Today I am grateful for having enough. I have to admit, I was not always grateful for this. In my youth, I, like so many, didn’t want to have enough. I wanted to have A LOT! I came by this desire not only societally, but genetically. My father was a tremendously hardworking and ambitious man. And he also, in his youth, wanted to have A LOT. He started off as an office boy with Paris and Pert Advertising Agency, which later became known as Gardner Advertising, and worked his way up to President. When he was first hired as an office boy, he made $12 a week. This was not nearly enough for him. He wanted more. So each week, he would sell chances to his fellow office workers and raffle off his paycheck. A dollar a chance. Thirty or forty people would buy a chance each week; one lucky worker would win the $12 paycheck and my father would walk away with three times what he would have made had he just deposited his paycheck in the bank. Brilliant.
I started out in life with not nearly the financial drive or creativity that my father had, but I still wanted a lot. Doug and I had big dreams in our twenties and thirties. But we also felt a strong pull toward ministry and work that was not financially lucrative. Still, we did what we could to try and have it all. Having finally accumulated a nest egg, we did our due diligence, hired a recommended financial advisor, and invested it in the stock market — in October 2000. The rest is history. We lost it all in the stock market crash of 2001.
That experience made me start to reevaluate my goals and attitudes about what I wanted. After much prayer and reflection, Doug and I came to the conclusion that we were just not meant to have a lot. We were meant to have enough. Not a penny more, and not a penny less. Just enough. And that is what we have always had (whether we thought so or not!). I realized that my drive to have more was my way of being the captain of my own ship, of being in control. But the truth is I am not in control of my life. None of us are, no matter how much of an illusion of control we have created around us.
To really follow God meant I needed to learn how to trust my life to God. All of it — even the money. And not in a pie-in-the-sky kind of way, thinking I never have to do anything because God will provide and take care of everything . That is just naive. And it has been Doug’s and my experience that God answers money prayers late and with little attention to detail! Trusting my life to God means that, on a soul level, I believe God will provide what it is I need for the day. I must continue to do my due diligence — work hard, save my money, and give proportionately to the poor. But if I am being faithful to my call to follow God, God will give me what I need. This hasn’t always been easy. I’ve spent a sleepless night or six worrying about how we would ever pay for college for three children. Or what would happen to us in retirement. And I had to admit, in the end, that the answer to those worries then was ‘I don’t know”. But we kept plugging away, working, saving and giving to the poor. Trusting that all would we well.
Some days have gone better than others. Sometimes we have had more than enough, sometimes barely enough. But the operative word in each of those days was ENOUGH. And part of having enough was focusing on belonging to God rather than on being God, trying to control my destiny. In the end, so much of what I worried about never materialized. The kids are fine. They have all been educated. Doug and I are more than fine. We are blessed beyond belief, with our family, and work we passionately love. Our life doesn’t look anything like I imagined in my youth. But in so many ways, it is so much more than I could have ever imagined. And not because I have a lot. Simply because I have enough .