I can’t stop thinking about Lehia’s post some time ago. It was about ‘chasing after money’. I wasn’t exactly a believer when I first read it and the few times since, I’ve read it through different lenses. The first time I read it, it definitely struck something in me. But I still can’t put a finger on it. I’ve always been ashamed of the want of money, careful to tell myself that money isn’t everything (of course). Mostly, I’ve always ‘known’ that I won’t be rich because I simply do not have the will or stamina to pursue wealth. I like the things money can buy the way a shopaholic does. I like to buy books and clothes and shoes and food and trips overseas. And it saddens me that I will be looking forward to a life of economic restraint. I hated to admit this because in my opinion, want of money is shallow.
However, I liked the way Lehia put it. She separates morality from money in a very sensible way. And it makes sense. Money is neutral. Greed for money depraves you. In my supposed moral high ground, which was a misguided position borne out of spiritual snobbery, I used to mix the pursuit of money with, inevitably, materialism and a disregard for the deeper things in life. I was never taught the importance of financial freedom and how it in fact frees us to pursue the greater things in life, IF we know how to lord over money rather than let it control us. Maybe I was like Aesop’s fox, sniffing at the grapes I could not reach. I could not see that my ignorance made me the shallow one.
Now I can.
Today, I am not ashamed to admit that I want money. And I want it early (not fast!). I want the money to come before my parents are too old to enjoy it. I want the money for them to enjoy everything they could not enjoy when they were younger because they too were ignorant of the importance of wealth and did not strive for it. I want the empowerment that comes with money so that I do not need to sign my life over to an employer who does not deserve to hold me in subjugation. I am a child of God, liberated and free from bondage, I should not have to answer to any other. Money is my means, it is not my end. I will strive for it with my morals intact and my backbone sturdy because it is meant to be used, not followed.
Today I truly understand George Bernard Shaw when he said, “Money is the most important thing in the world. It represents health, strength, honor, generosity and beauty as conspicuously as the want of it represents illness, weakness, disgrace, meanness and ugliness.” I understand the want of money for a quality life rather than the pursuit of money as an end. I understand that it is in fact easier to become fixated on money when you do not have enough of it. And I know where to put my heart while I use the money to provide for my comforts so that I can focus on living rather than surviving.
Okay, I was very long-winded. Unfortunately, I just found my (general) summary: “Do not value money for any more nor any less than its worth; it is a good servant but a bad master.” -Alexandre Dumas fils, Camille, 1852. And I don’t know if I’ve explained myself accurately. Yikes.