Living above my means

September 6th, 2010

One day about eleven years ago, when our fourth child, Laura, was still an infant, and our firstborn, Joseph, was five and a half years old, I was out with all four little ones.  I had not yet completely adjusted to the new family logistics.  We were making our way up a flight of outside stairs after an event.  Joseph (we called him Joey back then) was carrying the big diaper bag for me.  Daniel, almost four years old, was lugging my purse, while I carried Laura in her carseat and held the hand of Joshua, age two and a half.  Halfway up the stairs, little Joey dropped the diaper bag, which rolled to the bottom, items falling out into every dirty corner.  I made a small noise of frustration.

To which Joey responded, “Well, life isn’t always easy!”

After my last post, which explains what we believe about God our Provider, I guess it sounds like I am sailing triumphantly above the fray, somewhat naively letting everyone else deal with the down-and-dirty details of life?

Not so, my friends, not so!

For one thing, I live my life among many small details, and a good number of those are very down and very dirty!

Besides that, though, the financial side of life is not a particularly tough one for me.  My upbringing prepared me perfectly to be content with the financial level God has given me now.  My parents trusted in the Lord to provide for their needs as they reared their nine children.  We were rich in many things that really matter, even if our culture would say we were not wealthy.

But there is another area of life where I must deliberately choose to be joyful within the limitations God has placed around me.

There’s a friend who comes to visit nearly every week.  She and I have something in common.  We both find it hard to sit still for very long!  In addition to this, I am a “neatie” who has been blessed with a large family of “messies,” so I never run out of Things To Do.  Every time she has visited lately, she has asked something like this,

“How can you sit here doing the same thing, day after day?  I would go crazy!”

Her words have come to mind more than once when I am feeling like my hands have been tied behind my back for hours on end.  Especially last Friday when Verity must have been growth-spurting!  From two pm until ten pm that day, she cried unless she was working on a bottle.  I can feed her with one hand but then I must do it sitting down.  Or I can walk around, but then I must use both hands.  Neither of those positions is conducive to Getting Things Done!  At nine pm, I finally asked Laura if she could sit and feed Verity for a few minutes before she went to bed, so I could run around and take care of many small tasks that had been piling up all afternoon.

I rarely share the feeding time, so that Verity will continue to associate EAT with MAMA.  Toward the eventual goal of breastfeeding, you know.  And it seems to be working, since she usually tells anyone else she’s “done” fairly quickly, but will work at it a long time for me.

A. very. long. time.

But do you know?  I could beat my wings resentfully against the little cage I am living in right now.  Or I could nestle here serenely, confident that God is using this time to work on that impatience that rises up within me so easily.

I’m confident also that He is able to miraculously multiply my efforts in order to accomplish His own agenda. If He can turn five loaves and two fish into lunch for thousands, He can certainly work a full-to-overflowing miracle through my paltry abilities.

So in place of, “I would go crazy,” I choose joy.  I choose contentment.  I choose to say (not for the first time in my thirty-eight years of life),

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

I ask thee for the daily strength, to none that ask denied,

A mind to blend with outward life, while keeping at thy side,

Content to fill a little space if thou be glorified.

In service which thy will appoints, there are no bonds for me;

My secret heart is taught the truth that makes thy children free;

A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty.

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4 Responses to “Living above my means”

  1. sabrina says:

    Susanna, thank you again for sharing your heart. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been blessed by it.
    Thank you today for sharing the concept of seeing the limitations in our lives as directly from the Lord, and seeing in them His provision for us.

  2. Marilyn Osborn says:

    Love your heart, dear friend.  I choose joy as well….His joy!

  3. Denise says:

    Oh my that picture– is so cute!!  She looks SOOOO comfy in that “thing”– how did you EVER get it on?  LOL– I am terrible at those things!!  :)   But oh my– she looks like she is just as comfy as when she was in the womb!! 

  4. Rebecca says:

    Oh this ministered to me.  I am a stay at home mama, by that I mean I stay home, there’s no car for me to take.  It’s the way we’ve always done things, sometimes it’s harder than others for me.  I am so blessed to read this, and rest in what I have been given (I have been abundantly blessed).  And be content in what the Lord has for me each day!
    His JOY is my desire too.  I will chose it today.
    Love + hugs,
    Rebecca in Alberta

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