief but it can be done. The first most important belief I had to change was that I was ‘good’ and that no amount of money would make me any better than what I was now. While it doesn’t have to take as long for you as it had for me, still it took years for me to change this belief and I have relapses now and again but nowhere near as many as before. The concept of money being associated with my being, my self-image as good or bad is just no longer a huge problem in my life.

I live on a fixed income now and while I do have money in savings, I’ve learned contentment with what I have, to not covet what another person has, or to associate my happiness with possessing the latest in anything. My clothes are simple and usually bought used (though I have scored a couple of great stylish outfits from thrift shops). My car is ‘pre-owned’ and functional and totally un-stylish and the functional part is the most important. My apartment is modest and my furniture is either gifts from my sister and brother-in-law or purchased used from Goodwill or Salvation Army with an occasional Walmart sale thrown in. There are a few new pieces but they were on sale and paid for with cash. And I am very happy with what I have and have no doubts that my needs will always be taken care of. I certainly have what I need today and tomorrow will come with its own replenishment.

Does this mean that having or wanting money is a bad thing? Not at all. It is the love of money, not money itself, that is the fruit of all evil. Only when money becomes something to covet and hold on to because of the fear inside us does it become a source of discontent, anxiety, greediness and unhappiness. If you have enough money to buy a nicer house, a better car, the latest electronic gadget or designer clothes, great! But if it takes credit cards and debt to buy these than your so-called ‘needs’ must become only as much as you can truly afford to pay – either in cash on the spot, or if you use a credit card, with the balance paid off each month. And don’t forget the all-important savings that must be set aside each month so a credit card for ’emergencies’ isn’t necessary.

And what about tomorrow? We worry so much about what tomorrow will bring when it is so much healthier and happier to trust that everything will be there for us to have. To live in the moment and for the Now is a far happier place to be!  There’s probably not much scientific facts to back up my statements, but I’ve learned that when I have taken what necessary steps that I’ve had to bring about my intent and then have simply trusted in the universe to do so, then it happened. It really happened. It’s as if I stepped aside and just let the universe take over, and once I was out of the way with my worries and fears then it had the space to bring about solutions that I had never imagined. I’ve had this happen to me over and over, including money appearing literally out of the blue to take care of a problem that I’ve had. These have been wonderful events and each time they’ve happened I’ve gained even more trust that my needs would be met no matter what the so-called ‘reality’ around me indicated.

I’m reminded of that lovely discourse by Jesus in the Book of Matthew in which he tells the people that they need not be concerned about their needs for tomorrow.*  Here’s the last part which is a good conclusion to this essay:

25 ¶ Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory 1 Kgs. 10.4-7 · 2 Chr. 9.3-6 was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 ¶ Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

 

To learn to live within a limited income and happily, to not covet or want more than I have has given me great peace of mind. It has required changing my entire attitude towards wanting, towards discerning between needs and wants, and being happy with what I have. Every morning I sit and meditate and focus on my place in the universe and know that I am well taken care of and loved and satisfied. I hope in this season of giving that you will feel that you are, too.

 

*The Holy Bible, Mathew 6, King James Version, 2000 – American Bible Society

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