Saturday, March 16, 2013

Want Not

In my last post, I talked about growing up as a child of parents who grew up in the Depression.

My dad was a factory worker; he worked on an assembly line making oil stoves for Fawcett, before the company was taken over by Enterprise. He didn't make much money, and we lived a very simple, very spartan life.  

To keep the "past due" notices at bay, in desperation my mother hired her services out to various clients as a weekly housekeeper, when I was eight years old. By the time I was ten, she was helping to pay off debts that had piled up: car loans, oil bills, grocery bills, even. At least the collectors weren't calling anymore. Yet money was still a major issue; there seemed to be barely enough to survive, even with a large vegetable garden. Extras were almost unheard of. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, the lessons we had learned about not wasting what little we had, paid off, and I can't ever remember a time when there was no food to put on the table. 

Yet, there were times when I would "want." I longed for a certain lifestyle that I could never have. I spent a lot of time imagining and fantasizing about what we'd do if a lot of money dropped into our laps. 

At times, it seemed as though our lives revolved around money. Not the way rich people's lives can ... but ours was more of a "poor man's greed." We were preoccupied with saving what we had for the essentials to the point of re-using milk bags to freeze food, for example. We wondered if we'd ever get enough ahead to have something nice: we were thrust from pillar to post by circumstances beyond our control, and the wolf of potential poverty was never far from our door.  All it would have taken was a prolonged illness, or some sort of disaster like a fire or a flood or even a car accident - and we would have been left with nothing. We all were keenly aware of it, and yet we didn't want other people to know how close the wolf was... a classic case of "poor man's pride."

Photo "Between Seasons" courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at

It wasn't until many years later, after I had moved away from that atmosphere and had lived many years as a wife and mother, that I realized how it was possible to "want not." 

Always in my life I had looked away to what I didn't have, the next big purchase or the next nice thing I wanted, as if I were trying to make up for my parents having to eke out a living. 

I only focused on what I didn't have

It never crossed my mind to be grateful for the good things that I did have.

When my life took a 180 degree turn in February 2009, I learned a whole new way of looking at life, one that demanded rigorous honesty with myself, one that required an attitude - a daily attitude - of thankfulness and gratitude. Thankfully, there were those who came alongside of me and modeled that lifestyle for me ... because I didn't have any clue how to do it; nobody had ever showed me before. Nevertheless, as I learned how to let go of unrealistic expectations and to live in "Today" instead of "If Only" - a new experience for me - I began to notice something I hadn't expected.

I smiled more. I was more relaxed, more ... content. Less and less did I care about "what if" and "if only." (I can't say that's disappeared completely, but it's a work in progress!) I could live more and more in Today; I could be present in the Present and not fret about the future or rail against circumstances (or against people) I couldn't change. 

Learning how to live in the Now helped me to allow others be who they were, and gave me permission to be who I was... and am. I began to feel a little more comfortable inside my own skin. That was a new feeling, too.

I started to "Want Not." I started being content with exactly who I was - and with where I was. 

I began to realize that I was right where God intended me to be, and I finally determined to just do the next right thing. It doesn't sound complicated - and it isn't - but it was at the point of desperation, because life wasn't working for me, where I was willing to let go of my old lifestyle. After I did, and I started to get unwrapped from all the constrictive, nasty grave-clothes I'd had wrapped around me all my life, my life was slowly transformed.

Of course, I am far from having arrived ... but all I can say, now that I'm on this journey, is that I wouldn't want to go back to the way it was before. 

Not for anything.

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