We are now the proud owners of a bidet.
Yes, one of those fancy toilets. The kind my husband fell in love with when we visited Japan five years ago. We’ve had a few lively discussions over the past about our need for a bidet, but apparently, we need it.
“Think of how much money we’ll save on toilet paper?!” Trent said, when he brought it home. Sigh. It was only $150. (Which I thought was a lot of money until I turned on the heated toilet seat, and then it seemed pretty reasonable.)
I’ve always had a funny relationship with money. When I was young and single, I looked up to St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa, and prayed to God that I would always be poor because I never wanted to worship money.
I still look up to Assisi and Teresa but I also deeply appreciate money, because I have a family now, and I’ve seen the hardships that poverty can cause and I’m not sure why I would pray for it except out of some unrealistic understanding of what it means to be poor.
I am not poor. I know this. I am wealthy compared to 80 percent of the world.
According to North American standards, I grew up in a very poor household. We always lived under the poverty line, yet we never went hungry, we always had a roof over our heads, and we were always clothed and kept warm and dry. And we always had a vehicle, even if it was rusted with broken windows. So, again, compared to 80 percent of the world, I was raised in a wealthy home.
For some reason I equate poverty with spirituality, and in some ways it’s true. The poor do tend to be closer to God. But I think in longing for poverty I worshiped the absence of money. And without money, how can you give materially to the poor?
I am fostering a new relationship with money. I appreciate it, but I also don’t see it as mine. I ask God to bless us, only so that we can bless others. So we can give abundantly.
I am inspired by the story of John Wesley, which David Platt recounts in Radical… Wesley decided, when he was poor, to calculate how much it cost him to live, and then even as he gained wealth, he only spent on himself what he had calculated that he needed. The rest he gave away.
I’m proud of Trent for sticking to his guns and getting his bidet. We aren’t big spenders. We are pretty frugal people, except for the fact that we like to travel.
But in getting his bidet, Trent reminds me that we need to treat ourselves kindly too. Because worship of money can go both ways. We can restrict or spend too much. God says to be cheerful givers. This means sometimes cheerfully letting my husband buy items I don’t deem necessary, because it’s something he really wants. And in the end, his needs are as valuable as my own, and my neighbor’s.
So this Christmas, I’m giving to charities and I’m giving to my family. I can only imagine the look on children’s faces as they open the Operation Christmas Child box my boys packed.
And I get to witness, with my very own eyes, the look on my boys’ faces as they open their own gifts. Why would I pass that up? Generosity starts at home.
I don’t pray to be poor anymore. No, I pray that I can identify with the poor, in that I can feel God-given empathy with them, and respond to their needs in the same way that I respond to my children’s cries. Instantly, without a second thought, because inasmuch as my family is mine to take care of, my neighbor is too.
And I pray that God will grant me the willingness and the strength to give what funds I do have, away, no matter how much nor how little I possess.
(speaking of giving, won’t you? Click here to give a Merry Christmas to a child who otherwise wouldn’t have one, through Compassion’s Christmas Gift Catalog)