Big realization of the last week(s):
It’s not about you. (probably)
..It all started or came into fruition during a conversation with my mother over breakfast. These are one of the favorite parts of my rare day’s off. My mother is an early riser and can usually be found in the kitchen listening to Nigerian worship music whipping up something savory for the family to eat or enjoying a cup of coffee while poring over her morning devotion. I’m the other early riser in the house and so I’ll usually meet her while getting ready to head to the gym or running some errand that requires me to be up and about.
Usually these conversations touch on a familiar array of topics. God, family, When I’m going to get married, finances, and any other recent revelations either of us has experienced. On this particular occasion we happened to discuss money.
So..Money. Me and money have a interesting history.
First, our backstory: I was born to first-generation African parents who came to this country with 1 child (me) and Nigerian work ethic, a smattering of siblings scattered across the southern/western states and a desire for a better life. So needless to say, I had a front row seat to my parents growth from a 2 bedroom apartment on Memorial drive to a much nicer house in the suburbs. However, some of my formative years were spent watching my mom fly financially by the seat-of-her-pants and God’s grace. As a result, there were of course some opportunities that I felt I missed. This gives me a bent toward looking toward money as my security. Which, from what I observe is a common American phenomenon. However, as I struggle to get know God and myself better- I’m realizing (over and over) that Money can’t be my security- it’s not dependable enough. It comes and goes. Courts and politicians can take it away with a squiggle of the pen, illness can steal it, A boss’s ire can strip it away for months. However, making the mental switch from money being priority #1 to God being #1 takes intentional effort and if i’m not careful the love of money is insidious and will stage a coup d’etat in my heart to regain it’s #1 spot.
My current situation: Today I make more money than I’ve made for most of my life. So there is a constant temptation (Which I often I give in to) to put my list of priorities (if I’m honest) in the following order: 1. Work 2. Investments/Creating financial freedom 3. God 4. Family. I have a bad case on most days of prioritizing the gifts over The Giver.
Back to Mom: Somehow we started to discuss money and I bemoaned our family’s seeming inability to gather enough money to cover all our debts/needs/wants. She promptly reminded me of a couple things, and let me in on a secret that I’ve heard before but I guess one that I was finally ripe to internalize. “Your being financially blessed – Its not about you.” Which, can be taken one of two ways. As an insult: “you mean, i’m not as a smart, disciplined, and good-looking as I like to think? My money isn’t a result of God loving me MORE than others?” or as lifting of a burden: “You mean, God might have had a bigger purpose than just satisfaction of my personal desires when he blessed me? Whew, I was worried, because honestly who would worship such an arbitrary God.”
Things to consider: What if it’s bigger than you? What if God gave you money, talent, discipline, intelligence to be used for more than just your personal fulfillment? Conversely, what if those with less than you were not intrinsically worth less but rather serve as a mirror for you; how do you respond to those in need? What stories do you make up about the people who look a little less well-off? Are they all drug-addicts? irresponsible? lazy?
Money, cars, clothes, things. They are a means to an end. With the end being God’s relationship with You. Yes, they are nice, but if you are living with them as your yardstick or measurement of worth then you will always feel unfulfilled. Why? Because these things aren’t designed to fill you. They are designed to temporarily satisfy an appetite. But the thing about appetites is ..they can never be fully satisfied. Don’t believe me? Let’s take your appetite for recognition – not a bad thing, but if you were to think back and count up all the times you’ve been recognized/appreciated what would that number look like? All the times your parent’s nodded at you and said good job? All the trophies, medals, hand shakes, pat’s on the back, congratulation emails, likes on Facebook, mentions on twitter, #winning tags? Could you go the rest of your life without any other recognition? Maybe you say?…if your life was only slated to continue another 24 hours. Right! Appetites are temporarily sated. And oftentimes only partially sated.
So where does that leave us?
In a sentence: Seek God – b/c the outer (physical things) are just tools to either move us closer to God or further away.
Fly or Fall.