I’m rich in many things, grateful beyond measure for my friends, family, a warm, safe place to live, the gift of a relationship with God, work that matters to me and sometimes helps others, opportunities to serve, and the privilege of a wonderful education. However, I am not one of the 1% who control so much of the world’s wealth.
I am very mindful that I have more wealth than the majority of the global population. As a speaker told us years ago, “If you wake up in the morning, and have a choice of what to wear you are richer than most of the world.”
I do fall prey to wishing I had more money. So that I could buy the top of the line model of my preferred car, and have it be a new car, rather than a sensible new-to-me with a few miles on it basic model. Heated seats would be so nice. When travel does not carry a viral risk, it would be nice to travel wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, in first class, and to tip $50 per night to the housekeeping staff when I stay in a hotel or motel. While on my adventure, I would collect original art for my walls rather than postcards of the art that I then frame for my walls. Jewelry! My own island! Rumor has it that with enough money I could get some politicians to vote the way I want, but that’s just a rumor. Sadly, I would also pay a smaller percentage of my income in taxes if I had more money, which is bizarre, but there it is.
The upside of having a sufficient but not tremendous income is that I get to prioritize what matters to me, because I can’t have everything. Where my money goes shows what matters to me. By disciplining my spending habits, I grow spiritually as I am forced to choose where my money will be put to work. Since I can’t afford everything I want, I practice self-control which then carries over into the rest of my life.
There was a time in graduate school when I had four part-time jobs along with doing my coursework so that I could pay tuition and rent, and buy groceries. There was another time, when I was in transition between jobs, when I would get teary and super-stressed when yet another bill arrived in the mail because I knew I couldn’t pay it. Having had those times of monetary shortage, I empathize with those who are broke, who have more month than money. Because I can relate to their stress, it’s important to me to give to organizations that help unless there’s a way I can help directly. This empathy is another upside to not being super rich.
There are those who are millionaires, billionaires even, who give away millions, create foundations, and use their wealth to pay forward the benefits they have received. One recent example is Dolly Parton who donated a million dollars to help fund research on a Covid-19 vaccine. Great wealth brings great responsibility. I have some money, so I have some responsibility to help others.
I use my money to pay for reasonably priced cat food, and to splurge on high-quality treat. I use my money to vote for bar soap as a much less expensive and more environmentally friendly alternative to shower gel. I think expensive shampoo from my salon is a good value. I do not shop at Hobby Lobby because I want my money to support stores that align with my values. Yes, to generic white vinegar but definitely name-brand tooth paste. Nordstrom’s and the various Dollar stores, my money spends the same at both.
I cannot buy everything I want, nor can I buy anyone’s affection. I’m limited. and within those limits, I find the freedom to focus on what matters to me.
It’s like good jazz music. The musician is limited to certain notes and chords by the chosen key, but within those limits fabulous music flies free.
The subject of money has come to mind as I am about to mail a consignment of items I no longer need or want to an online auction, so that in return I will have more money for what I do want and need. I hope that you too find freedom and peace as you manage your resources. Also tomorrow, December 1st, is Giving Tuesday; if you’re able, please consider choosing a cause or two to support with a gift.
Today’s Prayer Poem: Litany by Langston Hughes
Gather up In the arms of your pity The sick, the depraved, The desperate, the tired, All the scum Of our weary city Gather up In the arms of your pity. Gather up In the arms of your love -- Those who expect No love from above. Grace and peace, Caroline