I grew up poor. It sort of came with the territory of Christian parents, twelve children, small salary that wasn’t going to see any increase in it unless and until my father denied Christ. So far, my story is a very familiar one to Christians individuals that grew up in the socialistic communism of the Eastern European block.
But the poverty I experienced in Romania -you didn’t have to be a Christian to experience poverty, you simply had to be part of those countries to experience the “glories” of socialism- left an unpleasant taste in my mouth and it’s marks all over my body. Unlike other people, I had the blessing to be rescued from that environment:) But looking back, there was a movement, a spiritual movement I bought into for a long period of time, a sort of spiritual pride of our poverty. It was a coping mechanism. Something I only recognized years after leaving Romania. I do not blame the ones left behind that still think that way, it’s their way of coping with a hard situation the best they can. But years have passed, Chet and I worked hard and made certain decisions that proved to be smart financial moves and I no longer feel poor. There will always be others that have more than us, but there are far more people in this word that have less. I am grateful to God for everything we have, every day of my life and I do my best to help out others that still are in the midsts of poverty, usually in impoverished countries. But the funny thing about poverty that I’ve come to understand, it is a mindset. Let me explain my findings.
While in Romania -or Russia, or Bulgaria, or Africa, or India etc- there was a realistic and evident state of material and nourishment lack. Here in America is not so -unless one goes through an unfortunate turn of events in their lives that can leave them at the steps of poverty for a temporary period of time- its more a mindset that some have while spending unwisely or foolishly.
Example: Back in 2014-2015 I lost my job because I became very ill, medical bills piled up, the economy was not yet strong to sell the house and Chet’s company was having financial troubles and unable to pay him for months at the time. It showered on us with one bad news after another.
Example: Some great friends of ours, in their retirement years lost their savings to a crook that lived next door. The stress of such loss gave the husband a heart-attack and he died, leaving a widow and a child behind to fend for themselves.
These are hard situations, that come in our lives uninvited.
I’m getting better and our financial situation is fine, but it took sacrifice and great work. Our friends are recovering as well, but it took great work and sacrifice. These are only two examples in the sea of uninvited hardships coming in the lives of great people.
But there’s the other side.
Example: Couple that spent unwisely, lost their home, eventually their marriage and through it all used many trusting people and friends to keep up a facade that was crumbling anyway. To this day I haven’t seen efforts to put right what they’ve done wrong. Further more they’re the victims in their lives and everyone else who helped them were the abusers- their perspective. I’m sure this sounds very familiar to some of you. Chet and I had our fair share of such people.
Example: I was selling a wedding rental business piece by piece, mostly on Craigslist, after I realized it’s not going to work for us. The prices were fantastic. One buyer in particular, came to pick her items, but needed up lingering for an hour giving a sob story about her sad situation, and how expensive life was. I almost gave in to lower my already low (some items were .50 cents a piece) when I heard her phone ring and she pulled out of her purse the newest and best cell phones on the market. Listening to her conversation I understood that she expected stuff for free because of a mind set she was raised with. Once she hung up, I tolled her to either buy or leave since I had other engagements. She purchased what she came in for and left, but waisted an hour of my time.
Which brings me to my final thought; perspective. What one thinks about their lives can look dramatically different from the reality of their choices. Of our choices, I’m not excluded from the “life’s mistakes club”.
In truth, here in America at least, we have far more opportunities to leave the poverty state, if we put aside laziness, pride, ego, and whatever else excuse people use to stay poor. I can see some people rolling their eyes and fuming while reading these lines. When I grew up, there were no such things as: food stamps, shelters, programs to help the poor, low-income help, missions to shelter the poor, food banks, planned parenthood (which I do not support), etc. When someone said: I have no money to buy bread, it ment no money, nada. There were no credit cards back then, just a whole lot of poverty to share with each other.
PERSPECTIVE. Here in this country we still have far more than most of the world has. Opportunities as well. There is much to be thankful for. Little to be unhappy about. Keep the right perspective.