Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On Money

It's something I've mentioned in the context of love.  In the context of grace.  And yesterday in the context of work.  So maybe it's time I just tell you what I really think about money.

I don't live by money; I've said that before.  The truth really is that money doesn't have anything I want.

I'm making some money with this contractor's work.  Nothing to live off of, as you might say, but enough to check a couple of boxes of the "one day" list.  Some things I've been looking at, needing to get on top of, waiting for the funds to take care of.  You know - those few things here and there that our dead presidents can assist me in acquiring.  Dental care, for one.  I try to maintain a regular dental cleaning schedule.  New glasses.  Mine are three years old and the left lens keeps popping in and out.  

And you're maybe thinking "Oh!  BIG things."  Not really.  Tedious things.  Things that I sort of earmarked my paychecks for, wrapped the cash in a separate fund and set aside so that I would actually take care of these few items.  I was more than halfway into my goal amount, with the glasses paid for and well into the dental bill (the glasses I've been looking at for three years are on sale this month!).  Nothing purchased; simply set aside.

Then things changed.  Something popped up less thrilling even than dentistry that needed that money and a little more.  And not even something of mine.  Someone else needed that money for something they were doing and falling temporarily a little short on.  So now, it is theirs, and the next paycheck will be, too, to cover the cost.  After that, I'll start back at zero for my dentist and glasses fund.

I know.  You're thinking, "just like that?"  Yup.  Just like that.  Because money doesn't run my life, even though it tries to get me some nights if I lie awake too long thinking about it.  The truth is, though, when situations like these happen, you have to decide what's important.  And in all my life, I've never decided that money was more important than anything else.  Never.  It just does nothing for me.

And while sometimes, it's not the easiest decision to make (those on-sale glasses in just the right color and shape will go back to regular price before I can afford them again and I might be working on a small cavity?) the right thing to do is the easiest decision to live with.  I haven't had a second thought about it.

The person to whom my money is now going offered a trade.  This person offered to pay for whatever material purchases I had planned on making because I guess those are charged differently to a credit card than how this money is working.  I don't want to get into all of the details because it's not my situation to be talking about and that's not what this story is anyway, but it's the difference between a cash advance to pay off a something and actually just racking up new charges.  But I don't work money that way, either.

I will not take money for love.  And I will not take money for money.  I just think there's more to life than equity....and that something has got to be grace.  I try to make it so.

And I'm kind of a bit of a proud person when it comes to money, too.  In the sense that I like to earn what I get in life.  I like to pay my own way.  As best I can, I do so.  When I need a little money to hedge the funds, I find a little work to make it.  I'm not "above" making my own money, paying my own bills.  I've worked hard to keep my financials steady throughout my life, and it is because I use money but don't live by it.  I put it to work for me; I don't work for it.

God has been gracious to me even in this, and I find that even when it seems I have little, I always have enough.  More than enough, to be honest.  I faithfully give Him a tenth of whatever I come into - a paycheck, money from the ATM, cash tucked into a birthday card and He faithfully gives me back more.  Not necessarily money to be counted, but there always seems to be enough of that, too.  And when necessary or applicable, I give it away like grace.  (although the money is cheaper; grace can be hard!)

I don't say all this to impress you with my attitude.  And I won't pretend I always pull this off seamlessly.  It's tough sometimes in a world that runs on money to remember that money really doesn't honor the world.  But I say this to you to invite you to think about your own life, about what it might be (it might be money; it might not be) that you live by.  Or don't live by.  And how that decision enhances or diminishes your capacity for greater things. 

For me, I draw the line at money and refuse to let it stand in the way of grace.  Where do you draw your line?

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