A good friend of mine, who also happens to be starting a crazy adventure of moving to a state they've never lived in with no jobs lined up (you can read her blog here), put this as her facebook status yesterday:
Only 78 degrees today, went for a run in a little Vegas rain. I like to think that there is a lesson to be learned in every experience. Today's lesson: Don't run past a dog poop recepticle with your mouth open!
First, don't you already love her sense of humor? But more importantly, don't you love the attitude of learning from everything that happens? I've actually spent the last few months trying to discern what it is I'm supposed to learn from our current situation- that situation being that my hubby is looking for a job and not finding one and our only income has been from my writing and social media projects.
We still have a little in savings and yes, a small income, but things are...tight. Really, really tight. Paying for groceries with a credit card tight. 'Cause even when you have no mortgage (thank God for that!) you still have property taxes and homeowners insurance and car insurance and student loans and gasoline and the electric bill and the propane to heat your house and the phone bill and the internet that you have to have so you can keep working. And sometimes your kids just grow out of their clothes and even though you buy their "new" stuff at Goodwill, it's still not free. So there it is. Things are tight.
Until last night I thought maybe I needed to learn to be more grateful for what we do have. Or I needed to find ways to be even more frugal. Or I needed to worry less and trust in God more. And I probably do need to do all of those things. But you know what has just struck me, like a heavenly smack across my selfish face? I've never been as generous as I could be. Not even nearly.
Now that we have no money to spare, I realize that we could have given a lot more in charity in the days of steady employment and private health insurance. We could have easily had more children. We could have donated more food to food banks and more money to families in real need. Back when we had money and a house with no holes in the ceilings. But instead we went to Starbucks. And I paid someone to cut my hair. And I had a subscription to Lucky magazine. Seriously? Paying for a magazine subscription? I kinda want to whack myself upside the head.
Being truly poor is teaching me to be humble. That my family is sometimes going to look poor and that I can't be ashamed of that. That I need to accept the gracious help of others because they want to be generous and even if it does indicate weakness on my part (which it doesn't, I know), that I need to suck it up. That I will run out of and wear out things that I still have from the old days (like concealer and cute sandals) and I won't be able to justify buying more. And then I will really have to let go of the idea of looking a certain way. Being poor is helping me battle my vanity.
And just because some piece of furniture is old or ugly or mostly broken, it doesn't need to be replaced. And even though plastic over the windows to cut down on heating bills isn't beautiful, it'll just have to do.
If things ever turn around, when they turn around, I can't forget that we don't need much to survive. So many others in the world can, and should, benefit from our time, talent, and treasures. Right now I only have the first two to offer, but someday if I have the third again, I can't forget the things I'm learning now.