Thursday, August 16, 2012

Saving or Splurging (and why neither really matters)

That moment when your little boy snuggles up against your shoulder with his little fingers wrapped around your shirt collar.

Opening your paycheck and relishing the blessing of being able to pay your bills for the coming month. 

Dipping your spoon into a bowl of freshly frozen, pure, low-fat ice cream straight from the ice cream maker.

Splurging on that book on Amazon that you've been hankering after for a good 6months.

Fixing grilled pork chops and a salad of fresh greens for a healthy supper.

Finding an amazing deal on a bunch of baby clothes at a garage sale.

What on earth do these things have to do with each other?

"Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past." (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20)

I frustrate myself to no end with my expertise in stressing myself out. Being a woman, let alone a wife, let alone a mom, let alone a businesswoman, let alone a friend, let alone [you fill in the blank], can overwhelm the strongest, most invincible person! Add hormones, trials, sleepless nights, unexpected "surprises" and you've got the perfect recipe for an overwhelmed heap of exhaustion instead of a bright, radiant woman.

As I've discovered, rubbing shoulders with new mom friends or even old friends who I can now connect with as a mom, there are different things we pride ourselves in, which in turn can be the very things we stress ourselves out over. For instance, I am very frugal and very health-conscious. Great things, right? But they turn around and bite me all too often. If I discover I paid more than I could have for something, or we slack off just a bit in our healthy eating, my heart unsettles itself and I begin to worry.

Then again, we all think that the choices we are making are the best. Perhaps they are funneled through a frugal mindset: whatever is cheapest is best. Or a healthy mindset: even if it costs extra we will do this because it is safest for our family. Or a family-first mindset: the feelings and comfort of every family member come before anything else. Or whatever else shades the lenses of your life-glasses.

But what about the incredibly health-conscious woman who is diagnosed with cancer? Or the very frugal family who still can't manage to pay off their loans? Or the family-centered home unit with a child who rebels as a teenager?

There is no explanation for so many things in life. It's so easy to put money first, or safety, or pleasure, or ministry, or family, or whatever. And when those things betray or disappoint us, we crumble.

This is where the Preacher's wisdom comes in: it is GOOD to receive what God stretches out for us, and to accept it, and to enjoy it. This attitude in itself is a gift from God! Simply put, there is no need for me to stress out. God offers a stress-free life attitude for me and all He asks is that I accept it.

The most important thing in life is fearing God.

That life is a life of trust. Relaxing in His arms and the guiding hand of His presence. That means enjoying what I am doing now, whatever that may entail - working to pay the bills or relaxing with my family, saving pennies on groceries or splurging on new running shoes for myself and my husband, eating spinach or eating brownies, cleaning the house or watching a movie in it, serving my husband and son or just enjoying their company.

"God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past."

Life is good. Enjoy it!

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