I can’t tell you how many times I have given up drinking soda pop. I know it’s the main reason I have extra pounds. I know it has no nutritional value. I’m smart enough to know better. So why do I continue to do it? It’s not even a substance that is considered really addictive. Is it? Just try giving up something you’ve comfortably enjoyed for a very long time.
“If what you’re doing isn’t working, change what you’re doing!” This is a Dr. Phil quote, and a good one. But it doesn’t address the difficulty of making that difficult change for the better.
Change to the “easiest” way or the “sloppy” way isn’t likely to get us the results we desire. The best changes are often hard changes. A famous Opera singer said, “Nothing worth having ever came easily.” This reality does not just apply to talents, but to dieting, education, relationships with others, and so many other ways.
It “feels painful” to disciple ourselves to give up something we want, for that elusive “reward thing” we can’t always see, but know will be “better for us”.
If a car could feel and complaint, I’m sure it would squawk about the sanding, tempering, tuning, and tweaking, but all those things are necessary in the building, repair process and maintence of a fine automobile.
One of the hardest changes I had to make was adapting to
my new marriage to an accountant. I had been married almost 37 years previously. There had been many money-tight times throughout the years of raising children, but all of that was in the past. At the time before my divorce, I was feeling financially comfortable, although not rich. I had not been involved in the family finances in my former marriage. I had a household- budget allowance, plus money of my own from a part time job.
(FACT: No one really wins financially in divorce.) My lifestyle changed dramatically and the part time job I was working, suddenly ended. I wasn’t able to find a job, as I had easily and always found in the past. I was angry and hating life. I wanted to stay mad and “Never go hungry again!”… Just as Scarlet O’Hara had indignantly said it. Staying angry would have been a bad choice for me, with a poor lesson example for my children.
I met Ken. We dated for a year and a half before I married him. We often laugh because he promised my mother that he would never let me go hungry. He keeps that promise. He was and is a wonderful man and an accountant. I had no idea how much that little fact would change life as I had known it. Accountants like to know to the “penny” where the money has been used, a fact I didn’t appreciate completely at the time.
Ken preferred that I didn’t work outside the home. He traveled on business trips a lot, and if I wasn’t working I could travel with him fairly inexpensively, if we were careful with our money. Traveling was a great experience.
My time at home was busy getting to know the new children and grandchildren, and keeping traditions with my own children so they wouldn’t feel forgotten or neglected. Ken took care of our needs, and I learned the difference between real needs and wants. But after a while, the feeling of having to ask for money and account for every little expense made me feel like a child. I asked for a household allowance. I wanted some money that I didn’t have to account for. We decided on an amount. It was much smaller than I had been used to in my past marriage, but it was enough for my needs. For a time, I struggled with the “poor-pitiful me” feeling. I thought of all the things I had to give up, like regular lunches and activities with girlfriends, picking up gifts for the children and grandchildren, or buying ready made dinners because I didn’t feel-like or want to cook.
As time went by, and I quit focusing on the “wishes and wants”, I realized how much better I was feeling, not eating restaurant and ready-made foods. Although, I can’t buy much for the kids or grand kids, but they seem to have fewer expectations of gifts, and if they have a real need, we try to help out when we can. I try to give more of my quality time. We have family potluck parties, play board games and sing around the piano, have talent shows, even camping trips. I’ve also had some fun potluck lunches in my home for friends and girlfriends. I try not to focus on what I had to give up, rather I focus on what I have and how lucky I am to have it. I can’t do it all, but I can do something.
The “pain” of change has brought better value to the things that can’t be purchased.
The time of flamboyant gifts may be over, but life and good things are not over. Cutting down on my expenses has not hurt me, but bought out creativity and thankfulness for the blessing of time and personal relationships with others.
However, it’s time to change again. Now, Ken and I have begun serving a full-time, five day a week, Church Mission while living at home. Once again I’ve had to make changes. This time, once again, it changes the way I use extra money and time! I have to give up (or at least postpone) a lot of free time for myself and personal projects and time I might have spent with family and friends. We have chosen to do this for a year and a half of service to God and others. We will teach and help people searching to find their ancestors at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. So far, the first month of training has been exhausting and thrilling, painful and rewarding, and spiritually expanding. We are working with people who are dedicated and great, all the way through, and also ordinary people, working very hard to be their “best”, and many folks with physical challenges I can barely imagine.
The work is harder and more expensive, not to mention, more time consuming than I expected. I planned to be super-human and write just a little less, but I have decided to write one more article after this one. I will give up writing this column, and say good-bye to all of you. Writing has been something that I’ve really loved, but need to replace with something better. Change for the better, a higher road for me, may feel like pain for a while, but it is really just the stretching of muscles that will make me stronger and more able to leap tall buildings in a single bond. Super human will just have to wait. It’s all good!
I am also so proud of the way my children, friends and grandchildren have chipped in to help. My girls plan the family parties, help me run my businesses and sons, fix broken things. They’re all great! I see many wonderful blessings that will come from choosing hard changes for the better prize!
Big Clue for Life: The best rewards are not money!