Monday, June 25, 2012

Because I Want It

Being content is no easy task in this world, where we are bombarded with images and advertising all reminding us that what we have is not good enough, and shouting at us that we will never be happy without more, bigger, better stuff.  Wow, did we almost succumb today!

We have car issues.  Not serious ones, but very high mileage on every car we own means we need to think about what our next vehicular step is.  Further complicating things is that we live in an area where we are far away from any other town or city, meaning we drive a lot more than most people do, and we regularly drive in areas that have no services for miles and miles.  This forces us to think more about the condition our cars are in, because as you all know, very often I am driving alone with the kids in tow waaaay out in the middle of nowhere.

We had an incredibly generous offer cross our plate yesterday, that felt like it might just solve our longer term car issues.  It was one of those "steal of a deal" situations, which thanks to the kindness of friends could have been perfect for us with not just one vehicle, but perhaps even two. we wanted it to work out!  We almost jumped immediately, but then stopped ourselves and gave ourselves time to think it through, promising an answer last night.  We called my mom to run the possible plan by her, just to get her take on it as she is wise in many things when it comes to careful spending, and she said it sounded like it might be a good idea.  Because Kenny and Angela were home, we sat down with them to talk it through, asking their opinion.  We prayed about it, we researched, we counted costs...and then we ultimately decided to decline despite really, really wanting to say yes.  We just couldn't make the numbers add up.

How glad I am we involved the kids!  We have been watching a homemade video series called "Blimey Cow" which was created by a team of two homeschooled brothers who are now in college, and it is our hilarious Monday morning kick off to start our week.  When we first discovered it a efw months back, we watched this video clip which had us all talking afterward and reinforced what we have been trying to teach...and have to work at daily to keep fresh in our own minds as adults.  Here, check it out:

How they are growing in their ability to see the many facets of decision making!  One thing that turned the tide?  Angela weighing it out verbally saying "Well, even if our van needs work and has a lot of miles on it, wouldn't it still be a lot cheaper than borrowing to get a newer one?"  This from a girl who two years ago stood in a store in Kazakhstan trying to purchase items for a going away party for her friends and was absolutely clueless about money, its value, or how to spend it.  She was completely lost about how to spend $30, and today she carefully weighed how to spend thousands...or how NOT to spend thousands.

Man, it happens so quickly!  Desire for something a little better can cloud our judgment, causing us to look at what we have with growing discontent rather than appreciation.  How easy it is to covet what others have, instead of saying "thanks" for what we do have!

It wasn't that it was a silly thing to consider, because it actually wasn't.  Maybe that made it even harder. Sometimes there is a fine line between necessity and desire.  The truth is, we are outgrowing the mini-van, but can't figure out how to replace it with anything we can afford to drive.  It also has 150,000 miles while our other mini-van has 225, it is not at all an outrageous thing to think about replacing a vehicle or even both of them with vehicles with lower mileage.

But that age old question must be answered "Is it a want, or is it a need?", and I guess God made it clear that at least at this stage, it was more of a want than a need.

I want, though.  I really want.   We all do.  As we talked it through and played with numbers though, it wasn't even about what we could do, it was more about what we were willing to do...and do order to fulfill this particular "want".  It was a difficult "no" to come to.

Temptation is one of the hardest things to fight, and sometimes we fail.  Yesterday, we won the fight, but only after battling ourselves all day about it.  It can be very difficult to discern what is wise and unwise when it comes to spending money on larger items.  It was sort of like the question we had about our what point does it cease to be worth it to plow more money into an older or worn out item?  At what stage is it smarter to replace rather than repair?  Are we being honest with ourselves about our needs versus our wants?

Taking the time to really pray about such decisions, seeking wise council, sitting with it awhile, and analyzing it from every possible angle can really help.  Being willing to deny yourself is the biggest help.  After all, will my life really prove to be that much better if I don't have a newer van, as long as mine is still performing well?  No, I will not be any happier.  Will it kill us to wait awhile longer and try to keep our debt to a minimum by saving part or all of what we'll need for another purchase?  I hardly doubt it.  Could we justify making a terrific deal on one or two slightly newer vehicles?  Sure we could, but do I really want to feel I am justifying such a purchase? Nope...and that might just be the key right there...if you have to justify a purchase to yourself, look at it twice because that is a signal that you might want to pay attention to.  You tend to not have to justify a needs based purchase.

The time spent contemplating this today was time well spent.  As I shared with our friend, keeping priorities in order is never time wasted, and I am glad we had the experience we had today because it made us think again about several factors and what we really value.  I'm also glad we are blessed with friends who care enough to think of us when it comes to something like this, and who will not feel "put out" should we examine it and come to the conclusion we did.  that sort of maturity is often rare to find in this world when it comes to friendship.

The internal battle continues to wage, and probably always will.  I could make a list a mile long of my personal "wants" iPad, a harp, a rockin' 12 passenger van with a lifetime supply of gasoline :-)  But what are my needs, and are they being met? And more importantly, if they ARE being met, why do I need anything else?

I don't, and today I needed to remind myself of that.  The day will come when this really moves into the "need" category, but for now it is firmly in the "want" category and shall remain there for the near future (at least we sure hope so! Haha!).  Being pro-active is important, for sure, but being realistic is just as important.

We thanked the kids for helping us talk this out, and apologized for it being so boring.  Angela said "Actually mom, it is not boring at all, this is something we need to learn and it is interesting to think of all the sides to it.  It's fun to talk about grown up things!"  I am glad they are getting practice while it is "fun", because one day it will move from "fun" to "difficult", but by then, if we provide them with such experiences now it'll be far easier and hopefully they will make much wiser decisions as young adults.

Maybe I'll go muck out the van today and smile as I do so, knowing I am lucky to have something that runs so well...even if it often smells inside of stale sneakers and old french fries!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I sure can relate to this internal battle! Our 2 vehicles that are still working are both high mileage (one is 200,000 +, the other is 300,000 +). They both still work ok (so far, just minor problems as long as we keep up regular maintenance), but neither makes great gas mileage. We also live a good distance from any cities, so both dependability and gas mileage play a big role. But we really don't want to have to go into debt for a vehicle, and we're still paying off our house, ... . Anyhow, thanks for the post -- good to know we're not the only ones with these "mundane" problems! :-)