The three pieces of mail arrived on the same day.
A “notice of exhaustion” from the Virginia Employment Commission concerning the end of the husband’s unemployment benefits.
A Weavings magazine with this issue’s theme emblazoned on the cover: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.”
A free-lance writing check for $200.
Who could be worried with such a mailboxful?
As of this writing, the Senate has passed another extension of unemployment benefits. However, I am not ignorant of the fact that they are deepening the nation’s debt to do so.
In his campaign speech at JMU in October of 2008, President Obama said that to get out of the economic mess our country is in, we would all have to “tighten our belts.” Had he and our other leaders set an example of this, they would have been worthy of my deep respect.
It would have been honorable of the President to extend benefits by tapping into stimulus money or to appropriate actual tax money or to let another, less pressing program suffer for the moment.
As it is, they put the suffering off to the future. Is this how mature people manage a budget?
The husband has not had a paying job for one year and four months. I work part time. We are getting through this time because we have only one debt, our mortgage. No credit card bills, no car payments.
No, we don’t have a huge-screen TV. My car is 14 years old. We have no techno-gadgets. I bet most U.S. senators—on both sides of the aisle—own lots of shiny new things. Perhaps “tighten our belts” is a relative term.
Several weeks ago, two of my kids lost their jobs, too. They both worked for the same company, which was forced to close its doors. When the husband lost his job last year, the kids were my plan B. I thought, okay, if we lose our house, we could always move in with one of them. Ha!
“Do not be anxious about tomorrow.” Jesus said this to his followers in Matthew 6:34.
Anxiety is a natural response to uncertainty. It may be our initial response. It certainly was mine, in those first few days after the husband lost his job. But living in a state of anxiety is crippling. God is here today, supplying our needs. We don’t need to rob from tomorrow, because God will be here then, too.
On the other hand, we cannot be presumptuous. We cannot spend our money extravagantly today, on unnecessary things, believing there will be more tomorrow.
While Jesus did not want us to be anxious about tomorrow, he also told us to prepare for it. Remember the parable about the wise and foolish bridesmaids? The wise ones were cool, calm and collected because they had prepared for the future, while the foolish ones got into a panic. They wasted today’s resources, and when tomorrow came they had nothing for it.
When we were younger, we always bought new cars. But buying a $30,000 car and paying it off over six years with tons of interest is crazy, just plain crazy. You make that decision based on today, but you have no way of knowing whether you’ll be able to make the payment in three years.
Making those rip-off car payments kept us near-broke for years. Anyone who makes big payments on anything knows the strangle-hold that debt has on you.
The thing with the national debt is that it’s been growing for years, into the trillions of dollars. At this moment, the debt is $13,222,756,362,421. To whom do we owe this money? To the Federal Reserve, which is part-public, part-private, to Japan, China, the United Kingdom.
It’s like it doesn’t matter. Will there ever be a day of reckoning? Apparently, our leaders do not think so or do not care.
Alas, we citizens must not follow their example.
When I came in from collecting the mail the other day, I had a huge smile on my face. I handed each piece to the husband, one by one. The letter from VEC, the magazine and the check.
No matter what happens, it’s going to be alright.