I have been pondering the difference between rich and poor often this month. It stems from a realization of my own wealth. I grew up quite poor most of my years, and developed quite a disdain for “the wealthy.” So this epiphany from Sunday school that I am, in fact, Richly blessed is seriously disconcerting to me.
We’ve all heard it before, we are richly blessed by our loving Father in Heaven. But what does that truly mean to us. Well to me, until last week’s lesson, it meant blessed with intangibles; strength, determination, hope, etc. But today, I see it differently. I live in a weather-resistant home, with a car, a cellphone, and a computer with internet; my family eats 3 meals a day, or more! We have, what they jokingly call, #firstworldproblems.
Lightbulb! Hey kids, guess what?! I’m richer than 90% of the Earth’s current inhabitants! Not to mention those who have gone before. And, I’m willing to bet that since you have the tools and knowledge to read this, so are you!
Did you let that sink in? You are Rich, too.
So how am I coping with this astounding revelation of God’s Love? To be honest, not well. I’m usually wavering around awed humility, but this morning I realized I was angry about it.
I actually wanted to be poor again. This scripture didn’t help: James 1:9-10 “Let the brother of low degree (poor) rejoice in that he is exalted; but the rich, in that he is made low…” So this has been going ’round in my head. “I don’t want to be rich, I don’t want to be made low. I am low, I’m struggling to pay the bills just like everyone else.”
But here’s the thing, we are struggling to pay the bills for our luxuries. We are not fighting for our very survival.
—Disclaimer: I’m about to get painfully graphic here.—
We are not watching our infants starve to death before us. We are not forced to sell our daughters into sex slavery to pay the bribe money to keep farming land we have held for generations. We are not buying moldy bread with the coins we receive by shoveling people’s fecal matter out of the street. We are not trying to shield our children from the destruction of our roof because a bomb just took half of it away. We are not being sent walking thousands of miles from camp to camp trying to find one that has an extra spot of mud to lie down in. We are not searching desperately for loved ones whom we lost while fleeing from war and tryanny. We are not living in the same puddle of mud for 5 years watching our children die of dysentery. We are not forced to smile for some old man while he tears apart the once innocent fabric of our insides.
You and I are Rich. And we need to come to terms with it, and decide what, in His name, we are going to do about it.
The first in my series on values, I’m tackling one of the most reviled, Submission!
This has been on my mind for a long while, and though I’ve tried writing about it many times, I’ve been too nervous to really start. That said, here I go!
First off, a little background; I was raised unchristian, by that I mean I learned to look to every source of wisdom and teaching EXCEPT to Christ. I was a heathen, a pagan, an atheist, an agnostic, a buddhist, a selfian, a humanist, and primarily of the school of “If It Feels Good, Do It!” Not surprisingly, I suffered from depression for more than a decade, with suicidal ideation at times. I felt lost and empty. I filled the hole in my heart (and soul) with cheap and meaningless relationships, and recreational chemicals. I hurt everyone around me, and was hurt by them. And I ended up married to a man who understood manipulation better than love. And through all of that, I abhorred the terms submission, obedience, repentance, prayer, etc. I grew to believe the words represented holding someone down, chaining them, forcing them – in general they meant slavery to me. The sad irony was that I was already a slave.
Yet through it all I was still seeking for Light and Truth. And one day I finally found it. Unlike many who turned to Christ after falling to their deepest low, I was starting to finally succeed. As a child, my family was transient and homeless at times. My parents divorced when I was 4, and their perfect American dreamed exploded in the fury. With it, their faith was shaken, especially my mom’s. Despite her lack of financial prowess, my mother placed a very high priority on education. She did everything in her power and more to send us to the best public schools in the city, sometimes causing us to drive 45 minutes every morning to get there. After receiving my High School diploma in what I believe to be the best public high school in Colorado (at the time, anyway), I was easily accepted into college. Five years and many part time jobs later (up to 4 at a time one summer), I had my Bachelor’s, and after a few years of struggling found a perfectly middle-class white collar job.
Finally, my life was starting to make sense. I had a husband, a baby, a new job, and was even renting a spacious 4-bedroom home in Highlands Ranch (suburb of Denver, the capital of Colorado). It was my success in my new suburban life that awoke me to the realization that something fundamental was missing…
I finally figured out that I really had looked everywhere else, and that I was avoiding turning to Him. As I learned more about the Gospel, the church, etc. I ran into these words that I had reviled against. I plan to devote a post or more to each one, but this one has been on my mind much in the past few days especially. Two of the triggers that stirred my thoughts on this topic are found atKristi Clover and at Women Living Well. The former article I read 2 years ago, and the latter just yesterday. In both articles the authors succinctly spell out the Bible’s teachings on the subject. But I wanted to add my more personal perspective as well on how this virtue has enhanced my life and deepened my daily peace.
It’s important to note that I define submission very differently than in my youth. As a feminist, I equated submission with slavery, willing or not. But now that I have an eternal perspective, I can see submission as a natural part of every healthy relationship. [Please understand this does NOT mean submission should be part of an unhealthy relationship, especially a manipulative or abusive one (I have experienced this, so I get it).] A student submits to his teacher if he is to learn anything. A child submits to his parents when being taught, especially regarding safety. A church-goer submits to his bishop’s INSPIRED guidance to draw closer to Christ. A disciple submits to Christ as the ultimate teacher, counselor, and King. And, the most controversial of all, a wife submits to her husband to strengthen their marriage.
I know that learning to control my nagging, controlling, over-worrying, and competition with my husband has strengthened our relationship deeply (I should mention that I am on my second marriage now; I and the husband I mentioned earlier failed to learn how to build a strong marriage). I have learned how to love my husband better by allowing the Lord to teach him, rather than trying to “fix” him myself. I take a deep breath and bite my tongue. I let him make mistakes and I try really hard not to say “I told you so.” In doing so, I show him more respect, and that respect is returned back to me. Submission to me means letting him be the man the Lord created. It means allowing him to strengthen his innate strengths as a husband, father, and provider by making the final decisions for our family. It means curbing my natural desire to pressure him, and instead providing my counsel and letting him make the final call. It means trusting his “gut,” and helping him by allowing him to do the same. I’ll admit, sometimes it doesn’t work out for the best, sometimes we’re driving around in circles adding 10 minutes to our delay. But that 10 minutes is WELL worth the moment that comes later, when he humbly says, “Thank you for not pushing me.” My husband and I draw closer through allowing each other to grow our own way. I humble myself and follow his guidance, and he humbles himself and tries to listen to me more.
We grow closer and create an eternal marriage. We trust each other and are at peace in our daily relationship. We lean on each other, strengthen each other, and support each other. I am content, at peace, and often joyful, even in the midst of extreme stress. That is worth all the individualism in the world.
Thank you for sitting through all of this post. I appreciate your time. Feel free to add your comments below, though understand that I will not approve any that are attacks on anyone. I would love to hear how you have grown through coming to peace with this Christlike virtue.