I love it when lyrics paint a good picture. This picture was me. It was me until something happened. Well, not just something, a lot of little things.
Trying to live by God’s standard for me was causing me a lot of heartache. When I quit my job I was stuck for weeks in the “woe is me” mode. Didn’t God understand that I didn’t want to live another year of my long 40 year life being poor? Hadn’t I had enough? For most of my life (except for those few rebellious years in high school) I have tried to be a good girl, and I have never known the freedom we call financial success. Didn’t this girl deserve a break?
The girl left her mom and dad’s house at 17 with nothing but a few suitcases and a deposit on an apartment and forged her way from there with no assistance at all. This girl worked two night jobs (sometimes til 2 am) while pregnant with her third baby to save money for hubby’s college. This girl lived three decades plus without a dishwasher and almost a decade with a dilapidated bathroom that embarrassed her to shame. This girl rarely had new clothes growing up and still goes without so much to buy her own kids clothes from the thrift-store. Wasn’t it time for this generous, obedient and loving daughter of God to know another way of life: the better way? Why God? Why when I want to work to have the finer things of life do you make me stay home? Why when everyone else seems to get multiple vacations a year, have new cars, big homes, and plenty to go around (even when they too have large families) are we made to suffer? Why do all those other ladies get to work to pay for that stuff and I am told to stay home?
I was D O N E. I felt picked on. I felt dejected. I was abandoned and forsaken. I was mad. I was hurt. I was confused. Why didn’t Got want me to have anything more when he seemed to give to everyone else so abundantly? Why did I always get the table scraps?
And then three things happened. The combination of which had a profound affect on my heart and mind.
First, I was sitting in Sunday School when asked to share a favorite scripture. I went looking in the Doctrine and Covenants for a verse that was extremely influential at a hard time in my life. It says, “Hold on thy way.” While searching, I stumbled upon an answer I needed in the moment. It happened to be another favorite that has stuck out to me many times in my poverty stricken life.
“And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world and seek for the things of a better.”
~Doctrine and Covenants 25:10
For those of you that don’t believe in Mormon scripture, here is the same message from The Holy Bible.
“But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” ~Luke 12:31
I thought, “Why can’t I seem to let go of riches and seek the kingdom of God?”
Then a few weeks later, in a church meeting, we sang a hymn titled How Firm A Foundation. It has always been one of my favorites. As I sang along, the words stuck in my throat, they turned around and flew on wings straight down to my heart. My eyes filled with tears.
“How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in his excellent word! What more can he say than to you he hath said, Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?”
“In ev’ry condition – in sickness, in health, In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth, At home or abroad, on the land or the sea – As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand, As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.”
“Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”
I understood something: God didn’t take this trial of poverty away because He doesn’t care. (What? He doesn’t care? – He cares about me infinitely, he just doesn’t care about my financial status.) It isn’t important to him that I have new clothes or a vacation or a dishwasher. The purpose of this life is to prove me faithful. The more I suffer and remain obedient, the more I earn in the next life. He wants me to have mansions in heaven, and is only concerned with giving me the necessities of mortal life while I am on earth.
Still, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t shake it. I was still resentful. I unloaded on the marriage counselor who happens to be amazing at what she does. I thought surely she would back me up and empower me to go back to work. Yet, I sold her short. She shares my faith and my religion. She called me out and gave me the third part of the message,”You can’t compare your life to other people’s lives. You can’t feel less than others because your challenges are different than theirs. If you can’t learn to be happy poor, you will never be happy rich either.” And the clincher, “You don’t have to be poor, you just have to be willing to be poor.”
I went home and sulked for a day and thought it over, and ended my journey in prayer. My heart had changed. “O.k. God, I’m willing to be poor. Well, I want to be completely willing. Change me.”
The next day as I was looking out my front window, something clicked. I got it. In my changed heart, I was happy that my needs were met. Who cares if the house I live in is rented? God has always met my needs. I didn’t care one bit about my beat up mini-van, second hand couches, or the lack of drapes on my curtain rod (for the last 2 years.) It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that the above saying (the most important things in life aren’t things) was ironically found by me at Abigail’s soccer friend’s mansion (full of everything anyone could ever want) because it was true. It was true for me and it was true for the rich people too. If my heart was turned towards God, and if I could keep it there, the importance of things would be nil, and I could be happy.
Ever since that morning, I have been happy. Truly happy. So happy I hope I am never not poor because I might forget.
I guess I can’t like this song anymore. Dangit. It’s so cute.
If you still need some more convincing, go read the whole chapter of Luke 12. woo-we. Good stuff.