As a mother I always worry about what people my children hang out with. Will they espouse the same values and morals that we do? Will they encourage them to step away from their faith? Will they treat them like a prize instead of the priceless treasure they truly are?
I suppose I worry a lot about this because I see what our society pushes upon all of us and I see that it could be easy to begin to embrace the idea that things are important and that people are not; that the more we have the better we are and the happier we will be. I worry that the ways of the world will become my children’s ways… and I know there is so much more to life than that.
Chapter 18: Jesus on Lifestyle
Matthew Kelly points out in the first line of this chapter that people are made to be loved and things are meant to be used but that often we see just the opposite happening. When teaching our children the true values in life, sometimes it’s difficult to have our voice heard above the roar of the world. The world is ready to step in to tell all of us that we need more, we need better, and we need it now or we can’t be happy. When you are bombarded with that message it’s easy to get sucked into the thought process that those who have less must be less happy or less successful and that those who have more are better off and of course are much happier. Like Matthew Kelly says, we value some people more than others based simply on what they have.
But we have to step away from this thought because where has thinking like this gotten us? It’s created a society that is never truly happy. We see that those who constantly want more will never have enough. Once the newness of whatever they bought wears off then they will need something else to make them happy. It’s a never-ending cycle. It’s only once we realize that true happiness doesn’t come from a store or from things but simply from cherishing people and loving those whom God puts in our lives that we become truly happy.
Often the happiest, most joyful people are the poorest ones around.
Point to Ponder: You need to work on your attitudes towards money, things, and people.
There is one line in this chapter that stands out to me the most. It reads, “Everything belongs to God.” At this moment Matthew Kelly is speaking of money and how to have a healthy relationship, but for me this is an important reminder to remember that all that we have, not just our “things” and our money, comes from God. If we remember this then it is easier to be thankful for all our blessings. It can help us to live our lives in a way that honors God and others in all that we do. It will help us be more giving, more aware of our impact on the earth and our community, and on how we treat those whom God loves so much (and whom we are called to love!).
I love that Mother Teresa is quoted in this chapter saying, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” When we begin to see how we impact the world and we choose to love people instead of things, it brings new life not only to us but to everyone else as well.
Verse to Live: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Matthew 6:19-20
For me this is a pretty easy verse to live, not because I am so much more disciplined than others, but because I have to. We can’t afford to have lots of extras and we can’t afford to play “Keeping up with the Joneses”. I suppose we could if we changed our lifestyle and I went to work and put all the kids in school. But we don’t feel like God is calling us to that life. Instead, we know we have to sacrifice much in order to be able to give our kids a lifestyle that has less “things” but perhaps more treasure and riches than our world could ever give them. I know there are ways we could still do better though and I am working to incorporate ways into our lives to live this as fully as possible.
Question to Consider: What is one practical way you can live this teaching in the coming week?
I think for me, especially after the trials of this past week, it’s good for me to remember that listening to God and living the way He calls me to live is more important than any other calling in this world. I think I need to try harder to be the mother and wife He asks me to be. There are many ways I fail at this and I know there are many ways I could be doing better. I spoke last night about wanting to get up earlier each day so that I could start my day quietly with God instead of with screams of “he’s looking at me!” and cries that someone ate the last of the “good cereal”. If I started out my day in quiet reflection I believe I would be a better mother and wife and thus could appreciate the treasures God has blessed me with so much more!
Your Turn: Do you value things over people? If you do, how can you change this attitude? Is it hard for you to live simply? What is high on your priority list? Work? Home? Children? Success? What should be the highest on your priority list?
Prayer: Jesus, please rearrange my priorities. Help me to live a little bit more like you each day. Amen.