For most of us, the reality is that we live with restraints on our resources. In other words, we don’t have enough money to do anything we want. The result is that we have to make choices with our money that, by default, will signal our priorities. Their might be a person who comes into the office about a child custody issue who is passionate about custody for their child and their stated reasons are valid and apparently in the child’s best interest. When faced with the cost of a legal battle in a case such as this, passion gave way to practical for the time being and the person may began to do the math, including a risk/reward analysis to determine if this was going to be money well spent. Admirable intentions are limited by financial constraints, resulting in a potential compromise to passion and a dissatisfied heart which can be very hard to live with.
When we say, “I can’t afford to _______ (fill in the blank),” we are usually actually saying, “I choose to spend my money in another way.” It may be for things like a mortgage or car payment which we consider essential but how many of us have houses and cars that reflect something more than a need? In other words, our house is bigger and nicer than we really need or our car payment is for a vehicle that is more of a luxury? How we define the word “need” as compared to what we simply want is essential in determining the answer. We would sometimes argue that we need to live in a certain area so that our kids go to a particular school for the best chance to get into a good college, get a good job so they can make enough money that they can live in a similar or better neighborhood for a similar or better school, etc. and the cycle continues.
All of this is fine if those decisions don’t leave us compromising our passions for the rest of our lives to catch up to our debts. If the effort to ensure our children’s education isn’t at the cost of actually being able to be in a relationship with our kids during their formative years from having to work all of the time then is that a good series of choices? If we can afford it and not be a slave to the economic system in constant fear of what might happen to bring our house of cards tumbling down then the house and the school is great. If, however, the result is a life without the ability to live so that we can pass the same on to our children then the formula we have been using to justify our excessive purchases might be questionable to begin with.
Here is an even tougher question that takes years for most of us to unpack; what drives our “needs?” When our happiness is driven by things and spending , then our Joy is deprived of the totality of its rightful place within us. Happiness is temporary and dependent on our circumstances while joy is internal and independent of external stimuli. What inside of me shows up outside of me when I make decisions on where my money goes? Is there something missing within me that results in habits of excess? Before any one of us dismisses the question, it’s probably worth a look. The look can help us to address many of the negative situations we may find ourselves in that may include finances/debt, relationships, bad habits/addictions, health/stress, depression, anxiety or a lack of contentment. There is only one final Answer and it will take us a lifetime to develop our intimacy with the Solution to fill up those things that are empty, heal those things which are broken and set us free where we are bound up. The result, though, is increasing Peace and Contentment whether we have just a little or much more than we need.