The Fat of the Land

Thus says the Lord:

 “Beware lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; lest when you have

 eaten your giant, saturated portions of beef and rich desserts and are over-stuffed,

and have built your 2500 sq. foot home with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, an interlocking brick driveway and natural gas hook-up for summer barbeques,

and when your stocks grow and your investments multiply and your house appreciates and all that you have multiplies,

then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of bondage and poverty.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14…sort of).

This is how Deuteronomy 8 sounded to me when I read it this morning. How should I describe it? Convicting? A kick in the pants? A wake-up call? Yeah, something like that.

I’m 31 years old, with a husband, 3 kids, a minivan, and a mortgage on a house in suburbia. We started out 10 years ago in a dingy apartment with Astroturf carpets, colourful neighbours, and an over-zealous heating system. Like most other people we know, we slowly “moved up” in the world. After a year or two we rented a better place, which we left once we purchased our first home. We had a baby, and other factors became important: being closer to church and family. So we sold our starter home and moved into a home in a nicer neighbourhood, close to our church and family, and of course, good schools. We now occupied a home that gave our family of 3 the unofficial minimum of 300 square feet of living space per person. We also had great neighbours, great curb-appeal, and two Toyotas in the driveway. Finally, we had arrived.

Two more kids and a few years later, there’s a problem. We’re now at only 200 square feet per person, and the Toyotas are getting old and rusty. Somehow, it doesn’t feel like “we have arrived” anymore. Common sense tells us that we need to consider another move to make room for the growing family. A 1000-square foot bungalow simply will not accommodate three boys and their parents for the next 20 years.

I have yet to meet anyone who would argue that point with me. In a society where personal comfort is one of our highest values (especially where children are concerned) it is assumed that any effort put forth to secure those comforts is justified. The thought of subjecting two or three children to sharing a bedroom for years just rubs most people the wrong way. After all, how can a child flourish if they are not given the best possible… everything?

For many of our grandparents (and perhaps even parents) going without was a fact of life. Christmas presents included hand-knit socks, oranges, and perhaps one toy. Children of long-ago could not have conceived of the gifts that have now become standard Christmas fare: video game consoles, televisions and high-priced electronic toys. The families that occupied the homes in our neighbourhood back when they were new had an average of 3 or 4 children where today’s families have one or two. Somehow, despite having to share rooms and crowd around a kitchen table, these children grew up to become hard-working, productive members of society.

I recently saw a Real Estate listing for a “family home” where we knew the owner. A business owner, he had built this 6000 square foot mansion for his family of six, not sparing any expense. It seems a looming bankruptcy had forced the sale of the ultra-luxurious house that was supposed to be the fulfillment of every desire these people could have conceived of. If I’m honest though, I suffer from the same ailment this ambitious business owner does: it’s just never enough. If money and comfort are the goal, we wander perpetually, yet never arrive.

7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    bettythecanadianmenno said,

    I’m glad it seems you have come to your senses….because I would most certainly “argue that point with you ” !!!!!
    No moving, do you hear me ?!?!?
    PS. I do, however, agree with the rest. ;o)

  2. 2

    Diane Pagnucco said,

    Good Job Deb. So right on! Let’s keep things in perspective.

  3. 3

    Wendy S said,

    Hey Debbie,

    I love the truths and parallels God has laid out for us in the Old Testament writings and experiences! I really appreciate posts from Feb 7 and Feb 2. I struggle with the same things! I too find it hard to keep from complaining when sleep deprived and the kids are endlessly at each other. It is tough to draw the line and say “Enough!”. However, I also must quickly admit that God has showered his blessing graciously! Thanks for your insights. Wendy S.

    • 4

      Debbie said,

      It really is a matter of perspective, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s so hard to see past the intense, everyday stresses of raising a gaggle of boys, but we are, by nature, myopic. The last chapter hasn’t been written, so let’s continue running the race that has been set before us, Wendy! I believe that we parents are laying up treasures in heaven by investing our everything in these little ones.

  4. 5

    Alison said,

    A condition of society. Greed, a desire for luxury and things that are just out of our reach. This is one of mankind’s most virulent afflictions. I too was afflicted, but have also had the great fortune to be able to see and live the truth.

    After years of living a lifestyle that many would envy from the outside, the truth was anything but desirable. I had all the money that I could ask for, and was broken. Physically, emotionally and spiritually void. I had a beautiful home in an affluent area. My children had everything that they could ever want or need, with the exception of a mother who could smile genuinely,feel anything but anger resentment and hatred.

    I managed to maintain the emotional and social needs of my children with an intricate dance of theatrics, fooling everyone who met me. I smiled, laughed, played and sang. And then spent the evenings weeping in my home alone.

    I escaped…. Laaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

    I now live in a “cozy”, but beautiful home, less than half the size of my former abode. It needs work…oh, it needs work. But I love it! I live on less than one tenth the income. But I do live. And I live a life that I could only have dreamed of in my former life. And then, every once in a while… I see something! It’s usually not a big something. It’s a something that catches my eye and I say ” oooooh that’s nice”, or ” oh I wish…” But I don’t and wouldn’t ever want to go back. I walk away without the “thing”, and I go home. I still want…everyone wants! But, I have everything that I need, and more.

    So in short… I would, and have, traded money for true happiness. I have enough to live for now, and hope that it will remain that way for the rest of my life. But most of all, I can provide my children with a happy, loving, authentic mother, and for that I would trade no amount of money.

    • 6

      bettythecanadianmenno said,

      That was beautiful.

    • 7

      Debbie said,

      Very well put, and absolutely true in your case. Anyone who knows you will agree that those aren’t just words, but that you live out what you write about. Would that we all could be so gracious when met with similar circumstances.

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