The concept of enough has been addressed by others but I wanted to take my crack at it. I have had a six figure income. I have also experienced paralysis and cognitive impairment which was thought to be permanent while being the sole source of support for a good sized family. My perspective of normal economic means has been severely and suddenly altered several times.
I do realize that I’ve never experienced anything like third world poverty. My oldest son spent some time in Haiti where people sometimes have to make and eat dirt cakes just to have something in their belly. Therefore, I approach this topic with a limited perspective. But then, almost all of us are limited in perspective on a great many things. A dose of humility is, therefore, always wise when speaking to pretty much anything.
The concept of “enough” is vague and relative anyway. We humans are a restless lot when it comes to material possessions and I expect that a great deal of our angst can be tempered by coming to grips with this concept.
There is no shame in asking for our daily bread. After all, it’s part of the Lord’s Prayer. Our shame, which we seldom seem to have, might be better left for our ungratefulness for what we do have or, perhaps, in our lack of faith that Jesus meant what he said when he told us that our Heavenly Father loved us and that we need not worry about our needs. My focus in this reflection, however, is not about our needs. Rather, it is about our relative happiness and how we set that bar.
I think one of the greatest difficulties humans have is with contentment. We seem to never be content with what we have. We fight wars over having enough oil to drive large enough SUVs to tow monstrous boats to our “cabins” on the lake a few weekends each summer. Wealthy investors develop pyramid schemes in order to bilk other rich people out of their riches. Televangelists do the same thing to the poor so that the saintly dog can have an air conditioned dog house. When we are not actually killing people or stealing from them, we still seek ways to get ahead because, well, I guess we’re not ahead enough. The existing television is never as good as the new one in the store. The car we have may be all right but we really deserve a newer one because we can plug our iPods into it. Speaking of the Apple products, I wonder if they’ll come out with a new iPad soon because this one I’m typing on…well, it’s a whole year old, and…well…
You get the idea. We humans never have enough even though most of us lack for nothing. I suppose we could chalk it all up to a restless and rebellious human spirit. Greed is an infamous, yet sneaky vice. Maybe it’s our pride which is at stake. After all, if someone has a mansion, shouldn’t I have two? Maybe we could pinpoint fear as a culprit? Perhaps we are driven by a sense of fear that puts us ever in accumulation mode lest we someday find ourselves without an adequate supply of blue jeans. Checked your closet lately?
Each of these vices would make a fine culprit alone and together they probably provide good enough reason for me to leave this topic alone. Yet I’m still fascinated by it, especially for the Christian who has been told not to worry about material things. I know the right answer, at least for a Christian, is to take Jesus at his word and stop worrying about material possessions. However, this seems to be something that is easy to say but hard to do so I propose a different way of looking at what we have. It’s certainly not an original thought but I think it’s largely a forgotten one.
Perhaps I shouldn’t just ask God to meet my daily needs so that I can just squeak by. Maybe I should ask for a bit more so that I have “enough”. But the key, I think, is then to regard what I do have as “enough”. In other words, enough is not defined by me. What if my non iPod compatible vehicle is enough right now? Someday, I’ll need to replace it and maybe the next vehicle happens to have such a feature. What if my pantry and refrigerator, which are presently stuffed full of food, have more than enough for my family to eat for the foreseeable future? What if a day spent hunting pheasants locally is good enough as opposed to driving a long distance to hunt the same bird in similar numbers?
Another way to put it is to practice an old fashioned concept. Namely, being thankful for what I have and enjoying it. A funny thing happens when we start looking at what we have rather than what we lack. It’s almost as if the scales fall off the eyes as the relative abundance becomes evident. The possibilities for enjoyment of what we have seem to grow as well.
Thus, today I think I will ask for my daily bread, plus just enough more to have some fun. Most importantly, though, I will ask for a thankful heart for having “enough”.
Copyright 2015 Daniel Blake