Friday, June 24, 2011

Prosperity in Poordom

Being poor is hard.  

Especially when it's something new to learn.  I was blessed to be raised in a home that lacked nothing of need.  But since marrying a PhD student, then having a child, then having a second child, and raising a family of four on...well...basically no income...I've been learning the hard way that it takes great finesse and resourcefulness to learn how to be effectively poor.  It also takes steely resolve and self-control.  It's hard on one's personal pride to not be self-sufficient, and to not be in a position to contribute to society. 

(Disclaimer: I use the word "poor" in the sense of being in the lower end of the "financial well-being" scale in the U.S., according to tax brackets and the federal poverty line.  In a global sense, I know that we are quite well off; we have a roof over our heads, food to eat, and clothes to wear.) 

But...Being poor has some great advantages, I’ve discovered, and here are a few of them: 

  • It forces you to be creative and crafty.  When you don't have, adapt!  I felt so proud the other day when a 6-year-old girl admired how we create things we need but don't have from things we DO have.  And I thought, maybe we're doing something right.
  • It inspires original art—if you can’t afford a beautiful painting, then take an idea and make it yourself, or create your own idea!  The beautiful thing about art is that it's subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  (Art critics, don't jump down my throat!!)  I can't wait to get home and do fun painting projects with the kids. 
  • It forces you to learn new things that you may never have otherwise pursued.  When you can't afford various professional services, you learn a lot of valuable skills.
  • It helps you discover obscure interests that you would only find on the “hidden” pathway of need.  For instance, needing a job helped me discover that I really like accounting--something in college I thought I wouldn't enjoy.  (Too bad I realized it too late!)
  • Having less helps you discover more, to broaden your horizons & try more varieties of things. 
  • It helps you to not become too comfortable in your own little world.  
  • It helps you appreciate nature.  Nature provides great recreation, free of charge.
  • It helps you become savvy, to seek out those free hidden treasures. 
  • It encourages better eating…to a point: It is cheaper to make a meal from scratch, but fresh foods can be expensive.  
  • It pushes you beyond your inhibitions of what you think is possible, or what you think you're capable of.  It helps you realize new depths of inner strength.  
  • It clarifies which things in life are truly important and necessary, and which are for convenience.
  • It encourages--demands--dependance on God for daily needs, and gives opportunity for receiving His amazing care and answers to prayer. 
I still want to live like we're in a higher station; it's a daily struggle, and a fair struggle.  I think it's good to want to improve your station in life, to aspire to live without fear of "how are we going to make it through another month?"  This stage of life is not comfortable.  But it is good.  We’ve never been without the things we truly need...only learned that there are things we think we need because we've become so accustomed to them.  We are struggling, but striving to prosper in the struggle, and take advantage of the rich lessons to be learned.

I know we're not alone in this...What have the rest of you learned from your hardships?


  1. I hope you don't mind me stopping by your blog. Sometimes I check my site stats and like to see all the wonderful things people make or are doing too. I absolutely love each of your posts. You bring in just the right details to make a picture of your life right now. What an adventure!

    I did a study abroad in college, based in Jerusalem, but traveled throughout the region, including Jordan. I was also a teaching assistant for an Arab linguist where I worked with several Jordanians. My stepsister lives in Kuwait. Anyway, my point is that I appreciate and identify with your posts on many levels. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thanks for your comment! I am thrilled to have anyone read my blog, and also always thrilled to meet other people with a Middle Eastern connection. I would love to hear more about your experiences!