First, a disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be whiny or a plea for sympathy or pity. To be quite honest, I'd rather you despise me than pity me as ultimately, I feel like we are where we are supposed to be in life regarding the choices we've made and our current place. But, I also think it's important to be transparent; one of the things I value most about this blog is that I've been very honest up to this point, and I haven't really shied away from the things I want to talk about, and I'm not going to start that now.
One of the most frustrating things about our current lifestyle is the feeling that we're always a step behind other people our age. While most of the people we know our age are married, two income families (or the husband makes enough that the wife can stay home), we are working with one income. Others have moved into (or built) their own two and three thousand square foot homes, while we opted for one that's only eleven hundred so that we'd be sure to be able to afford it easily. Others are having kids while we know that's not going to be a reality for us for some time. We're not ready. And I cannot tell you the amount of times that I've heard, "if you wait until you're ready, you never will be," like for some reason, that's supposed to encourage us to make an irresponsible decision. I really believe that it's absolutely crucial to realize when you're not emotionally ready for children and/or to realize that your current way of life would make having kids an irresponsible decision. A household with two full-time students who are also working is no place for a dog, much less a child. Additionally, my anxiety isn't fully controlled, so I can't even fathom the possibility of going back to a lifestyle of being terrified for nine months (because I'm sure I would have to go off my meds). So, when we get to the point when kids are going to be a reality, other people our age will already have older children, we'll be older parents and will have trouble relating to other parents with similarly aged children.
It's tough to try to explain to people why we don't go places, don't eat out frequently, don't do things that cost much money, why we leave our thermostat set to 80 in the summer and 60 in the winter, why we leave the lights off if at all possible, why we "save a flush," why we drive a car that is twenty years old and was gifted to us, why I (almost) only buy second-hand clothes, why brand-name is a rarity in our house, why our monthly gasoline and grocery budget combined is only $450, why I wash plastic spoons and forks, and why we only have twenty channels.
Would we do these things even if we did have money? Probably. Because I know that, as a general rule, as income increases, so also increases one's lifestyle to match. I don't ever want to get in that pattern. I want to be free...free to stay home to take care of our kids if I want to, free to pursue a dream, free to be free of corporate America. I don't want to live a life where we have two new cars and a big home, but I have to climb the corporate ladder to be able to afford it. That, my friends, is a prison all of its own.
However, if we had more money, I would buy organic produce and fair trade goods. I would buy eggs from a local farm, somewhere where I know that male chicks weren't thrown into a grinder alive and hens weren't forced into battery cages without being able to move. I would give money to animal rights organizations. Hell, I might even create my own Christian-based animal rights organization. I would set up a cat rescue. I would join a yoga studio. I wouldn't feel supremely guilty when we do our once-weekly Chinese takeout meal. I would pay twice what our mortgage payment currently is so that we can pay it off faster. I would opt to pay Joey's tuition out-of-pocket. I wouldn't be terrified when my tuition bill comes due each semester just because we are paying mine out-of-pocket.
I don't really think that these things are unreasonable, but they're just not a possibility for us right now. And sometimes, it pisses me off. Sometimes, I look at the people who eat out three or four times a week and buy every technological gadget that comes along and I'm resentful. Do I begrudge them their purchases? Not really. I think that there are probably more useful ways that they could be spending their money, but I don't hate them for what they have. But sometimes, I do wonder why we struggle when other people quite obviously don't have to.
Do I think it's because we've done something terrible and God is pissed at us? In my weaker moments, yes, I do. I'm not going to lie. Do I sometimes feel like God doesn't really care? Yep to that one too. And before you leave me comments to tell me that I'm wrong, be aware that I know that. But I also think that it's pointless to lie to God...He knows what you're thinking anyway, so you can't really feed Him a line of bull unless you're just trying to make yourself feel holy, which is a waste of time.
In my heart, I know that we're called to a specific purpose. Since Joey and I have been together, we've both known that our calling was in the world of academia. We knew that it would be a hard and expensive journey, and we knew that we were going to have to live a life where we sacrifice the best material things so that we could pay for our tuition. We knew that it was something that would pay off later, if not monetarily, then at least in our feeling that we were doing something worthwhile, that we were helping people and making a difference. We knew that it wasn't going to be easy.
But last night, I had a hard night. After fixing yet another meal of brown rice, I got angry. Today has been better; today, I've regained focus. I don't think that God hates us, and I know that He cares. And I know that my attitude simply needed an adjustment, from ambivalence to gratitude. I'm in gratitude mode today, and it feels much better.
That's all I've got.