Life’s Currency

Being broke stinks ….. let’s just get that out of the way right this minute. I can really pretty much say, with experience …. lots of it ……. that being broke with a family of 7 is just flat-out rotten much of the time ….. BUT…….. BUT BUT BUT ………… I would never ever EVER change the experience of going through these lessons …. and it was even worth it to learn what it feels like to exist at below-poverty standards according to the US Government.

We are finally starting to sloooowly pull ourselves out of this…..well, I need to put that a different way….because, we are pulling ourselves out with one hand, and holding on tight to GOODNESS with the other hand…the goodness of others, the goodness of providence, the goodness of miraculous serendipity and grace….which is pulling US out.

Our family has been moved and changed permanently from the power of being brought out of very very dark and scary places…..and the love that surrounds the selfless acts of others that have gotten us to where we are now.

I have found that one of the hardest parts of financial hardship and economic decline is the assumption that it takes you out of the game of life…..and that you are just “out of the game”…..that you can’t play along anymore. For me…….this was pretty devastating….because I really like to play in the game of life.

But I have learned something so very powerful about the best way to be in the game….whether you have money (and we all go through times when we do or don’t….)

or whether you simply have this:

love
This post is about LIFE’S currency, and sometimes that really does come in the form of one dollar bills, hundred dollar bills, pennies, quarters…..and you really can make miracles happen with this kind of currency……….also…..so much of the time, it comes in the form of WHATEVER IS THERE THAT HOLDS PURPOSE…..which can be anything, even things that might seem worthless to others……..and most often, is just love….tiny and big acts of love.

Our family has been incredibly and tenderly blessed by both of these kinds of miracles, and luckily, we have also been able to experience being on the giving end in very unique and personal ways. As hard as it is to be on the receiving end of generosity and kindness because of pride, I have learned that it is a critically important part of the most important kinds of currency exchanges. Marq and I have both worked very hard our entire lives to make sure that we never have to be on the receiving end….when life brought us to our knees these last few years, we had to humble ourselves and accept the gifts of love that were very tenderly placed before us. I can not express how this has changed my heart. We must be willing to give, we must be willing to receive…..then life takes on a richness that will never be written about in Forbes 500 but it’s a million times deeper, wider and more colorful.

Did you know that this year, after losing just about everything else we owned, I lost a precious suitcase (well, the AIRLINE lost it) full of my most treasured art supplies and years of collected vintage findings, and just artsy goodness that could never be replaced? I was on my way to an art retreat….a gift from one of my BFFs, and I was so excited as I had just walked out the old door of corporate life and flew out of my cage to a life of uncertainty, yet freedom. I loooooved the stuff that was in there….Oh man…I was so mad. I went back and read in my journal from early last year….where I wrote that I was just so thankful that I still had my family….and that if I had my art supplies, I could do anything….even though we lost everything else, I would totally be ok with my family and my art stuff.

art supplies I had written quite a few times how thankful I was for my art supplies…..and then….whammo…..they were gone forever. The airline refused to replace them….and so, I have tried to figure out the lesson in THAT one.

My other remaining prized possession was my laptop. I used it for EVERYTHING. I even took it to bed, where I could work while “relaxing”, I took it on trips. I took it in the car with me….it kept me connected to the world and to my work. This Fall…..it crashed too, big time, leaving me to share the family computers and try to do my work while balancing scheduled time for each of us…….

computer

The rest of it went earlier in the year, and the year before that…the house, the business….the security……soooo, at this point, it just starting getting kind of humorous. I have learned enough by now to know (after I am done throwing a fit, pouting, and feeling sorry for myself) that these things do not happen without a higher purpose……

business

So then, at some point this year….and I am not quite sure when it was….since everything else had been turned over in not-so-voluntary ways….that I would turn over EVERYTHING I EVER KNEW TO BE TRUE….and just start from scratch…….I decided to surrender to faith. I used to think I had things pretty well figured out……but, NOT SO. I volunteered my faux knowledge to the old miracle machine.

every single thing I thought I knew
SURRENDER is the miracle machine….it really is. The funny thing is…most of the time you can’t change what is going to happen anyway, so you might as well turn it over voluntarily, with the faith that it will go right into the miracle machine and transform into what it was supposed to be in your life. (after you throw your fit, pout and all of that stuff for a day or two)

For us….it went to some unknown crazy place……and everything turned to currency. I am not talking about currency that can be spent at fine restaurants or country clubs….we couldn’t rent a car with it or buy clothes with it…….BUT, I am pretty sure we racked up some sweet frequent flyer miles….just not the kind that we’re used to. We learned that going through life with this kind of currency is even better. We learned the literal meaning of “your cup runneth over”

cup of love

The money and the jobs went dry RIGHT when Marq got completely better…the timing of almost every single thing in this long story has been phenomenally perfect….too perfect to be coincidental. I know for sure (and it even mentions this in the journal entry I will share with you at the end, though at that time, I did not believe that we would EVER have financial troubles)…anyway, I know for sure that we are never given more than we can handle, and I don’t believe I would have been able to handle the things that happened this year without my husband by my side….I was just too worn out after so many years of so much.

