Saturday, November 8, 2008

How to Get Rich

I used to have this little checklist in my head when I was growing up of what I thought made a person "rich." It's a little funny to remember it now because I realize how silly it is. Of course I didn't know a thing about anybody's real financial state: whether or not they actually had tons of money hidden in a secret safe, were in debt up to their eyeballs, or had inherited a fortune from a relative. My list was pretty shallow and now seems very materialistic, but what can I say? I was a kid.

Here are the criteria I remember:

1. If a family's house had more than one story, they must be rich. Why I thought the existence of stairs in a house meant tons o' money is beyond me, but somehow it made sense back then.

2. If a family had a built-in swimming pool, they just had to be rich. My sister and I used to beg our mom all summer long to take us to the public pool in a neighboring town. I remember it was usually so crowded that we'd just claim a spot along the wall and hang out there all day. There was very little swimming involved. To me it seemed like having your own pool would be the ultimate in luxury.

3. If one of my peers wore designer clothes, their parents were most certainly rich. I have blogged before about how we didn't have very much when I was growing up. I was very grateful for what we did have but I was just sure I might be cooler or have more friends if I had the right clothes.

There was a short list of people I knew who actually had all three! It practically blew my mind. I just knew that they slept on mattresses stuffed with cash and used dollar bills as toilet paper.

Seriously though, I don't want it to sound like my childhood days were spent dreaming about fancy clothes and swimming pools and houses with stairs. They really weren't. But isn't it silly how we think this way? Sometimes I think I still do it in my adult life. I look at families today who have children and I think, wow they sure do have everything. In reality I know that every family has struggles. We don't usually know what secret hurt someone else is dealing with, or what thing they are longing to have. I'm not talking anymore about jealousy or covetousness as much as sheer longing for the desires of your heart.

Lately I'm not happy with my lack of contentment. There are many areas in my life today where I do feel very "rich." I still don't have a multilevel home, a pool, or designer clothes. I no longer care a single bit about those things! I'm rich in other ways that aren't necessarily tangible. Those are the facts, yet I'm still longing. Can longing and contentment go hand in hand? Where do we get contentment? I know the answer but I'm still trying to get a firm grasp on it in my own life. I'm humbled by the Apostle Paul's words about contentment in the midst of circumstances far worse than any I could imagine (Philippians 4:11-13, printed below). I know he achieved that not on his own but because of Christ's strength within him. Despite his situation, I can look at Paul and recognize that he was indeed a very rich man.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.


Connie said...

Wow! You have no idea how much I get out of your posts. What a blessing you are to me! I am the richest of all for having you in my life! XOXO

Jesus, My Best Friend said...

so true!

Sunny said...

I love that scripture. Words to aspire to...

Galatians 2:20 said...

Great post such a blessing! I was just praying for contentment. I understand that tension of a hearts longing yet also being content. Very true about only by Jesus power can we be content in any situation.

Andi said...

Oh, Stace - fantastic post! First, I have to say, when I was a kid, I thought if someone lived in a brick house, they must be rich. (Of course, I grew up in a trailer, so it's all relative). On a more serious note, I've been thinking about and talking with my friends about contentment a lot lately, as I've lost my a bit recently as well. (I love the entire chapter of Phil. 4). My prayer lately has been, "God, help me to be contentment without being complacent." I think it's an important but tricky balance.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post Stacey. My IF journey became far easier to cope with when I made peace with it and sort to find joy in my life in spite of what I yearned for.

Stacey said...

Thanks for all of these wonderful comments.

My husband has reminded me that I forgot a couple of things I thought only "rich" people had: cable TV and an Atari.


Beth said...

My cousins had an Atari and cable and they were the richest people I knew in my young life!! :)

Thanks for this post. Sometimes I can't even figure out why I'm discontent...Jesus SHOULD be all I need, but many times I don't feel like that's the case even though I know it in my head. But I try to remind myself that I won't be truly complete until I get to heaven, so maybe not being content sometimes is ok. Maybe I'm just sick of fighting today and longing for my eternal home.

Although sometimes it really is because I lose sight of what God's done for me and get too busy throwing myself pity parties.

I'll stop arguing with myself now...

Chuck said...

Yeah, I thought that only rich people had Ataris until we got one. But by the time we got one, the Nintendo was almost out.

Going without certain things has been a blessing. I started off driving the old family car that was older than I was. So when I got my own car, I thanked God for it nearly ever time I got in it. (Even though I can look back and see that it wasn't a very nice car.)

For the first 4 years of our marriage we didn't have a place of our own. Now I am so glad to have my own house that I never complain anymore about having to mow the yard.

Teresa said...

That touched me. You rock! Thanks for that post Stacey. I thought people were rich if they had highlights in their hair. Weird I know.

katdish said...

When I was in high school, I thought that the kids who drove corvettes, monster trucks and tricked out trans-ams were rich...

Oh, wait. They WERE rich! But for the most part, they were also the same ones you would find every Friday night sitting in a parking lot somewhere with their friends and fancy cars with nothing better to do than getting drunk and causing trouble. A few of them ended up in prison.

Money is not the root of all kinds of evil. The love of money is.

Sunny said...

You are on my mind tonight and I just wanted you to know that I thought of you!

TRS said...

Great post! I know what you mean.

I grew up in a ranch style house and longed for an Upstairs. A staircase would have completed SO many of my personal and imagined dramas!

Funny, kids at school accused my family of being rich (it was an insult back then) probably because there were only three kids in my family as opposed to the 5-9 kids in my classmates' families (Catholic School - what can I say?)

The fact that I didn't wear many handmedowns made us rich. (Sis was 8 years older - and my mom had pride in dressing us nicely - out of style clothes wouldn't have gone over well with her!)
Though we never had 'designer' clothes we always had nice clothes. If our jeans were faded mom replaced them.

your comment about houses hit me too... because a few years ago my niece was telling me about her friend and said, "They live in a poor house."
What's a poor house? I asked.
She was talking about a trailer house. Oops. I had to think of way to explain that wasn't what they are called!

Anyway - thanks for letting me take up a bunch of space here! Just stopping by after noticing your sweet comment on my blog today!