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