You Can’t Have It All But You Can Have Enough

[I wrote this article some time ago. The statistics are a bit old but nothing significant has changed. The underlying principles are still appropriate.]

When my husband and I got married he had a degree plus a steady reliable job. I intended to finish my education when it was feasible and I did. We decided that we would choose the best arrangement for our marriage and family. I would stay home and manage it while he went out to work each day. We have never regretted that choice. It was a conscious decision on our part. We have never lacked anything necessary to a quality lifestyle.

As the years went by, we finally got to a point where we realized our lives were too complicated. Stress was eating its way into our daily routines. Too much stress can manifest itself in many ways including unhappiness,short tempers, or physical problems. We made a conscious decision to simplify our lives. That was about eight years ago and we are still in simplify mode.

Life is not a contest to see who can have the biggest house, the most things, the most prestigious job, or the fanciest car. In the Christian life, God told us to do only a few simple things. Serve Him, love our neighbors, witness to people about the Gospel, and store up treasure in heaven.

Matthew 28: 19, 20 says: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Everything else that we do — working at an occupation or being a spouse or functioning as a parent — is secondary to this command. We work because the Bible says But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel (unbeliever). (I Tim. 5:8) For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, he should not eat. (II Thess. 3:10) The question becomes just how well do we want to work and eat?

The August 1999 issue of Reader’s Digest has an interesting article debunking the myth that Americans need two incomes to live well. A couple kept records of their job related spending as well as time spent preparing for work, commuting, working, and decompressing from the jobs. They found that their hourly wage was a dismal $2.96 with a combined gross income of $46,000 per year.

In the same article, economist W. Michael Cox says the number of hours required to buy goods and services is a “mere fraction of what it was 20, 40, or 90 years ago. Workers’ earnings go much farther than they used to: gas is cheaper (comparatively speaking) than it was 20 years ago, and the costs of consumer electronics and staple foods have dropped. Cars are so reliable that higher sticker prices are offset by lower maintenance costs.” [Note: Even today in 2010, gas is still cheaper in America than in most parts of the world. As you know, the higher prices now have only impacted our lives a little.]

We have become greedy in our quest for “quantity” living. In 1953 the space in the home for the average American was 334 square feet; in 1997 it grew to 748 square feet. The median house was 1100 square feet in 1953 and is now 1975 square feet — Reader’s Digest.

It turns out that the dual career family needs to earn 35% more than a single-income family to meet the same standard of living. Houses are much larger now, families have two or more cars, our homes abound in gadgets and labor saving devices. Is this all necessary to living a quality life? No! Absolutely not!

The bottom line is that you can’t have it all. The good news is that you can have enough by making better choices and changing priorities. I will not waste time on giving you hints on saving money. The bookstores abound with books on this subject so if you want those hints, buy a good book.

Going back to the verse in II Thessalonians, you will notice that it is for the man to provide for his household. What is a woman’s responsibility? The answer is found in Titus 2:3-5:

The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

A woman is to keep the home. Believe me, that is a full time job. I am weary of our culture telling women that they must be out in the work world to be validated as a useful human being. There is no higher calling than loving a husband, loving children and keeping their home a refuge from the world. A woman can keep herself much more chaste, obedient, and spiritual when she remains at home away from the taint of our secular society.

A great deal of the fault of not encouraging women to stay at home falls on the man. He must consciously and frequently reiterate to his wife that what she does there is beyond value. Certainly, you can put no dollar amount on the many things she does on a daily basis. Men, just try a few days of coping at home without her and you will readily agree.

Ladies, you must not complain that your man is not providing enough. Your job is to support him in his work. You do the best you can with what he can provide and trust the Lord to provide the rest when needed. If your relationship with your husband is proper according to God’s plan, you will not lack for anything. The Lord promises to meet our basic daily needs. In fact, He does much more than that. He frequently gives us many of our desires as well.

I read more articles now from the secular world about women and men quitting their regular jobs to spend time at home and raise children. If the world is now coming to see the value of less stressful simple lifestyles with parents taking responsibility for the home and family, then why should we buy into the materialistic myth? “A common theme among one-income families is that life is far less stressful when one partner manages the home. That stress reduction translates into happier, closer-knit marriages as well as better parent-child relationships,” says Andy Dappen in Reader’s Digest.

Over the last year, we have had to get work done around our home. My husband’s current job allows him to work at home and so he has seen first hand the lengthy process of getting a plumber or contractor out to finish a job. I had one plumber who promised to be here on three separate occasions but never showed up. I called another company and while the second plumber was out doing the job, the first one called up and said he could come. I told him it was too late; I had called someone else. I am accustomed to such scenarios because I have been doing it for some 25 years. I accept it as part of life. My husband, who hates inefficiency, found it intolerable. I just told him to relax. I would take care of everything. That’s what he needs, someone to take on those annoying household jobs that would drive him nuts. I certainly could not fill his shoes at work.

We are a team. We each accept our place in the scheme of our house. He works outside the home. He provides the income. I take care of everything else. We both take care of the children. God’s plan is in the scripture for a reason — BECAUSE IT WORKS! Perhaps you should re-evaluate your situation and see if simplification is in order. By the way, ladies, I am the handyman in our home and proud of it. I can nail up shelves and curtain rods and mow the grass just as well as any man and I enjoy it! My husband is thrilled to have me do it!


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