Poverty and Plenty
copyright 2005, Lani Wiens
a fresh flowers original
I noticed a profound difference between my daughter and myself the other day. One I can’t say I’m terribly proud of. I could blame it on being Mennonite. I could blame it on my parents or something else if I really tried but when it comes right down to it it’s my own grid of thought that has done me in. I and none other is to blame.
My little girl got a groovy little gift from her grandmother for her birthday. It was a decorative box that held all sorts of little treasures; stickers, glitter, sparkly glue, markers, a bunch of little posters to colour and the box itself was made of little fuzzy posters on each side that she could fill in. What fun for a five year old! She immediately started working on it, gleefully colouring, stickering and glittering everything up.
When a friend or her cousins showed up she encouraged them to colour, sticker and glue with all her stuff. She was thrilled to be sharing her treasure and was quite happy to give away the things that had been created to her equally thrilled playmates.
As I watched her use up all the little vials of glitter and glue my own heart had a pang. I wanted to tell her not to use it all up, to save some, to be a bit more cautious. Then a little voice in my heart asked, “Why? Why should she hold back, she has no reason not to believe there will be more glue and glitter and stickers in her life? She is enjoying her treasure and sharing it with those around her, let her be.” I felt thoroughly chastised. When I told my husband about it he made my chastisement even more clear. “You, my dear, are still holding on to a poverty mentality."
Oh dear. I thought I was done with that but obviously not. While it’s true that the last number of years have had us counting every penny and being very careful with what we have I thought I was conquering that thing. Apparently I still have a ways to go on this one. I like to hoard, stash, eek things out to make them last as long as possible. Not that this is always a bad thing. I remember road trips with my family, I could make a bottle of pop and a bag of chips last longer than anyone else. Of course I’d have to fight off the scavengers who ate theirs in a matter of minutes, but I could hold my ground.
How do I live frugally, being a good steward and not give into the mentality that continually tells me, “there isn’t enough?” To be perfectly honest, it is something I still struggle with. I am glad that I have many ‘stones of remembrance’ to look back on. There are many places that I can point to and show my children how God faithfully took care of us when we couldn’t take care of ourselves. Our faith seems to be put to the test in this area quite often. One day I’ll be free of that nasty little voice. Until then I’ll sing with the psalmist, “I lift my eyes up, unto the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from you, maker of heaven, creator of the earth.”
I hope today you’ll live in the glorious treasure that God has given you, not holding back but living and giving freely with a full expectation that there is more to come. I hope that’s where you’ll find me.