Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Priorities and Perspectives: Wants and Needs

Today I was looking back through my blog lookingfor a picture I had posted some time ago.  (And what a great trip along memory lane to read some of my older posts,)  Anyway, I came upon this post I made on our 43rd Anniversary.  I am a bit older now but everything I said is still right on, so I want to share it again with you.  As we all struggle with the economic crisis we are in in this country I think a different perspective is in order.  What do we really need?  What will bring us happiness?  Good questions to ask one's self at any time, but especially in today's climate.  Enjoy.

43 Years!
How can it possibly be forty three years! It seems like only yesterday we were just kids "playing house"! But, it is true, we've been married 43 years today! It has been a fun ride so far and I hope we make as far as Mom and Dad did...they were married 62 years and they still loved each other dearly! I know Dad still misses her sorely.

But now that we are becoming the older generation, it doesn't seem quite right. I don't think of myself as OLD except when I stop to consider my age; although since my health problems last year I know I have really slowed down, just don't have the stamina I used to. Age is one of those things that just creeps up on you when you are busy living your life, I guess. You do realize that you are getting old when your children pass into middle age though! And I now have two over 40.

I remember growing up I thought my parents and aunts and uncles were so old...looking back I realize that they were only in their 30s and 40s when I was a kid! That can't be old, I have kids those ages. All of this brings me to this point...We NEED to enjoy life as it goes along because time waits for no one.

We get so stressed about doing things that don't really count and no one remembers a moment after it is done. Not that we don't have to take care of the necessities, but we also need to stop and "smell the roses". Put the laundry off for a day and go play with the grandkids, take time to have lunch with a friend, take a few minutes to visit a shut-in, call your parents or grandparents on the phone, pause as you meet a friend and give them a hug instead of just a wave across the parking lot. These are the things that put the life in living, and they are the things that will matter when you are old and all you have left are your memories.

When I was young, I never remember people being so negative as they are now. I don't think all this negativity is good for us. For one thing when we only see the negative in things we don't recognize the blessings we have received; and we forget to be grateful. That is important, we must be grateful for what we have. Our attitudes affect our lives more than anything else and being ungrateful is a big part of that, otherwise selfishness creeps in. My mother always said, "Be thankful for what you have, there are children starving in China." Of course we always wondered how come we couldn't just send that hated food to them instead of having to eat it, but there is some truth in there somewhere.

Our parents had just been though a war, they had lived through the depression, they were poor according to today's standards... but they were grateful to be alive. And they were happy, genuinely happy. Even though they worked many more hours than most people do now, t
hey always found time to have fun. They often had friends in to play games or just to "visit", they made time to do things with their kids, siblings, parents and neighbors. And when they worked they did it with a happy heart because they knew the value of a job well done.

I think our priorities have gotten a bit skewed, we think we need more things, but really what we need is better relationships, with our neighbors, with our families and most especially with our God. We need to know that just by the fact that we are sons and daughters of God, that we have value. Who we are matters, what we have doesn't. When our kids were teenagers they thought they "needed" the right things to fit in...that certain brand of shirt, those special sneakers, etc. Are we not guilty of that too when we think we must have a bigger tv or a new car, a better house?

My parents raised six kids in a tiny one bedroom, one bath house with a full basement. Being the only girl, when I got big enough to need my own room, I got the bedroom and Dad made a master bedroom and a "boys" room downstairs for my five brothers. It was more like a barracks...two sets of bunks plus other beds, but it served the purpose and the boys shared it with the hired men too. Whenever company came, the kids slept on the floor so the company could have the beds. No one ever considered that we needed a bigger house, it kept us warm, we had enough to eat, and everyone else was in the same situation it seemed.

In this time of economic trial, I think it might help us all to step back and consider if we really need more things, or do we just want them. Will they bring happiness or just more stress as we try to figure out how to pay for them. We need to recapture the attitude our parents had of being happy just to be alive. To have sons and brothers home from the war. To honor the memory of those lost by being diligent, and patriotic, and cheerful. They had hard times but they didn't dwell on them, they looked forward to a better future and worked to try to build that for their children. Can we do any less? Do we not have a responsibility to pass that same legacy to our own grandchildren?

As I get "older" family becomes more and more precious to me, and things less and less. I wish I had caught that vision when I was younger and stressing over so many needless things. I hope our legacy to our children might be one of setting priorities and putting the people in your lives first, because you never know how long you will have them, and because time waits for no one...and because this is probably the best lesson I have learned in the last 43 years!


cantabile21 said...

Thanx for sharing your thoughts! i'm a relatively young mother who grew up in a humble environment, and while i did wish for certain things my friends had as a kid, i was also constantly reminded that i was already much more fortunate than my parents, who grew up in a somewhat similar situation to yours. Now that i'm grown up, i actually feel rather good about my frugal upbringing as i neither need nor want most of the ostentatious stuff that some of my contemporaries are chasing. Especially since i can't really afford them either, hehe! But there is a saying in Chinese, contentment brings joy, and i find that a good principle to live by.

Anyway, your post here really struck a chord with me, especially when you mentioned that family gets more and more precious to us as we get older. Watching our parents hit their golden years is a somewhat sobering experience, as we realise that our time with them is limited and they won't be around forever. We are also experiencing firsthand how fast kids grow up, and sometimes i wish i could just grab those days, minutes, seconds with my kids and hang on to them, as if that would slow time down and allow me to enjoy them for a moment more. But like you said, time waits for no one.

So thanx again for sharing your heart, and happy 43rd anniversary to you and your husband! =)

Deb Burroughs said...

You are right about those things you mentioned in your essay! I have tried to impress on my kids that what we have is not as important as who we are and what we do. I am so blessed that my parents are both still alive - at 84 and 96 I know my time with them is limited and I cherish every moment I spend with them. I belong to a small church that is more like family than congregation. In the blink of an eye, we lost two members within days of one another. One had been sick for months, but the other passed instantly. One never knows when they will be called home, so spread the love while you can!

Cathy L. Calamas said...

So glad you shared that again! It is so true and we needed to be reminded of it.