Going to college as a married student isn’t as easy as one would think. Sure, I have the support and adoration of a wife and daughter to remind me of why I am here. But the struggles that result from our situation isn’t what one would call easy. It has been a blessing in many ways as it has forced us to examine what is really a need and what is a want, but the struggle, as the kids might say, is real.
Times like these prove difficult in many aspects because jealousy and envy can creep in and before you know it, your attitude of gratitude has been robbed from you. This is something that has been a constant struggle for my wife and I. On a small campus with young students, most of our friends are young with the disposable income that you have at 20. And this is where the struggle begins.
You see, having a child is a blessing. Nothing fills my heart with more joy than walking in the door and hearing “PAPA BEAR” screamed at me as a 2’ 10” ball of energy runs at me with outstretched arms. You can’t put a price on the late night snuggles while watching Princess Sophia. But it is easy to try when you’re lying awake at night worrying about how you’re going to balance your budget because, unlike Congress, you cannot raise your debt ceiling.
This may sound bad but for millions of Americans, this is the struggle. How can I provide for my family? I want my child to be happy but I just can’t afford it. And then you see the people that you are around buying $25 fidget spinners and spending more money on shoes than you have on electricity for the last month and you can’t help but think “If only I had their income.” And that is when the jealousy begins to creep in.
This has taught me three lessons. Three revelations that brought me back to reality and made me realize just how rich I am. I may not have the money to take my daughter to the zoo but I get to run around every night and act like a Bear while growling at Baby Bear.
- QUIT COMPARING! This is easier said than done, I realize, but just hear me out. One night when I was having my financial pity party and was worrying myself about finances I saw something that punched me right in the gut. I was on Facebook and saw an image that was shared regarding infant loss and infertility. This image was shared by someone that I had gone to high school with that had done VERY well for themselves. Yes, I was jealous of their lifestyle, but as I laid there reading the caption to the image that she had shared I realize that, while I was jealous of their life, they were jealous of mine.
It is so easy to get caught up in what you don’t have that you forget what you do. You get so worried and scared about what you cannot provide your family that you forget to give them what you can: your time. Because even though you may be in the room with them, staring at your phone and wishing that you had a better lifestyle doesn’t show them the love that you have. Rolling around on the ground or coloring your sidewalk shows more love to a two year old than trips to the zoo. When it comes down to it, the time spent dancing with your daughter will mean way more than what you bought her.
- BE CONTENT!– This is simple but we make this out to be 100x more difficult than it is. Yeah, sure, I get it. There is a new game/movie/car/gun/whatever out that you absolutely have to have right now. But here’s the thing, champ: when your focus is on what you want rather than what you have then you are saying to God that you are not grateful for the blessings that He has given you. One of the most misquoted and misapplied bible verses speaks directly to this topic.
I am able to do all things through him[d] who strengthens me.
To gain the full context of this verse we need to look at verses 11 and 12, which states:
I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. 12 I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.
And you thought this was just about your football game. Look, Jesus doesn’t care about your fantasy football league. But that’s another post for another time. Anyways, this Scripture isn’t talking about what we can and cannot do but rather it is telling us that in Christ, we should find our contentment and joy. And much like Paul, we should do likewise. Because at the end of the day, it wasn’t our 401(k) or our dream car that hung on the cross but Christ. And it is in Him that we should find our joy.
- LOVE YOUR FAMILY NOW! Get off of your phone. Put down your book and turn off Netflix. Your kids are growing up before your very eyes. Show them that you care. Your kids are your legacy so invest in them now. Play with them, hold them, love them and show them that you care. Hold your wife. Do the dishes. Take her out on dates. Love your family now and invest your time into them now.
Stop worrying about what you cannot give them and start giving them what you can. Your time, love, energy. Kiss your kids goodnight and love your wife in such a way that it reflects how Christ loves the church. Your kids will see that and reflect that. Guard your house and home from the sin of envy. Because it creeps in quicker than you think.