"In heaven, will God ask for papers?"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thinking about money...

I love concerts. In the past five or so years of my life, I have spent hundreds of dollars on tickets, gas, and meals to go to shows and many many hours with friends attending and driving to and from those shows. I absolutely love the environment of live music being shared by a talented group of people--Christian or secular, indoor or outdoor, metal or acoustic. It would never take me long to fork out the $10-40 for a ticket and drive over three hours to get to a concert.

I have driven many miles to see one of my favorite bands, Sanctus Real, perform and I have spent many hours  waiting at shows to maintain my spot in the front row at music festivals. Every time I heard that they were going to be anywhere in the Midwest, I began my research, purchased tickets, and cleared my schedule to make sure I could be there. Moving down here to Texas, I was bummed I would miss their performances at LifeLight and other shows in the tri-state area...until I found out they were coming to El Paso! I was SO excited that I'd have the chance to see them again.

So Sanctus Real played here in El Paso last week...but I didn't go.

After the initial excitement wore off, I started thinking more about the show and its $25 ticket. They were playing with Casting Crowns, so this was probably a pretty reasonable ticket price. But for a few days, I just couldn't bring myself to buy a ticket. I kept thinking about how this $25 was one-fourth my stipend for a month, and what else I could spend that money on or save it. I'd also have to miss a night of YoungLife...which wouldn't have been a big deal, considering we often have as many leaders as we do youth attend. But instead of worshiping with my hands raised to the "Face of Love" or "I'm Not Alright" that night, I worshiped with my arms around our high schoolers, swaying back and forth and singing as loud as we could to "Stand by Me."

Many people I know would not see my refusal to the concert as a big deal. But for me, it is kinda a big deal. Being at concerts have been some of the most joyful moments of my life. I think my decision to not attend demonstrates how much I am already changing from my experience here on the border. Even just a month ago or so, some three weeks into the program, I willingly and excitedly spent $40 for an Avett Brothers concert here in El Paso next month. I don't regret my purchase and I am very excited for the show, but the extent of thought that I put into buying that ticket was way less than the Sanctus Real ticket.

I don't want pity for not having much money or want to put myself up on a stand, saying "look at me and how much I am sacrificing because I'm poor!" But I live and work around so many people that come from families that just don't have the option to make a purchase without giving much much thought into it. On the other hand, I also work with many who have a family member who doesn't think twice about spending money on things like alcohol.  I have never been good with money and I never really think about finances ever...but I am learning that the less money you have, the more you think about it. (Unless you're an addict.)

I am blessed to be earning no salary. I am blessed to have rent and utilities taken care of. I am blessed to be missing out on fun experiences to spend time with confused teenagers. I am blessed to have to think twice or three times about spending $6 on a coffee and bagel...sometimes giving in (like now) and sometimes deciding it's not worth it. I am blessed to be living in a community where we take a lot of time to consider our financial situation before buying groceries or making other purchases. I am blessed with the ability to feel blessed despite my economic situation, and to recognize that life for me is still very, very comfortable.

As I sit at a small table in Kinley's with my bagel and coffee, I wonder how comfortable the man sitting outside my window is...I mean, having to beg for money from folks sitting outside a coffee shop, how comfortable can he be?

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