Some people are called to voluntary poverty, no doubt about it. And they live it beautifully, and they are confident of their calling, and they might want nice things, but they follow God's leading and live on less than most of us.
I live in poverty. Just barely, and only according to a number set by the US government. Really, I have plenty of money for all I need and some left over. So my issue lately hasn't been "Am I called to voluntary poverty (not really a relevant question)?" but "What do I do with the "wiggle room" in my budget?"
Nice things are nice. Soooo nice. Like cognac-colored boots. Want them! And a nice new bicycle to ride around the metro area. Would be so nice! And I want to backpack Europe. So that would mean a nice framepack as well. And a good-quality new sleeping bag. So the list goes on.
But there are so many ways that I can use my money. A missionary living in a tiny village in Bolivia has to raise money in case she needs to airlift one of the townspeople out. A family is moving and needs some extra cash. Close friends have birthdays. A friend goes on a short-term trip. Kids in my neighborhood need clothes for school.
My tendency is to swing from one extreme to the other. One month of big spending, feel guilt, one month of more giving, ignore things that I need, repeat cycle. I think what I need at this point in my life is some balance. I need to follow God's leading when He is telling me to be generous, but I also have to be able to look professional at work, which might mean new shoes or a cardigan.
This is something I've been thinking about for several years, and I've even blogged about it before:
- Simplicity vs Christmas Spirit
-The Weak and Fatherless
- Urbana Thoughts: Working in Poverty
I don't claim to have the answers, but I'll keep writing about this as I live in Phillips and make ends meet.