Monday, March 4, 2013

View From My Living Room


It's a beaut, isn't it?

The circumstances of life don't always play out like a pretty picture book.

I know what we were promised.

Work hard for a long time.

Get a good education.

Find a good job.

Build a family.

And after you do that for 5-10 years or so, at the MOST, that beautiful, small middle-class house with the clunky minivan, heirloom garden and an unspecified number of gifted children will fall into your lap.

Or maybe that's not the story?

It may be somebody's story.

And that's OK.

But it is not our story.

Our family here and now. How? Why? For how long?

I think there are many answers and I will never know all of them. But here are some.

This is the last place in the vicinity of my husband's job that we can afford to live in. Now, he makes a decent salary, no quibbles there. But the cost of living has skyrocketed to borderline insane and it keeps rising every year. And instead of going further into crippling debt, a door was opened for us to rent our home in a low income area.

Are we financially disadvantaged? I guess it's all in how you look at it.

We are a loving, united family. We have money for food. We are decently clothed. (By that I mean covered, not always matching or stylish.) We are chipping away at our debts. We have transportation. Internet. I could go on with this list. What is important here is that we have all we really need. The bare necessities. Would I like a little more frosting? You bet!

I dream of a modest-sized house with an open kitchen, a huge yard where the kids romp with puppies and kittens, care-free adventures in the woods, a garden, fruit trees, maybe chickens. And an apiary. (Yep. It'll be the bee's knees!) I hold on to these dreams as a hope for the future.

But I cherish the now.

Ok, so some of our adventures are fire drills, plumbing emergencies, making it all the way to the playground without stepping on broken glass or goose dung, or mysterious "pop" sounds at night that never get explained.

And some of our adventures are meeting our tired, but hard-working, vibrant, generous neighbors.

People who don't let "low income" define who they are.

Who don't let poverty turn their souls inside out.

Who thrive on noisy, food-filled, crowded togetherness.

Everywhere I look, I see beautiful people with the same or even greater challenges than I am facing and I am encouraged by their example.

God doesn't love us less and he DOES NOT ABANDON the poor!

I have learned that contentment isn't just a feeling of well-being.

Contentment is a discipline.

It's how you choose to look at life and the apparent hardships around you.

And it's something I may never have figured out if the only life I ever knew was cookie-cutter, suburban dream homes.

My eyes are opened now. I see that most of the world doesn't live this way.

That the idea that our joy is defined by poverty or wealth is an illusion.

That what matters most is faith, hope and love, but the greatest is love.

Always love.

Note: This is not meant to be a comprehensive look at social classes, our current political system or issues of social justice. I am aware of these issues and that we live in places of brokenness. When I speak of contentment, I do not wish to be misconstrued as encouraging social inaction. My intention is to demonstrate that our circumstances do not have to dictate our attitudes. Please keep this in mind when you comment. Thank you.

6 comments:

  1. What a great reminder of what contentment really is! It doesn't mean we always have to be happy with our circumstances, but we can be content that we are where God wants us at this present time. It's so easy to focus on circumstances and let them dictate how we feel rather than choosing to be content and trusting God to take care of us.

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    1. Exactly. I don't know why it took me 34 years to learn this. It's so easy for us to feel entitled to a certain kind of life and then realize that truly, all we have now or ever is a gift. A GIFT!

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  2. Gosh, how hard would it be for the complex to plant some trees along the south walls? And hardy climbing vines up the balconies. It's the perfect microclimate. And goose poo. Free fertilizer. Just add carbon.

    Jamie, it just dawned on me. You and the kids could grow a garden indoors in the winter- mushrooms! Fungi Perfecti (fungi.com) has some great indoor kits. There are many more kinds, flavors and uses than the mushy ones put on pizza. If it's something y'all would be interested in, you could start a fundraising project at Edible Playgardens. Anything that kids want to grow can be considered a playgarden project. And thanks for your gift!

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  3. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to check that out.

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  4. This is such a moving post. I needed to read this. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad it spoke to your heart. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. It's very encouraging!

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