This morning, I called my sister. “I need to preface this conversation,” I warned her. “I have the gimmes and I want to wallow for just a minute.”
She replied with “What?”
“The gimme-gimmes,” I said. “You know, where are you comparing yourself to others and it makes you want stuff you can’t have that’s not good for you?”
“Oh! The gimmes,” she said. “I get it. Well then, what do you want?”
“A Mercedes,” I replied without hesitating, and didn’t elaborate, but the rant went on in my mind. Never mind that I’m grateful that my car is paid for, I want a Mercedes. I’m tired of pinching pennies, I’m tired of scraping by, I’m tired of borrowing clothes. And as long as I was on a mental rant, I might as well ask for the moon. I want my hair highlighted, I want my eyelash extensions, I want to spray tan, and I’d like a gym membership. I want to not HAVE to shop at Aldi. I want to be able to pay for my child’s speech therapy. I want to be able to pay for his eye doctors appointments and vision therapy. I want my husband at home, not out working three jobs to make ends meet.
It feels better just to say it, and get it out there. I’m pretty good at counting blessings when the gimme-gimmes hit, but today I just need a moment of flat out, selfish, “I WANT”.
My sister asked me why I wanted a Mercedes. She wanted three reasons, all of which were easy to come by: it would be pretty, it would be fun to drive, and it would smell like a new car.
Then she said, “Let me tell you a story,” and launched into the details. Last week, her husband was driving and saw a guy from our church walking along the side of the road. My brother-in-law/her husband pulled his old, but paid-for, granny-blue Taurus over to the side of the road and picked him up and asked him where he was going. The guy answered that he was walking to work.
My brother-in-law, ever the friendly guy, jovially asked him why he was walking. The guy proceeded to tell my brother-in-law that they had one car, that car had a flat tire, but he didn’t know how to change a flat tire, and that they didn’t have the money for a tire. So he was walking five miles to and from work every day. To provide for his family.
My sister didn’t have to state her point. Her reminder to me was that things can get worse, and that I have a car, that that car is paid for, and that I don’t have to walk to work, and to remember to be grateful for those things.
The good news is, that one thing led to another and our church rallied to take care of this guy and his family. When the whole ordeal was over, my sister asked her husband if he was grateful that he had been driving an old granny-blue Taurus. Yes, he said. It would have been so embarrassing to be driving an expensive car when that guy was walking 5 miles a day to and from work.
My sister ended the conversation by reminding me that the next time I wanted a Mercedes to remember that there were some people who have less. “I know,” I sighed in response. “It’s just been so hard lately. I just wanted to let myself WANT something, and whine about it for just five minutes.”
Her voice softened. “You know what, Whitney? I’m glad you don’t have a Mercedes. I’m glad you’re being frugal. I’m glad you and your husband are willing to work so hard to provide for your kids. All that is encouraging to me and my family. I like you without a Mercedes.”
I started crying. It is gratifying to know that someone loves you for what you are, where you are.
You know what, Internets? I had to ponder on this for a few days, before posting. I hesitated to admit to the world that I could have such a selfish breakdown as the rant above. But the truth is, I don’t want a Mercedes. I want the security that appears to come WITH a Mercedes. If someone is driving an expensive car, then their bills are probably taken care of, their mortgage is probably paid, and they are probably out of debt, right?
The luxuries we see in other people’s lives seem to come with tons of other perks: confidence, security, education, knowledge, wisdom, time. The list goes on and on: the luxuries that we CAN buy seem to represent intangibles that we CAN’T buy. But the reality is, we know that’s not true. And even without a host of little expensive luxuries, I can choose to be confident, I can choose to make wise decisions that lead to security (one of which would NOT be buying a Mercedes), and I can choose to be grateful.