Of course, the most desirable option for us as a couple would be to sell and move out of state. I paid a fraction of what my house is worth now, and even with refinancing and a home equity line of credit, I could still pay everything off and have plenty of money leftover to purchase a home and put security in the bank. Plus, from the research I’ve done, we could have a house twice the size with 10 times (or more) the amount of property. However, in doing so, our kids would have to leave their suburban, Abercrombie & Fitch high school and try to adapt themselves into the John Deer Institute of Agriculture and Levi’s. Not a popular option.
None of our other options have them doing the happiness jig, either. They range from not going on our annual family vacation to Lake George to selling our house and renting another in the area until the kids graduate. Although the latter would be overwhelming, it has thus far been the only option that anyone has even considered. However, trying to find a house to rent for half of what we spend every month on our bills and that’s large enough to fit a family of six has proven quite impossible. What’s a person to do?
Well, I decided to go to church. In regard to the aforementioned funk, I was beginning to feel sorry for myself and to question if God was actually even hearing anything I’ve had to say in my prayers. I felt stressed, I felt option-less. I figured if I was going to find an answer somewhere, it would probably be in the House of God. Or at least in the parking lot.
…Which is where I started to come to some pretty sad conclusions about myself upon walking towards the entrance.
Earlier that day, I read of a fellow blogger whose grandson was facing cancer head-on, enduring all sorts of painful tests and procedures, and coming through every one of them like a trooper. All this kid wants to do is go to school with his friends, and yet he’s stuck at Ronald McDonald house for weeks at a time. I thought of this brave boy and his amazingly strong grandmother as I walked through the rustic lot, wood chips crunching beneath my feet, and the fresh smell of cedar filling my nose. This awareness suddenly brought feelings of gratefulness and shame at the same time before I even walked through the church doors.
You see, I was alive to smell those chips. To feel the light breeze on my skin. To hold my husband’s warm hand and acknowledge his constant supportive attitude toward my needs. I started to realize that God had heard some really big prayers of mine in the past few months. Even though I’d been worried over my finances for years, they won’t kill me. Ovarian cancer could have, however, and although it was in my family history, God answered my prayers for health. How dare I complain about Chase or Citibank. I was healthy, and I was present. I had one good ovary left; I had my hair.
Appropriately, the pastor gave a sermon about our words…how strong the small orifice of our mouth is, yet how the words that come out of it have the power to hurt…or to heal. At the end of the service, he handed us little cards that we were to use as a tool for the upcoming week. This piece of thick paper, called a “mission card”, had the week’s objective on top: “Shutting up.” Underneath the title, it had a small list written next to the word “Stop:”
Underneath that list was another:
“Each time you mess up, you will:”
A. Start the month over
B. Give one dollar to charity
By the time I had gotten to my car on the way out, I was up to three dollars already. Two gossips and a complaint, and that happened in the church lobby.
In those moments, I decided that, for at least this week, I am going to try to speak more positive words not only into other people’s lives, but into my own as well. What good is it if I’m positive towards others around me, but I can’t seem to convince myself that I’ll ever be out of debt? And what good is it if I’m never grateful for the things that I have been given for longer than five minutes? Perhaps my debt is in lieu of something much worse. I’m sure that my fellow blogging buddy would take ten million dollars in debt if it meant that her grandson had perfect health. I think we all would.
So in other words, I’m shutting up.
…Wish me luck.