Here we are, in the midst of yet another money struggle. I am discouraged. My self esteem takes a hit as I question my ability to portray a warm environment for new daycare kids, and wonder if potential clients are true in their excuses for declining my services. I obsessively pour over Craigslist ads, comparing myself to every other advertised daycare. I critique their spelling and grammar, cringe over their poorly designed space and lame Dollar Tree “learning posters.” I wonder what they have that I don’t. Motivation? A better setup? A business license?
There are certain things I have no control over. I can’t accept a family who isn’t willing to allow me to transport their child, because I am not willing to pull Coral out of the preschool she loves. I won’t give up my Volunteer Wednesdays at the boys’ school because it is a priority of mine to be a familiar face. It is so important to know the faculty, and more important, to know the kids’ friends. Also, the public school system needs volunteers, no way around it. So the truth is, I am the only one getting in my way of bringing in a greater income. And I don’t want to change that. I want things my way or not at all.
The consequence of my inflexibility is becoming debilitating. The cash flow that we responsibly enjoyed when I had full enrollment is gone, and it hurts. Cutting back is easy enough, but there is only so much we are able to cut. Every month we squeak by. It isn’t comfortable.
I have to wonder, maybe that’s the point.
If there’s one thing I have learned about myself over the last 31 years, it’s that comfort equals complacency. Complacency is dangerous, especially when examined up close, dictionary style.
com•pla•cen•cy also com•pla•cence
n., pl. -cies.
a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of, or unconcerned with, unpleasant realities or harmful possibilities; self-satisfaction; smugness.
It’s the smugness that strikes me the hardest. My Achilles heel. My sense of my own awesomeness that somehow boosts me out of the realm of compassion and empathy and awareness of the world around me. When we’re doing well financially, I spend a lot more time refreshing our bank accounts, Pinning all of my wants, and nickel and dime-ing us back into a hole. I read about the world’s problems and think to myself “whew, glad that’s not me.” I’m detached. The truth is, I’m a better human when I’m broke. Being broke breaks me, and with a desperate need to Be Somebody, I build myself back up with acts of service, kindness, and vulnerability. It’s all I can afford. That’s the way it should be, really. And yet… fill my pockets, and I’m back to filling myself up superficially again.
Something tells me God’s telling me something. I have a feeling that the day I manage to have my pockets filled while rejecting complacency, the see-saw of cash flow will vanish.
It is in this realization, and in the glorious command I read this morning to “patiently endure,” that I make the conscious decision to quit obsessing, fretting, and scheming, and to let go enough to be pulled towards the things that draw me. Writing. Service. Underdogs.
I’m learning to be okay with this. Self-aware, honest, and broke is starting to sound better than comfortable and smug. Let’s see where it takes me.