I am ashamed to admit that in my twenties, I fell into certain trappings and beliefs about life that my husband never would participate in. As someone who loves pretty things and beautiful things…..I always wanted to work very hard to be able to have the money to buy things. Marq just wanted to have freedom in his life, and I remember when we first started enjoying having a lot of money and I asked him what he wanted out of life, now that we didn’t need to worry anymore about money….he just said, “Now that I have time, I am going to make it my goal to serve someone in need every single day.”

…and he did…….and he was always so happy.

hands full of love
When things got tough this year, financially……..he just kept telling me that if we got up every day, and got to work, and did things for others…and gave WHAT WE HAD, whatever it was, that things would work out……that our cup would run over………..

He told me that we could STILL PLAY IN THE GAME OF LIFE with what we had….even if all that we had was our actions and our words……..we could play along….it would be great…..

I watched him doing it every day…effortlessly…happily….and I couldn’t help but wonder what I had to give. I wasn’t good at making casseroles…….that’s what my mom always did for others.

When I lost my suitcase full of supplies, and then my laptop………..I wondered what else I had to give…..I knew I had a place there…working…..I knew I could do that. When that was gone, it felt like there was a message in it…and there was………..I really only had one thing left that was mine to give……

little love
and all it was……..was……

…..my story

…..my experiences.

how scary. (come on…this stuff is personal!)

That is how Brave Girl’s Club started. I realized that I had learned certain skills that I never thought would have been possible for someone like me to learn. I had learned how to be brave when I had gone through so much of my life being afraid and letting my fears keep me from doing things I really wanted to do. I had learned how to heal through art. I had learned how to trust myself. I had learned a gentle and kind way to make boundaries with others. I had learned the truth about who I really was, who you really are….and how much each of us mean in the world. I had learned how to get all the way through hell.

full of love

….and I wanted to play along…….so I dug deep, in all of my pockets…and I offered it up……and I was quite afraid that my funds would be denied….that my card would not be accepted, that my offering would not be enough…..but I did it with all of the love that I could find in my heart.

This is where I learned about the great exchange that makes no logical sense………I mean, where else can 1 act of love and kindness and authenticity multiply to 100 and then multiply to 1000……….and then on and on……..I saw this happen with my own eyes……….each tiny brave act of giving came back in 10 even bigger pieces of love and miracles that I was never expecting……each little piece of love currency multiplied into hundreds more, flew right back into my hand and my heart….and the heart of every giver……….giving us even more currency to play the game of life.  I mean this literally and I mean it figuratively. Have you heard the phrase “God giveth, God taketh away?”

well….I think it needs to go one more…..at the end, God giveth again………check this out:

God plays by an interesting set of currency rules….basically…it’s give Me all that you have, and I will give you all that I have…..and He has WAAAAAAY more than we have!

lost suitcase = found opportunity

When I lost my suitcase….I didn’t have my supplies……so I wasn’t in my class…I was sitting outside….outside was another woman who had decided to come to the retreat at the last minute, but who also happened to be outside during the class………meeting her would change the course of my life and my career.  Had I not lost my suitcase, I would not have been outside, and we really probably never would have met…and when I tell you what happened as a result of this chance meeting, you will truly grasp the miracle of it.

broken laptop = time with family, time to think, time to plan

I am an addict. I just have an addictive personality. I was addicted to work. My laptop was 4 years old and it had been attached to me for that long………..when it was gone, I went through some withdrawals…but then, started having conversations again, started putting my work away at night to enjoy time with family, started planning my time wisely, enjoyed weekends away “unplugged” and really used my time at the computer efficiently when I had it. This was a very great thing for me, something I needed very very much.

lost job = found purpose

Let me tell you something, had things not happened in the way that they happened with my company, as horrible as it was, I would have busted my buns for the rest of my life to make it work. I did not belong there.  .I had lessons to learn and it when it was time, it was over. It ended kind of devastatingly, but that was my choice to feel that way I suppose. I know now that it was a merciful act of goodness on the part of our Maker to rip me off of that path and place me on the right one. I simply was not doing it on my own. I was soooooo much in the wrong place!

