One of our family values is inspired by Craig Groeschel and Dave Ramsey: “Live like no body now so you can live like no body later”. (When my mom came to visit after we had posted the values in our kitchen, she was particularly disturbed by this value and she said so. But it wasn’t until the day she was leaving that I understood why. She called me aside and said, “I’m really not comfortable with you aspiring to live like a nobody!!!” Oh Mother, reading is fundamental! 🙂 )
Anyway, the value means that we will make difficult, sacrificial, Kingdom-minded decisions now so that we don’t live in our old age worried about how the bills will get paid, in poor health, and stressed about how the children will turn out.
But recently I’ve been having a hard time remembering why this value is important to me.
I’ve been wanting a house. Well, sort of. I’m not ready to deal with the issues I happily call my landlord to deal with now, I’m not ready for PMI, and I’m not ready for being tied down to one location right now. I’m really not ready to pay the exorbitant prices they want for places out here. But still I find myself driving wistfully past neat little subdivisions with their large brick facades, tree-lined curbs, and sprawling backyards.
I’ve been wanting a brand new car. Actually, not really. I’m not ready to own another depreciating “asset”, I’m not ready to pay a car note. But as I swing my squeaky sedan into the commuter lot and park next to that gleaming red Acura with the tan leather interior, I look with a little yearning at that shiny car. For a minute.
In all honesty, I love writing my rent check each month knowing I have a really good deal. We “downgraded” when we left our ultra modern high-rise apartment in the middle of a hip city center for a townhouse in the boonies, but I pay less here, have more space and don’t have to deal with the logistics of lugging my groceries up to the 5th floor. I love my rickety used car– we paid less than $2,500 for it four years ago and it’s our little engine that could. We’ve put probably less than $1000 into it since we bought it– I’m really good with that!
So what’s going on with me? I’m not really sure… I’ve had to remind myself a lot lately of something else that we’ve embraced since deciding to make this a value– “I don’t deserve to have things I have not worked for”. (Now, I am not discounting the grace of God that does actually give me many good things that I have not worked for, and do not actually deserve). What I mean here is that my parents worked for years and years to afford a home as nice as the one I live in now. They spent years saving up and trading up gradually to get to the caliber of car and house that I now find myself wanting. But I want it all now.
If I examine my discontent now, I realize that at the bottom of it all I don’t just want to have a starter house– I want that final house– the one in that perfect location, with the exact number of rooms I’ll ever need, and the kitchen that will accommodate making every recipe I’ll ever learn in my life. I want that 2014 car with all the trappings. So in reality my problem is not so much one with the this-not-that choices I’ve made… it’s the grabbing/wanting/greed that wants more than I can afford, and more than I deserve.
In the end I find that I really am happy with the major life decisions that we have made in an effort to make our tomorrows better. In truth, I do not feel deprived at all. And on days when I look around with a mild bitterness and feel like others have indulgences I have refused to give myself, I log into Mint, and look at the tally of our growing total net assets… and smile inside.