I am just about always looking for odd jobs. Projects to take on. Things I can do to help someone out. Because I understand at this juncture in my life, God has given me a vast diversity of skills and a great passion for some of the hands-on things and enough free time to share that. But then there's that awkward moment when the project is done and all the fire I've put into it is poured out...and I couldn't accept a dime.
This is why I am perpetually poor.
It's not that I don't need the money every now and then, and it's not even that there aren't some jobs I would require you to pay me for. Like painting the majority of your house in a 112-degree heat index, and even that one, I was tempted to give away (work for free). It's that I don't live by money. At least, I try not to.
It's tough because I run up against this world that is set on the dime and spins on the dollar, and there are absolutely places where money helps. And yet in that moment where there is money or there is more, I will always opt for more. I just can't make myself live by money; it grates against me.
That's also why when I find something worth selling, I'm more likely still to give it away. If I see the way it makes you smile, how your face lights up when you see it, how it touches something in your heart to hold it...then have it. Please. Take this as my gift to you.
There's a lot in this world that would say that is contrary, but I say its our norm that is contrary. I say it is contrary to use people and love money, and that we should strive to live a better way - to love people and use money. (Someone smarter than me has already coined this phrase, I'm fairly sure.) We've lost that somewhere. I'm convinced that if Jesus were to meet a woman at a well today and ask her for a drink, she'd put her hand on her hip and say, "What? You think I just work here?" and wait on Him to pay her. Our lives are all wrapped up in money - in mortgage payments, in gas prices, in grocery bills, in utility costs - and somewhere in all of that, our hearts get wrapped up, too. Whether we wittingly hand them over or not.
I'm sorry, but I can't live that way. When you start putting numbers to everything...you're never going to add up. Then what are you supposed to do? Spend your life chasing numbers?
There have been a lot of opportunities over the past few weeks for me to choose. To choose something I can tally up or to choose something more. It's really tempting to tally up. To think about what it might cost to get the materials. To think about how much gas I'm burning up. To think about how much I could sell that for to some unsuspecting stranger.
But so, too, is there a draw in the immeasurable. In the way a story is shared and you realize that more than a ride, he needed grace. In the way a smile is stolen and you see that someone needs known more than she needs helped. In the way a hug wraps a little tight and begs to be spoiled...just a little bit...because it's tough out there alone. In seconds and minutes and hours that tick off the clock and are never counted and never missed and never wasted because each moment was something, even if you can never define what it was. In weary eyes that look back at you, spent, looking for a moment that isn't going to cost them any more because they don't have it to give.
So, too, is there a draw in simple love. Grace. Love, which can never be counted but is that which we should count on to carry us through. Love, the greatest gift for those who are spent because it doesn't cost a thing. Love is free. And that's how it should be.
Yes, I'm perpetually poor but my life is very rich because I make a policy, if you could call it such formal things, of never making money for love. (And never making love for money, which is another thing entirely.) Because there's not one number that gets me any closer to anything I truly need or even want...and I would never give up this moment that counts just for a chance to count it.