Even Though We Ain't Got Money ¦
I took a vow of poverty two years ago: I became a stay-at-home mom.
I didn't plan it that way. Sure, plenty of my friends longed for days filled with parks, peanut butter sandwiches and play dates. Secretly, I wondered what was so wrong with cubicles and adult conversation. I liked my job. But more than that, I was convinced we needed it.
When we first toyed with the idea of parenthood, we made a budget based on one income. Then we attempted to live off of it. (If you've ever tried this, you're laughing now). After failing miserably, we revised it, and re-revised it. But it never worked out on paper.
So logic would prevail. I would keep my job. We'd find daycare.
Don't misunderstand: I know many moms work outside the home for good reasons. Some are the sole supporters of their families. For some, there's no other choice. I, however, lacked such noble motivations. I just enjoyed our comfortable lifestyle. We visited Starbucks several times a week. We regularly went out to dinner and the movies. We even took some exotic vacations. I could buy new jacket on a whim or get the full-service car wash. I never had to wonder, "Is there enough in the bank for this?"
Maybe I even pitied my mom-to-be friends a little, knowing how they'd struggle financially once they quit their jobs. If they just thought it through, they'd realize you can't live on love.
That phrase live on love kept bringing to mind a song they played on the radio when I was a kid. I scoffed at its utter lack of common sense.
People smile and tell me I'm the lucky one
We've just begun
Think I'm gonna have a son;
He will be like him and me,
Free as a dove,
Conceived in love
The sun is gonna shine above.
And even though we ain't got money
I'm so in love with you honey
Everything will bring a chain of love.
I mean, can't you just picture the people in this song? He, scruffy-bearded in bell-bottoms. She, barefoot, in a muumuu with a ring of daisies crowning her flowing hair. They probably drove a beat-up VW bus. They grew a garden of organic veggies and ¦um ¦other things. But let's face it: even all those poor, idealistic hippies wised up and became business people, right? They now own $500,000 homes and meet for power lunches at the country club. They'll tell you what pays the bills ¦and love ain't it.
Some of my friends had another name for killing their careers. They called it "stepping out in faith." One mentioned Jesus' disciples laying down their nets to follow him. Yeah, I thought but those nets supported their families! Those nets ensured they could put food on the table. Dropping them without knowing what lay ahead? The disciples must have felt that same tightening in their stomachs I did at the thought of it. After all, it seems absurd downright irresponsible, really to give up your security to skip off on a little adventure with Jesus. Who knew where that would take them? With Christ, the followers didn't know where dinner would come from. But back at the lake, the fish were biting.
So we would stick with Plan A, thank you very much.
Ah ¦but it's so easy to make sweeping proclamations until you look in your baby's eyes. The first time I held her, her perfect beauty and utter helplessness took my breath away. When she took her first step, I wanted to catch her. When she cried, I wanted to wipe the tears. I was her mommy, and I could care for her like no one else. Suddenly logic evaporated into a sticky, syrupy pile of love, and I knew she needed me more than I needed stuff.
Fast forward a few years. I've traded in my heels and pantyhose for mommy clothes. Now my days are packed with inquisitive conversations and my nights with hugs and kisses, stories and bath times. Tonight, my tired toddler whispered, "Mommy, why did God make Cheerios?" before falling asleep on my arm.
I have to laugh at myself, looking back on my dogmatic decisions. Did Starbucks ever jumpstart me like a morning snuggle with my princess? Do we really mind missing the summer's blockbuster films when we have our own live, interactive entertainment? Was vacation ever as enjoyable as watching her tear around the living room with fake pearls, a play cell phone, and a stroller overflowing with babies?
Don't be surprised to see my car parked in front of Goodwill these days. I get some of my best clothes there! We clip coupons, watch movies on our 27-inch "home theater," and sometimes split meals when we eat out. We fix our vacuum cleaner over and over again, it seems rather than replacing it. Are we ever a little concerned about our finances? Sure. But would I trade it? No way. Not for anything.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the many unexpected gifts that have come our way since my career change. Somehow, whatever money we needed always showed up. Maybe it was a long-forgotten rebate check or an offer of freelance work. Once, a church member slipped three twenties into my pocket, whispering, "The Lord told me to give you this." I believe God's faithfulness in our finances is further proof that, career-wise, I'm right where he wants me.
Jesus said in John 15:13 that there is no greater love than laying down our lives. I used to think that meant being willing to die for someone else. Now I also think it includes something else that's at least as difficult: living for someone else. Putting our desires second.
But out of that sacrifice, the greatest possible love is born. I think Jesus was saying, in essence, "When you learn to put others ahead of yourself, and when you give up worldly security and comfort to trust in my providence, everything will bring a chain of love."
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