Saturday, 26 October 2013

Thinking Aloud...

Just been pondering a bit lately... and thought I would put some of it 'out there' and see what comes back! I often times find that just by writing (typing) things out, they can make more sense; even if the answer itself is still not obvious!

This is a LONG rambling post... I am tired! Grab a cup of tea, and join me as I ponder some of the deeper questions we (hopefully) all struggle with; I'd love to know I am not alone in this!

I am wondering if some of this is age - I'm 18 months off turning 40, but shhhh! Or maybe it is our stage in life - two little people and still renting! Or maybe it is an uncanny awareness of my mortality - my parents are ageing, and it makes things; important things, become more clear. I don't know, but whatever it is; it has left me wondering, pondering... I don't know how 'normal' this is, so I am putting this out there and asking you all! Hubby just says I think to much, and blames this on my inability to sleep... his answer is to learn to stop and relax more!

Original image can be found here

A lot of this pondering is also related to my faith - so some of it may seem WAY over the top if you don't believe the same as I do... but bare with me!

Anyway - getting right down to the point...

As a Christian - is it okay to want good stuff for you and your family? 

Obviously we are still renting, but we would like to be able to buy our own place - stability for us and the kids; I mean it's the kiwi dream and all! Now; don't get me wrong - I am NOT against buying your own place... this is not the issue I am pondering about. But we're dreaming BIG, seriously BIG! And this is where I am coming unstuck.

Original image can be found here

Haha - promise we're NOT dreaming this big!

Is this OK? Or should we just be dreaming 'enough', and anything 'extra' is a bonus we should be giving to those in need? 

Enough is a normal family home, in an average suburb - within our means, close to schools we're happy with and just 'living the life'! Paying bills, driving children around, working, attending church, socialising etc. etc. etc.

Original link can be found here

But we want more, and I mean WE - I really am emotionally invested in this dream of ours also, it is something we have both wanted from the start of our marriage; but the dream has grown to include so much more as the years have gone by. I never would have believed that after 9 years of marriage we'd still be renting... never would have believed it! The assumptions we have, really can make an 'ass out of you and me', as the saying goes! 

We're thinking big - so let me define big for you... just to give you an idea, something to stand up next to your house; allow you to make comparisons and decide for yourselves if this is excessive, or not. For all I know, you could already be living this dream - or dreaming this dream yourself... it may not seem excessive to you at all.

Ultimately we would like:
- Land, plenty of it (but just a lifestyle block, not a farm); including but not restricted to:
* Water running through it, a stream or something.
* An orchard and a big garden.
* Some animals.
* A view.

House:
- Four bedrooms; which includes a spare bedroom.
- En suite, walk-in wardrobe, and small lounge for us off our bedroom!
- A library / study area for me.
- A home office for hubby.
- A gym.
- A games room for the kids.
- A main open plan living area, and a formal living area.
- Kitchen with scullery.

And the list goes on... and on... and on... but changes now and again!

See - dreaming BIG; hubby is of the opinion 'If you're going to dream, aim for the highest'! And he does... he has his own personal and career dreams - and this philosophy runs deep throughout everything he does and dreams! 

But - the older I get, the more I am stumbling over this philosophy! Don't get me wrong, I want the opportunity to give my children everything their little hearts desire; just like any parent does. But I am in two minds as to whether or not we need THIS much stuff to be able to do this for them...

I still want the land, the orchard, the gardens - I still want a 'nice' house as well; I want enough that we don't have to stop and think how we're going to wrangle the budget to pay the next bill, or if we have to put it on the credit card. I want more for us than what we have now, more than what I saw my parents struggle through when I was a child.

But I feel guilty wanting the excess that we're currently dreaming of...

And that is what I am pondering:

- Am I feeling guilty because we grew up with 'just enough', and thus far 'just enough' has been my life... so anything more than that is 'too much', and I am not good enough or worthy enough to ever be bestowed with 'too much'?

- Am I feeling guilty because I don't think I could handle 'too much'? That maybe it'll change me in such fundamental ways I will no longer recognise myself, nor like myself. That I will just keep wanting more? That maybe I simply can't handle 'too much'? That money will turn my heart away from what matters most - from my Lord?

- Am I feeling guilty because this excess doesn't fit with my new 'philosophy' of simple living? That if we had THIS much stuff, all my newly found interests and passions will become null and void... that I'd be a fraud really; as my life would be full of 'excessiveness' on one hand, and yet I am preaching the whole 'live, clean and cook' frugally on the other. Who would listen to me, or even believe a word I say, if I end up living such opposite extremes in my own personal life? And what does that say about me as a person?

 - Am I feeling guilty because many others in our family, and amoung our friends, don't have 'too much' and I would feel bad that we do? That maybe 'too much' would also do things to my little family, change our dynamics in such a way and I'll look back and wish for 'the simpler' days!

- Am I feeling guilty because there is so much poverty in this country, in the world? We have so much already (even though we're only renting still), is it right to be wanting even more?

I don't know why I have this guilt...

