Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Assigning Value

Eug and I live in a little house, and our lives are affordable enough that we can each spend just a few hours on paid work each day. We spend a lot of time with our children and, rather remarkably, recently found that we have time to clean the house. There is no real reason not to invest time and energy into being brave with our vocations. We live pretty modestly for this very reason. We are in this lucky place where our lives need not center on money.
One of the first things in our house that is just there for beauty (that top shelf). The crates are how much fruit and vegetables we consume every week. 
But I still constantly turn to money as a way of measuring value, and it's hard to get away from the fear that there may not be enough, or that we won't get our "fair share"- fair pay, fair recognition, a fair assessment of my dissertation so that I can move forward somehow.  

As I try to follow Jesus, I want to learn what it means to hold money loosely, but also how to assign value without thinking of money first. On the frugal-minimalist-sustainable spectrum, I tend to be frugal first. My first gut question when Eug started making beer was "is it cheaper than buying it?", even though we've never bought beer in our lives, so the question is largely irrelevant.

We keep on adding shelves, and I seem to have begun a love affair with glass jars. Who knows how it will end.
I have a similar reaction to a lot of things, and struggle to separate my worth from my earning power.  After all, it's our cheapness that allows us this kind of life in the first place, right? Well, yes and no. One of the most influential books when Eug and I were paying off debt was "Your Money or Your Life", which equates money spent with the real number of hours required to earn that money. But thinking about spending in these terms, particularly after getting free from debt, can be a dangerous source of pride or inadequacy if it's used too simplistically. Money is a blunt tool that fails to take into account the nuances of our real needs in community and in family. It is a fickle source of security.

I'm keen for my goals to be about adding value without necessarily having that value translate to money. This means that my to-do list is re-oriented towards how I can bless myself and other people the most. It's not centered on what people who influence my pay/earning power or Eug's pay want from us, but on less tangible value, both in the short term and the long term. Still pretty vague, but I'd love to hear from you on how better to make this leap. 

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