The Courier

Howard RittenhouseSo, it’s the first week back to work for most of us (Yay) and whether or not you went home for leave or stayed here, hopefully you all had an adequate Christmas (that’s what I wish people, BTW: Have an adequate Christmas!) You likely ate too much, drank too much, got into a fight with your brother-in-law, wished you got something you actually wanted for once, cursed as you lugged all the garbage and recycling to the curb following the frenzy, and last Sunday, wondered where the time went?

And now, you’re waiting sweaty browed and damp palmed for the credit card bill(s) to arrive.

“Oh, if only I had more money!” I hear you say. Or, “Wouldn’t it be great to win the lottery? That would solve all my problems!”

When I was a teenager, there was a family down the road from us who lived (literally) in a tar paper shack. And then one day, they won the lottery. Let the heavens rain down joy and gladness! They built a new house next door to the old one, bought a couple of new cars and a boat, and splashed out on family and “friends” (funny how they multiply in times of plenty). A few years later, it was all gone: they sold the cars, the boat, and the house, and moved back into the shack.

Recently, I heard about a woman in Florida who’d won the lottery not once, but twice! The first time she won $3+ million and the second time $1+ million. This was only a few years ago, but today she’s working two jobs trying to make ends meet. Another fellow – a cannabis dealer from Ontario – won $5 million in 2006. He was advised to get a financial adviser – and didn’t. He blew half of the money in the first three years at a rate of $20,000/week. Today, he’s broke. The latest example of big money destabilizing the lives of winners and leaving them worse off than before.

“Well, sure,” you’re thinking. “But if that happened to me, I’d be smart! I’d squirrel some of it away. I’d get a financial adviser. I’d take a 2×4 to the so-called friends who show up on the doorstep!” And maybe you would.

But the likelihood of you or anyone else around here actually winning the jackpot is fairly remote (unless you do and if so … Hey, buddy! I’ve always liked you!). The point is that – brace yourself – money doesn’t solve every problem. Sure, the number one cause of arguments in marriages is money (it’s a fact!). So more money = less arguments, right? Wrong. It just means that there’s more about which to argue. You’d be amazed how many lottery winners wish they’d never won. It amplifies their problems rather than easing them.

Sure, sure, more money would be nice. Everyone wants more, including those that already have a GREAT deal. There’s never enough. It’s an insatiable hunger. Jesus famously said, “You can’t love God and Money.” Only one may claim your life, not both. The apostle Paul wrote that he’d learned how to be content with much as well as with little.  And that’s really the secret: learning to be content regardless of one’s financial (or other) circumstances. But it’s devilishly hard in our society. Contentment is the key. But like a good marriage, or PT, or promotion, you have to work at it; it doesn’t just happen.

So, as we begin a new year and whatever it might mean for us, let me encourage you to practice contentment, contentment in all things. But if you happen to win the lottery, don’t forget your favourite Padre, now will you?

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