This is part two of a money series. These are the tips I live by in order to survive financially in the world.
I was born in America. I grew up in America. I am American. The values of this land have seeped deeply into my blood. This has been both good and bad. For this land has values that are beautiful and worth emulating. This land also has values that are damning. An example of the latter is our love for the cowboy. America is the land of the individual. In our stories, in our films, in our music, there is this value that is very Me-centric. It has been this way for generations. From Frank Sinatra to Bon Jovi, we sing about doing things “My Way."
Now, this sounds awesome. Me vs. the world. Doing my own thing. Standing up with the help of no one. The idea of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps sounds romantic. But it is seldom true. The fact is, most success stories have moments of grace, moments where someone opens a door or gives a loan or makes an introduction. And many of our heroic stories have people behind the scenes who invested love, time, money for the hero in the limelight to run ahead. In my own story, I am sometimes tempted to color the story as though I did it all myself. But it ain't true. Behind me is a mother who loved me and protected me. There is a church in Waterford that took me under its wing and sent me off to college. There are professors who found me when I was giving up and made sure I didn’t fall of the edge of the world.
I say all this to say this: going alone is dumb. It is crazy how many people try to make their story look awful so that they can brag about overcoming unbelievable odds. I have read so many stories by gurus and billionaires that talk about having nothing and standing up. But if you dig a little, you see that they had so much. They had a nest egg from their father. They had built a network under someone else’s umbrella that they just moved over. They talk all this independence, but they were part of a family.
When I think about financial security, I do not look to the government. I don’t look to a stranger or a social program. Forget that noise. I am a person among people. And the crew I run with, we take care of our own. I run in a few different crews. I have my blood family. When I swung for the fences early in marriage and lost my shirt, I lived in a room at my in-laws’ for six months. That happens, and having a loving net is better than any shelter. I also have good friends. These are people whom I have loved deeply and they love me deeply in return. I know that I could call them today and they would be here in the morning with help. When I chose exile a few years ago, I called my boys from across the country to help me put on a roof so I could sell my house. And they came. I also have a family called the Church. I know people talk trash on the church. Like any other relationship, this can be messy. But I believe in Jesus, and there is no other place to be a Christian. And in my life, God’s church have had my back. I have brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are on mission together. And we take care of each other. When I have had money and strength, I have watched out for those struggling. And when I have had need, the Church of God has watched out for me. An example: A season ago, a family I love had a need for a vehicle. So I gave them my 2nd vehicle. The blessing flows. And just this week, as I was standing in the aftermath of buying a true lemon of a car, a brother in Christ called me and gave me his 2nd vehicle. The wheel turns. The love flows. Those who have need are provided for. And those who have give generously.
I know this sounds like hippie nonsense. How does this actually work? Is it fair? What if I give a bunch to people and they give nothing in return? What if I don’t have any peoples? How do I find a crew? I would simply say this. I am a firm believer in being a part of a crew and committing to loving them long haul. Also, it is my goal to be the most generous person in any crew I run with. This is something I also learned from Jesus. Ask my wife, and she will laugh at how nothing in our lives is off limits to give away. We love the family. We don’t worry about getting anything in return. I don’t give to get. That is just…. mercenary. Counting up the dollars and feeling like people owe you… that is a small way to live. And people doing this tend to overthink what they give and underestimate how much they have been given. Stop all this victim you-owe-me crap. No one owes you nothing. All is gift.
I love my peoples. I enjoy my peoples. We eat together, laugh together, live together. And it builds a life that can take a hit. Cause we are not alone. And that is awesome.