Had things not happened the way that they did, things would not be where they are now. Because I lost my company, I found a brave girl inside…….and then my sister and I went on a hunt for all of the other brave girls inside of all of us……and we are ready to start a revolution………THAT is where I belong. And I belong at home with my family, making stuff.  Had I not lost everything that I was……I could never begin to become what I was created to become. It is that way for all of us….we must lose what we THINK we are before we can embrace the truth of our unique and divine magnificence.

surrendering = finding

This is the part that was hardest for me. I would never have described myself as a control freak before all of this happened, because I am vehemently opposed to people controlling other people…but I learned that I will do just about ANYTHING to control the outcome of my own life. I don’t like to not be in control of what is going to happen today, tomorrow, next year. It is horrible and uncomfortable and humbling…..it’s hard. I had to learn this the hard way….that I am NOT in control. I had to surrender to faith……..but it was after being knocked over the head in just about every possible way. Just like I said……….when enough was enough….I finally just surrendered……and then believed….and that’s when the miracles started multiplying…just like I said…they still are…I write things down every day….it is truly amazing what is happening in our life the more we surrender to it.

losing it “all” = finding all that matters

This year, I made the best friends of my life, and renewed friendships in need of quality time…….I met people that I NEVER would have met had things not transpired in a way that looked disastrous at first. I met people this year who I thought I was to help but who in the end, saved me.

I have begged to the heavens over and over again in the last 5 years that in some miraculous way, that time would be restored for my children and their father…..for my husband and myself….that we would be able to make up for all of those lost years as if they never happened….that my children would know and love their father and that my marriage would not only survive all of that hell, but that it would come out of it stronger and more joyful.
Because of our financial situation this year…..our family had to work together to make things work EVERY SINGLE DAY….we even got stuck in the house together most days because our car was totaled…………..and I swear to you with everything that is in me, that this experience bonded our family together in a way that made up for all of those lost years……..something that never would have happened if I was jet-setting and life was comfortable………..we needed this. We needed to see that our family was surrounding us…..and that our best friends were right in front of us all along.

living it = sharing it

So we gave what we had, and we had to learn how to take what others had to give, too. We share what we have learned…..so many hard things are happening in the world right now…so many struggling families and tired souls and scared birdies………So, we gave what we could….I shared what I’d learned….even though I was afraid…I told what I knew…what we had been through…that was what I could give…..

And then….the worries went away….things showed up, right on time……always…….sometimes at the brink of what seemed to be the end of it all……but some kind of currency always showed up. Everything we gave grew and grew and grew….even though it seemed so small and was certainly worthless in a worldly way….love came back as even bigger love…in all of it’s forms.

The best thing was what my children have seen and learned. On Christmas Eve, we had the opportunity to give what we had and gather what others had and help a friend who’s house had burnt down……we filled our car with gifts from others and we delivered it all…it felt so good. Christmas felt complete.

We arrived home on Christmas Eve to a huge pile of unexpected love that had been left home for our family………..love from some of those people that I mentioned I would never have met this year if things had not happened the way that they had happened…..love that we could have kept surviving without……but that made our burden light…….like…..we were hiking uphill with a backpack full of rocks…..and each one of these newfound angels took a rock from our backpack……until there were no more rocks….and we could walk without burden. It was a relief that I can not begin to describe with words and one that I was not anticipating, I lost all control of emotion when I felt that lightness finally……we all did. My children witnessed it….it was the biggest pile of love I have ever seen, bursting out of the edges…..and….I just sobbed, I just lost it……..because I knew……..it was life’s currency…….and it will go on and on and on and on.

gift
And none of this EVER would have happened….not ONE of these miracles, if things hadn’t have happened the way things had happened. Even the crappy stuff…..especially the crappy stuff.

Things always work out in the end…if they haven’t worked out yet, you’re not quite to the end. Be brave, stick with it…see the miracles………..

Life really is beautiful.

(Originally posted on www.melodyross.typepad.com in 2009)

Comments

  1. you always manage to move me to tears. and then make me look inward. thank you <3

  2. Sue Alley says:

    From the bottom of my heart….I am so happy for all of you.

  3. Raphaela says:

    Bless you always and ever. Just what I needed today. xxxx

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