Paul said, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” He said this before the more famous verse, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12,13
It seems to me that being able to be poor as well as rich is all that Paul is talking about here, not achievements or projects.
What I am hoping to ponder here is “how to be poor”. Our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and even our mothers had this down pretty good. However, from our “I, me, mine, self-esteem” generation and younger, we don’t have a clue how to be poor. Sure, there are those who are better than others, but as a whole, the poor in today’s society don’t know how to be poor.
What do I mean? First of all, there is no shame in being poor. I suppose the older two generations I mentioned in the paragraph above were among many poor. When a generation of people are all poor together, we at least have company.
If you find yourself poor, here are some “don’ts” that I have actually witnessed, and shamefully confess, have been guilty of doing. Don’t:
- continue to pay for cable or satellite – disconnect! Do not listen to their many offers.
- continue to pay for newspaper
- eat out
- buy steaks
- dye your hair or get a perm
- buy games or other assorted toys
Examples of not knowing how to be poor:
The other day, I gave a girl $30.00 who had lost everything in a fire and had two little preschool boys, and another one on the way. Daddy, an occasional live-in boyfriend did some, but very little to help the situation with the children. I met this young woman at a convenience store to give her the money, and noticed the lottery tickets being sold inside. Knowing that it might be a temptation to buy them, I told her this was NOT to buy lottery tickets. She said, “O no, I’m going to get minutes for my phone.” Here’s a girl who has lost everything, with two little boys and needing help to get by, but doesn’t know HOW to be poor.
The church where I attended several years ago helped a family who was in need. She was a friend of mine, and she comes to my house having bought a wig and other halloween garb to have a little fun on halloween! No new shirts for her boys, no shampoo or new underclothes, etc, but a $16 halloween piece of junk for Mom for one night!
A good Christian couple felt compassion on a poor couple and gave them some money for food. Instead, they bought an air gun and targets. The givng couple had a marvelous attitude: “What we give is between us and God, what they do with it is between them and God.”
Some “do’s” on how to be poor:
- Take pride in your appearance.
- Guard your health without costly doctors – eat right, exercise, wash your hands – all the common sense advice you already know.
- Grow a garden if possible.
- If you have access to a stove, cook dried beans regularly.
- Prepare from scratch all that you can.
- If you have to live in your car, go to service stations to wash up. Switching stations might be the best idea, though, if you don’t want to be under suspicion.
- Continue to look for work. Accepting help for the long term will not get you out of poverty.
- Be thrilled at small things. Create a happy environment. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Never has, never will. Although, I do admit, it does buy relief from some worries which is a happy thing.
- Post ads in the post office that you will work odd jobs. If you don’t have a phone, this is where you might have to ask a favor of a friend.
- Last and certainly not least, live clean. Spiritually clean, I mean. Prison time robs future jobs. Fornication brings mouths to feed and ex-boy/girl friends that will demand money. Bad addictions from soda pop to meth robs money and health, which also robs money.
I’ve had enough money, but I’ve also had notices come in the mail. My husband and I have been advised many times to file for bankruptcy, but we were determined not to go that route. As a result, we are making a huge sacrifice while he is far away, but making good money so we can get out of horrendous debt. It’s not good for Dad to be away from his family, but we hope it will only be for just a little while longer.
Sharon, with Martha