My husband and I are celebrating our lucky 13th anniversary this weekend. Our kids are at a sleepover with their grandparents, and we went downtown Chicago. It is beautiful here.
Sunday morning I woke up at 6:00am, like I always do, and after playing on Instagram for awhile, I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. I decided to walk around. We’re staying in the Gold Coast, probably the wealthiest neighborhood in Chicago. You can see the money: fancy cars and all those designer stores people fuss about.
I was wandering around looking at the houses and they range from beautiful to a bit ostentatious.
I love the clean lines of the stone. Or the details on the one below:
Then of course there were the ones that seemed to be trying too hard:
I started to get caught up in the idea that people who live in million(s) dollar homes a block from or ON Lake Shore Drive must have a better life and be happier than I am. They can probably buy whatever they want right? (The fabric! The machines!)
Lucky for me, I’ve heard the research. Only about 10% of happiness has any connection to our external circumstances. If you’re a generally miserable person and you win the lottery, six months later you’ll be back to generally miserable. If you’re a cheerful, content person and loose a leg, six months later you’ll likely be a cheerful, content person.
When I think about, I do poorly with excess and scarcity. When I have too much I start to stop seeing what I have and obsess about more. I also start to internalize our culture’s silly idea that lots of expensive things some how makes me special. As if my significance was some how for sale.
When I don’t have enough, I feel tense and anxious, like I have to constantly be alert. I grew up in a home where money was super tight and I remember feeling the stress of not enough. When I was about three or four a Pizza Hut was built at the end of our street, and I remember thinking to myself, “It doesn’t matter. We can’t afford to eat there anyway.”
I think part of what my fabric fast is to help me recognize enough. My “daily bread” if you will.
As I was reflecting this morning, I remembered a passage from Proverbs (9:7-9):
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.”
So today, surrounded by wealth I will never achieve (and I’m not sure I want), I am striving for gratitude for what I have. And if I’m honest, what I have is pretty great.
Happy Memorial Day. 🇺🇸