Friday, October 19, 2012

Enough

Teaching children about money can be challenging, but one thing that I think is neglected is whether or not we are teaching our children the true meaning of having enough. I think we neglect it, because we adults have a rather warped sense of what enough looks like ourselves. I know I do. This was brought home to me once again yesterday when the children and I spent two hours cleaning up the 3rd floor playroom. Again.

While there are people in the country who do not have enough food, who do not have a home to live in (home meaning shelter, not a house), who do lack for basic necessities, the vast majority of us do have these things. Not only do we have them, we live in outrageous abundance. And yet how often have we felt sorry for ourselves about what we don't have? (Yes, I'm including myself in there.)

And like the mother looking in the mirror complaining she is fat while her young daughter looks on, what are we teaching our children every time we focus on what we do not have instead of what we do? How can our children hope to learn the difference between actual needs and wants if their parents have the same difficulty? Because the truth is, we do have enough.

Why is it so difficult to appreciate enough? One reason is that I think we tend to focus on the future instead of focusing on the present. I know I do. A lot. I may be well fed right now, with the heat on so I'm warm, in clothes that are clean and my children in the same condition, but I can find myself worrying about the future. What if something happens and we don't have this in the future? What will we do? Even after years of realizing that very few of my worries ever come true, I still do it. And what does it get me? Nothing except a lack of peace or the ability to enjoy the enough in the present.

And the present is exactly where God wants us to be. Remember the Israelites in the desert? God gave them manna each morning which they were to gather and use for that day's food. They were to take no more than what they could use in one day, if they did, it would go bad before they could use it. The only exception was on the day before the Sabbath where they were to take two day's worth of food. The Israelites were to focus on God's provision for them at that moment and trust that He would take care of them in the future. I don't think God has changed in either His provision or His expectations. We are to appreciate what we have today and not worry about His provision for tomorrow. Jesus tells us, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matt. 6:34 ESV)

This does not mean we are not to be responsible stewards with what we have. We are not to waste things or spend money frivolously, but instead we are to use our resources wisely. Wisely, I believe, means that we will have enough to share with others... our of our abundance. But until we start to see that we do indeed have enough, we will not think of ourselves as living in abundance.

And isn't this the real lesson we want our children to learn about money? That everything we have is a gift from God, that He has given us blessings in abundance, and that out of our abundance we have the opportunity to bless others. But this emphasis on abundance will be difficult to maintain in the face of modern advertising. Advertising's aim is to create a sense of need, of lack, of missing out, and children are particularly susceptible to its messages. Even for those of us who try to limit advertising in our homes, it is impossible to avoid. As well as focusing on what we do have, we also try to expose the underlying messages of advertising when we come across it. (I'm still planning on doing an advertising unit, where we look at the different techniques and the real messages that are being sent.)

As in most things, what the children actually learn is what they see their parents doing. If they see parents who are thankful, who are generous, who don't spend a lot of time moaning about what they don't have, the more likely it is that those children will embrace those same values.

(And an update about that medical bill that I was worried concerned about. After a long phone call, it turns out that the tests were not the ones that I had thought they were. The bills that the supplemental insurance didn't cover were never meant to be sent to them in the first place. They were bills for blood titers that H. had done right after coming home to check for immunity. The insurance had declined to pay them initially, though they would have happily and without bother paid to have H. completely re-immunized. Crazy. And so we were contesting it and those charges were on hold until we finished appealing to the insurance. The ultimate resolution was that the insurance finally paid for the titers... though they never notified us of that fact. So, it was with great relief that both the real and imaginary bills were paid. Next on the list: how to pay for the major car repair we had done this week. Back to deep breathing.)
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Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.

But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.



This is Penny. She is 12 years old and has had her file sent back not once, but twice. Two times not one family said that she was worth being adopted. Can you imagine? Look at those eyes! And imagine that curly hair grown out and in adorable pigtails! The reports say that she still smiles, even after the years of abuse and neglect that she has endured. Please, can't just one family give her something to really smile about? Can one family share their abundance with this child?

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