Friday, September 18, 2009

Life Lessons

Wanting Better

I don't know how it started. Maybe it was with the Baby Boomers, maybe it's my fellow Gen X-ers that are to blame. Perhaps, I could blame the women's movement and their lie that I am not enough of a woman if I don't work full time in my “career.” Maybe it's the credit card companies false promises of never ending credit lines, and zero percent interest offers. It could even be the old fashion American work ethic of my ancestors, that elusive American dream of reaching out of your circumstances and creating something better than what you had. I don't know how it started, but I know it's gotta stop.

With each successive generation, people want more and more and more. Bigger is better.

It's no longer enough to have a car, now I need to have a minivan. Wait, it's not a minivan any longer, I need to get an SUV. But it can't be the standard SUV, it has to have duel DVD players, seat specific air control and a temperature controlled cup holder for each passenger. It needs to be a hybrid so I can do my part to save the world, because it's my fault the world is going to explode.

Let's not forget the house, I need to have the right house in the best subdivision. It doesn't matter what lengths I need to go to for that to happen. If I have to get a mortgage that will have to be paid until my kids are ready to put me in a nursing home, so be it. Because my kids deserve the best and gosh darn it, so do I.

As someone who had a credit card the summer before I left for college, I know what it means to spend without caring about the consequences. By the time I was a junior in college, I had maxed out my credit card a couple of times. I did not learn and apply what it meant to buy responsibly until I was almost done with college. So, please, hear me out for the rest of this post.

I am not saying it's wrong or evil to strive for good things. I want my kids to grow up in a safe neighbor hood and go to a good school. I want them to have cool toys and wear nice clothes. But what values am I teaching my kids if I spend every spare penny my husband earns, and more we don't have, to make that happen? What are they learning if every time we get some extra cash it has to go to pay off the credit cards? I am just feeding the monster of materialism. If I don't teach them how to save and the lessons of sacrifice, then they are just going to inherit the world's view of spending. That as long as you have a little plastic card, it doesn't matter what's in your bank accounts. And if you don't have enough money to pay off the credit card, the government will be there to bail you out. That is going to put them at a disadvantage. It will prevent them from being able to pursue their dreams fully because they will have to work to get out of debt.

When I don't take the time to demonstrate frugality and biblical savings principals to my kids, than all the blessings I offer them, mean nothing. Until my kids understand about sacrifice, they don't realize the gift of a blessing. Because you can't have blessings with out sacrifice. Whether that sacrifice is material, spiritual or emotional.

So that is what I am trying to teach my kids...
1.That when they get toys for Christmas or their birthday, they need to go through the toys they have and donate them to someone else.
2.Even though we could go and buy a play set on credit, we're going to wait until we can buy one with cash
3.The most important lesson we are trying to demonstrate, is that each day we must sacrifice our own personal desires for those of God's. God's desire for us to love one another and care for one another. The lesson of reaching out and helping others. Whether that means sharing our snacks at the playground, or forgiving the child younger than them who pushes in front of them at that same playground.

1 comment:

Gene and Annie said...

Great lessons Katie!! I wish I could have gotten a hold of these lessons much earlier on in my life...then we could be more free to do the work that God has called us to!! WE are learning our lessons and will never use a credit card again!! So I totally think that teaching our kids early on is sooooo important!