Monday, April 12, 2010

Security

I'm feeling myself slow down on the inside, these days.

And that's saying something, because I've never been much of a hustly, bustly kind of girl.

But I'm telling you - a change is coming.

For a while now, that thought has breezed past me, barely ruffling my hair, before it swept on through. I noticed it, but in a way so vague and fuzzy that it registered in me more as nosy curiosity than anything.

Then came March.

March is something that I mostly glossed over, because honest to goodness, I was so tired of complaining on here. And it all felt silly and trivial and meaningless. What I'm seeing now, is that nothing is really meaningless, in the Grand scheme of things. I'm left thinking, thinking, thinking about what this life is, what it should be. I'm trying to sit still so the truth that I uncover can soak my bones. I'm only on chapter 1. It's just the start.

So, let me tell you a little story...

There once was a girl named Shannan who loved her husband and her kids in that very specific, hard-won kind of way. She enjoyed her job and knew it was a blessing. She loved her home and knew it was a blessing. She was wise with her money and brushed her kids' teeth every night and made everyone eat their veggies. She understood generosity, or so she thought. She understood responsibility, or so it seemed. She lived happily in a world that she sort of, deep down, believed that she had helped to create. She toed the line so carefully between "Everything I have is a blessing from the Lord" and "Boy, I sure am glad that I make good decisions". She was pretty sure it was a little of both. And secretly, she was a little proud of herself.

Every month, she dutifully sent her $34 dollars to the little boy in Columbia. The one who failed his last school year and told her about it in a letter in broken English. The one whose shame reached out from the page with the crayon drawings and pierced her heart - but just a little.

Every month, she tithed.

Every month, she gave.

Every month, she watched her savings account balance grow. She liked it. It made her feel safe. It made her feel thankful, yes. It made her feel "good with money".

No, she was not wealthy, in the way that we egocentric Americans think of "wealthy". Not even close. But if she wanted the bag, she bought it. She listened to Dave Ramsey talk about "Living like no one else" and she liked the sound of it. She daydreamed about later-in-life vacations, sending her kids off to college without student loans. It seemed like the responsible way to live.

In Shannan's world, there was always the reality of the adoption expense. It was planned for and known, but still, it made her wince a little to watch that chunk of change fly off to Korea. To watch the balance tumble.

And still, there was some left over.

But then February turned in its key and March moved in.

The highly anticipated tax refund (along with plans of, "what am I gonna buy?"), with the flip of an accounting-error-at-the-workplace switch, became the 4 digit tax debt.

The old car broke down and then the older car broke down the very next day, and 4 more digits slipped down the drain.

She was doing the math in her head. It was not wonderful, but it would be okay.

But the teeth. The tiny, shiny teeth were not okay. The years of medication had taken a toll and in one year's time, those little teeth were so sick that they required a visit - to the dentist, yes, and then to the operating room of the hospital.

And she cried.

And she cried.

For two days, she couldn't stop crying. How on earth would she be the one with the silver-toothed child? She wanted to paint on her chest, her back, her forehead, "We brush, every day!" "We are good eaters!" "I've only had one cavity - and it was a baby tooth!"

She had failed, she thought. To the tune of many more piles of digits.

She worried, because she already knew her job was ending so soon.

She fretted over the November election. What if Cory loses his job?

In the days that passed, she talked to one of her best friends. They talked about the teeth. The taxes. The cars. "I'm doing much better. I don't know why I have been so upset over all of it." And then, like just-sharpened shears turning the one, lovely piece of vintage seersucker into two, she knew the answer to her own question.

"I think God wanted to make us let go of our money."

The words escaped like a finch; flew to the corner of her mind, then to the corner of her heart, and built a nest.

*I'm sharing this today over at Chatting at the Sky.