Monday, June 05, 2006

The Best Things In Life?

My daughter goes to school in a fairly affluent area. Those on the Hill, up the street from my house have large homes, luxury cars. They go to Hawaii every summer, and cruises in the winter. Most are two-income homes. But not all of them. It is hard sometimes, to watch..

I just returned from a meeting about a school-related issue at one of the mom's houses. She lives in an old estate home from the twenties. It was show-house quality, complete with a grand piano in the living room. And many other homes in the area are the same. While I love these women indeed, the woman who owns the house I just returned from is the sweetest, most giving person you would ever meet...there is no way you could be jealous of her. She is wonderful., it is a little hard to hobnob with them, then return to my small fifties ranch-style house..

My son and youngest daughter share a bedroom, an arrangement that I don't love. Our house is just 3 bedrooms, which worked when I was still pregnant with #3. We really needed 4 bedrooms. But with time of the essence when we bought our home, and two homes that fell out of escrow (due to no fault of ours) we had to find something. The home we lived in was being sold. We had the opportunity to buy it, but decided to look and see what else we could find, since it was a great house to rent, but had a few things that bothered us when we considered buying it..We ended up in the city we now live in, which I absolutely love. I would just like to have more space..

It was our intention to buy a smaller home, and trade up in a couple of years. Then the market solidified, housing prices skyrocketed, and we were priced out of the areas in our city we had considered. Of course, the upside of this was that our house appreciated very quickly. It's now worth almost 3 times what we paid. But we are only 5 years into a 30 year mortgage, so we don't have that much money to play with at this point. And we are lucky we bought when we did. Only in Orange County and maybe a couple of other places in the country Silicon Valley, CA, suburbs of D.C., New York City, some parts of Connecticut would my husband's salary not be enough. He makes a good living. In the Midwest, with that salary, we could live luxuriously. But not in Orange County. Only here could we be low middle class..

In any case, I try very hard not to covet. I really do. We are very fortunate. We have what we need. Cars that run, and mine is only 4 years old, we bought it new. I drive a Kia Sedona, which I love...but a Honda Oddysey would have been nice..I couldn't justify the expense, I wanted the kids to be comfortable eating in the van, and I would have been a basketcase with an Odyssey. A nice house over our heads. My husband has a job with mostly flexible hours and a good salary: it allows me to stay home. So, I can't complain. And yet..

I do have a couple of friends who have houses similar to mine. I have enough. It's just, when compared to the women in the neighborhood up the street where my daughter goes to school... put it this way. The railroad tracks are literally between us and them. I literally live "on the other side of the tracks." It's a nice neighborhood. The homes are smaller, the yards less elaborate than on the Hill, but there is nothing that I need be ashamed of. And yet..

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.."

The Apostle Paul said that. And he would know. He started out as religious man, persecuting Chrstians. Until God struck him with blindness along the road to Damascus. And he converted to Christianity, sacrificing everything with zeal for the Lord. He was shipwrecked. He was in jail. There were times he was received with great acclaim, and had plenty to eat and places to stay. There were times when he had little to fill his belly and nowhere to lie his head. I know I need to take a cue from him. I know I need to be less materialistic and be happy in my circumstance. We truly have everything we need.. and much more.

I wonder sometimes, what I am saying to God by my discontent. "What you are providing just isn't enough?" "I refuse to trust you for my every day needs?" And I wonder, if had a steady supply of money, would it get in the way of my relationship with God? We aren't poor, but I cannot spend wantonly. Would not having to check the balance on my accounts change my trust level with God? I am sure there are some wonderful Christians out there who are wealthy. I am just not sure I could have the same level of committment with God if I had a lot of money. Suppose He already knows that?

These feelings don't come very often. I am ashamed. I know that many in this country have less. Most in the world have much less! I know that I am very lucky to be home with my kids, giving them the best gift I can give them. I know having me present in a modest home is better for them than any large home I could give them, with my salary added to my husband's income, but me subtracted from our home due to work obligations. It is a decision we have made, and yes we sacrifice some things because of it. I know all that. And yet..

Just for now, just for this moment, I think I will sit here and feel sorry for myself. Just for now, I will think "what if..." And just for now I will allow myself to feel sorrowful about life's circumstances. But then, I will go and hold my children, and remember what is really important.

Perhaps we will take a trip to the Arboretum to watch the turtles. And in their delight I will find riches that can never compare to those houses, or cars or expensive clothes. I will true heart, and not the trappings of some life that Madison Avenue has conditioned me to lust for. I will watch my children in their joy and bask in their childishness. And I will remember what my life really means.

T, who sometimes just needs a bit of a reminder now and again

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6 sent chocolate:

Bar Bar A said...

Hey TLC, this was a great post, very transparent and honest. I always appreciate it when people open up because so many of us are nodding our heads thinking "yep, I can relate to that"

I live in OC too and I know what you mean!!! My son would have friends that lived in houses like the one you visited today and I would be so worried what they would think of me (a single mom renting rooms from her mother). My parents paid $40,000 for this house in 1969 and now the selling price is $600,000. ONLY in OC!! Its crazy.

Cheryl said...

Blossom where you're planted!

(And of course you know what it takes to bring on the best roses.....)


Wystful1 said...

Personally, I know how you feel.....but! I wouldn't worry about how the "others" live! Take their friendship for what it's worth...if they like you for WHO you are, then all the better!!!

You sound like a woman with a good head on your shoulders!!!

I admire that.

Glamorous Redneck said...

Oh my gosh. I NEEDED to read this today. I just got back from a friend's new house and one of my very good friends just got my favorite car as an anniversary present. So I am right where you are, and needed to hear that little piece of scripture. Off to go read more now. Thank you, kind landlady! :)

Barbie said...

Oh wow you so just wrote out my circumstances are different but this is something that I am struggling with right now. I am going to be a single Mom of 3 moving 1200 miles from everything I have ever known with little more than the kids stuff and the clothes on my back. I just keep repeating this verse “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

TLC said...

bar bar A: thanks! I strive to be real. Funny you mention "transparency," because that is my word. I want to be as open and transparent as I can...I think it can help others.

Cheryl: my roses must be really something, then. Seems like sometimes I am just swimming in that stuff.

Wystful: interestingly enough, I like all of these women from my daughter's school, but they aren't friends. Once my daughter isn't in school anymore, I am certain they won't have time for me. And I am ok with that.

Glamorous Redneck: It is so HARD when someone gets something you really, really want. A friend just got a Prius and it was basically given to her! Amazing. I have that scripture memorized and posted in conspicuous places in my house. What is it about us that we want so much what we don't have?

Barbie: That sounds like a big change. I wish you luck.

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