Pastor's Monthly Message for January 2009

The Beauty of Not Having "Everything"

There was a time when not having everything was a virtue. "If we didn't have it, we did without", our grandparents said with pride. They talked of the Great Depression, of poverty, of bread lines and blackouts - of "doing without"

In the good old days, the first rule of life was thrift. Eat it all, wear it out, make it do. There were the maxims of survival.

In those days, it didn't occur to people that doing without was a handicap. By today's standards, many people in our past history were ill-fed, ill clothed, ill housed, and under-educated. And, under a modern philosophy now widely held by some too smart to be wise, these people were doomed to failure.

Fortunately, individuals from America's past saw virtue in their plight. They wokred and aspired as if there were more to success than environment; as if discipline and hard work were the pasts to prosperity, regardless of one's beginnings; as if they right to fail were as important as the freedom to succeed.

And so our ancestors toild on, believing that "doing without" was no great handicap; holding on to the outdated idea that a boy, any boy, could aspire to this nation's highest office, even a boy as undernourished as Abraham Lincoln; or that a person with as little schooling as Thomas Edison could still succeed in the field of science; or that an individual could do without the benefit of sight and sound and rise to become a master of literature and speech, and individual such as Helen Keller.

It was not "doing without" of course, that made these individuals great, but a rejection of the philosophy that success is dependent upon social, economic, or intellectual advantage.

It never occurred to Lincoln that the cards were staked against him, that because others had more money, more education, more status, they had the advantage.

Nor did it enter Edison's mind mind that it was useless to try because he had no college education; simply he plodded on, night and day, blessing the entire world with his inventions.

Helen Keller had every excuse for self pity and depression. She saw nothing but a vision of her own worth as an individual; she heard nothing except an inner voice that said "You must never quit trying".

It's true that poverty, cultural deprivation, and ignorance are not generally the stepping stones to success. But, in moderation, there are important benefits from "doing without", benefits such as empathy, self-reliance, and determination.

And so, in our haste to give our children everything, let's not deprive them of one of the greatest gifts, the blessing of sometimes "doing without" of "not having everything"

Pastor Hans Lillejord