Monday, August 11, 2008

Wants and Needs and a little on John McCain

I told myself that during summer break I would work on my writing everyday. But this last weekend, absolutely nothing came to mind that seemed worth the effort. Well.....I correct that.....there was one thing. But it was political, and I hesitate to write about that whole business. But nothing has come to mind today either, so I guess politics it is.

The whole John McCain thing has been on my mind this weekend. I heard for the first time that around thirty years ago he cheated on his wife, and then left her to marry the younger, prettier, richer Cindy. Apparently the Reagans and Ross Perot knew quite a bit of detail about it; the report I read indicated these folks took a lot of time to forgive him. It's even questionable that Ross has forgiven him at all. During the scandal, McCain's first wife was recovering from a very serious car accident. The story about McCain was, of course, inspired by the report of John Edward's infidelity in the midst of his wife's cancer battle.

I had planned, reluctantly, to vote for McCain. I still will, but with even greater reluctance. Although his service to our country has been inspiring, and worthy of every respect, I haven't ever gotten a sense that he has any spiritual maturity. That's something I really like to see in a candidate. I admire his grit in crossing party lines when he feels it is necessary, but I question his dedication to socially-conservative policies.

I think Obama can and will lead our country faithfully and skillfully on issues of racial healing and understanding; that kind of leadership and inspiration is badly needed. But I just can't vote for him for president. Much too liberal for me - especially on social issues.

So I'm left with voting for a man who is allegedly a dirt bag. Of course, it could be that his first wife cheated first - who knows. But I just can't stand a cheating man (or woman), whatever the circumstances. The world's view of what makes a man successful is far from mine. Bill Clinton is deeply admired by the millions for many reasons. To me, he is/was just another dirt bag.

My husband is a man I admire very much, although in the world's eyes, he is quite unsuccessful. No money, no power, no upward mobility, no particular entrepreneurial or other talent. But he treats his wife and children with the utmost grace, self-sacrifice, and Christ-like manner, 90% of the time. He devotes his whole life to us, forsaking other interests and pursuits. My family may not agree with me; they don't think a school custodian has any bragging rights. But the Bible doesn't say a man has to support his family in grand style. It merely indicates that he must support them. I think much of his success as a husband and father comes from the fact that he isn't pursuing the almighty dollar, to the extent that many American men are driven, or encouraged to do.

Both Don and I grew up in families that barely made it financially. My step-dad and mom allowed us to live a little bit outside our means. I believe they always kept a balance on their credit card and had very little in savings. My real dad went into and out of wealth as a real estate broker/developer, after retiring from the Air Force. But I never lived with him after I was three years old, until my twenties; his sometimes-wealth didn't influence me very much.

In contrast, Don's Dad made sure that his family lived within its means - even forsaking tea as a treat for Don's mother. As well, his dad always kept a lot of money in the bank, and still does, even as a retired 86 year old. He eats a lot of beans or whatever else it takes to live frugally. He's healthy as an ox, I might add, save for some arthritis and a recent broken hip (from which he has recovered wonderfully).

Neither Don or his sister inherited their Dad's innate frugality, although, in today's economy, I'm sure they both sometimes wish they'd had. They are both more like their mother. Seems like some people are born savers, some born spenders. The challenge for the saver is to learn to be generous, when circumstances dictate. And the challenge for the spender is to learn to distinguish wants and needs.

I think as Americans we can easily grow up with a sense of entitlement. Not in the sense that we think our social system should take care of us, but more in the sense that we are, as a society or as individuals, above living poorly. Despite what Joel Olsteen would have people believe, the Bible does not promise riches. After all, God allows many millions of people the world over to live without even enough food. We Americans are nothing special, in God's eyes. In fact, our waste and spoiled behavior is quite disgusting to him, I'm sure.

We currently have to go about eight days on only $60, so this topic is one that has really hit home for me recently. My original plan was to practice writing for several years, and then attempt to sell articles to magazines. Then, in my sixties or so, when the children had gone, I would start working on a book. Since I mostly feel inspired to write about God, I am probably limited to Christian publications. Our financial situation is precarious, so I am wondering now if God is trying to tell me to just jump in and see how he blesses? Don is looking for extra work, but the economy is very slow.

We are still able to eat well. All legitimate needs are provided for. It's just that we're being stretched in how we view wants and needs. What can seem like a legitimate need is often a well-disguised, well-rationalized want. The distinction is not as easy as one might think. I'm finding that it takes practice, and dedication to the notion that we are not entitled to plenty. Being challenged in this way is worthwhile; it's really a blessing. We certainly wouldn't challenge ourselves to this extent. God has a purpose for it, and it will be revealed at the proper time.

But for now, I am left with wondering if he wants me to jump into the writing? It that the message? We've never quite been this poor before. The rising gas and food prices are squeezing everyone. We are not alone in our plight, certainly.

What I think I will do is check a book out of the library on writing query letters, or on getting started as a writer, and see where it takes me. School is starting very soon, so I won't have much reading time, but I feel I must take this step right now. I have a particular story in mind that I know is worth publishing. I can't get it out of my mind, really. I will pitch it to Guideposts, after I learn how "pitching" is done. LOL

Hope you all had a good, blessed weekend! It has cooled down here, to the pleasant and breezy seventies. Amen to that.

1 comment:

Fern said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a school custodian! Serving people, particularly children, can be humbling work but that earns an honored spot in God's kingdom, according to what I learned in Sunday School.

Email me at, if you have a minute. I have a bit of writing information.