There is a lot of good that can come out of having money also - we discuss this just as often, and in great lengths as well... it's never been 'just about us', unlike what this post so far has portrayed. We're not totally selfish beings - promise! We want to be able to provide for my parents, especially as my Dad's health deteriorates more and more, and he becomes more house-bound.  We would also like to give money to family who are struggling - give them a hand-up; and just allow them a break, a chance to breathe again... and like us, not be counting the cents every time a bill comes in. We'd like to be able to offer to pay for our kids tertiary education (and so much more); so they're not relying on the government, nor having to work their way through University.

There are also many charities and companies that we admire; non-profit organisations we'd love to be able to help out if we had the chance and the money... Obviously kids charities tend to pull at the heart strings these days; so much more than they used to pre-children! One of my passions has always been families in poverty - but not oversea's, rather people in our own backyard. There are hundreds, if not thousands of charities that work for those living in poverty oversea's; and as kiwi's we put millions of dollars into them every single year! We have a sponsor child, and I am part of the Tony McClean Nepal Trust Committee, we believe in charities like this... we admire and respect these organisations (and many others) and what they do; but I have no burning desire to be any further involved in them than what we already are.

However, you show me a group that are working on the ground here in New Zealand, making a difference and changing lives right HERE - and everything inside of me just turns to jelly. My heart is for New Zealand, my passion is for our people, my love is for the little children who go to school hungry and come home hungry... these people need our help; not just our money; but our time and our love and our compassion.

Some of these things I can be doing right now, small things that I am trying to implement into our lives as we go about our daily living - things such as baking for The Sisterhood Ninja Bake 2013 last weekend (post to come). We are in a time in our lives where we can't give of ourselves as much as we would like, our children are young and need us as well... I am at peace with this; I have seen to many families fall over due to over-enthusiastic volunteering parents. If I can't look after my own family, I will not be able to help anyone else either - that is reality. But over time that will change... and I want to be ready; money or no money.

I have digressed, and I have also given up finding pictures that vaguely associate with what I am writing about; and it is now after 11pm.

So I will sign off, and hope like mad that you got to the very end of this post, and still have some energy left to leave me a comment...

PS - I warned you it is a LONG post... Hopefully it made a certain amount of sense though? Maybe? 

4 comments :

Maxine D said...

Sure - aim high, dream big, but remember you have to climb the ladder from the bottom, so you may have to start far smaller than your dream home.
Love end blessings
M

Amy said...

I’ve been pondering what to reply to your thought-provoking post, as we’ve had a few conversations like this lately too! I think that human beings are wired to dream and that is part of our ‘image of God’ nature (and some of us, your husband and mine included, are bigger dreamers than others!). But it can be really easy to find ourselves in the dis-satisfied, coveting, jealous place without intending on being there. I don’t think you need to worry about whether those house/land dreams connect with your desire to live more simply. It’s a journey and you’ve only recently come into it. My personal experience has been that my goals have changed gradually over time to more closely match my simpler values, and reflect the things God has been working on in me. We still have big dreams, but we also talk about being content with where we are now, and that by simply living as we already do we are incredibly wealthy. I think everyone wants good stuff for their family, regardless of their spiritual values. I think the difference with genuine Christ-centered Christianity is that we should be focusing our attention more on relationships, less on stuff, and on being generous with what we have…for each family that might mean different things as God challenges them about their stuff and their priorities. I think he’s more interested in what we do with and how we think about our stuff, or why we want it in the first place, than how much we have. I think for me, I try not to dream too much nowadays if I find that it’s leaving me struggling to be content. I hope these thoughts help in some way. I guess only you (and God) can work out the guilt issue as we all have different reasons for why we think/dream/etc the way we do. But your post really made me stop and think about it all again, so thank you, that’s a good thing!

Rachel said...

Hi Elizabeth, just now catching up on my blog-reading. You and I could have a veeeerrrry long conversation about this subject, I think. I don't think there is anything wrong with having big dreams, in fact I think it's a natural God-given human ability. And we need those dreams to give us hope and a purpose, and I believe God gives us those desires for His purposes. Sometimes though, it takes us a while to find out what that really is.

We have been and done the rural living dream, and honestly for us, while it was wonderful in many ways and I am glad my children have experienced it, it does create other issues (living rural can be a money pit, and your weekends are generally taken up with work on the land). We are living in town now and have so much more time and money to do other things, so living on the land is not necessarily all it's cracked up to be.

Also, I do believe that as christians each one of us has a 'ministry' that God has given us, whether we have the resources or not to do that. He can bless it because we are willing to do what He asks. I believe He uses our passions and dreams to do His work. Does that make sense? One day I'd love to sit down together and talk about this because it has been our journey too.

bex said...

that's a tricky one huh? i don't think there is anything wrong with having dreams for the future. but i also believe it is important to live in the present.

when eric first moved to nz we walked over 300km of 3-6 day tramps in a year. i used to get so frustrated with him when we were sitting in one incredible isolated spot - i'd be sitting there just enjoying the moment, and he would be reading about the next walk in his tramping book and wanting to discuss it with me!

we have a piece of random paper with three columns - this year, next year, in the next 5 years - and we add and cross off goals (including personal, family orientated, work, home renos etc). what makes it work for us - is we are seeing things get ticked off the list as the years go by, and things become less/more important as time goes by. helps us keep things in some sort of healthy perspective. xx