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Less is More

Chad Dykstra - 2011-01-24
3 comment(s) - View or write a comment

How many times have we heard the stories about lottery winners who thought their lives would take a turn for the better, only to find that the exact opposite was true?  Let's look at one example...

In 1985 AND 1986, Evelyn Adams won the lottery - equaling a total winning of $5.4 million. However, today - she has no money. "Winning the lottery isn't always what it's cracked up to be," says Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey lottery not just once, but twice (1985, 1986), to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer. She lost money in slot machines, and couldn't seem to say no to relatives and friends. Evelyn's big win ended in a big loss.

Many would say that Zinabu and Abatu, or internationally adopted chilren in general, have won the lottery.  They went from a situation where they had nothing, and have been transported to a new life situtation.  A life where they have all the food they can eat (which is quite a bit).  They have drawers and a closet full of clothes.  They have more toys than they could ever play with, and more Disney movies than they could ever watch.  What could possibly be bad in this situation?

I should stop right now and clarify that money and possessions in and of themselves are not a bad thing.  There are many wealthy people who do great things with what God has provided for them.  As of a few years ago, Bill Gates had donated 27 billion dollars to charity.  That's $27,000,000,000.  There are also  lottery success stories.  The issue in many cases is that those who quickly "strike it rich" don't have the life experience necessary to handle their newfound situation appropriately and it causes them more harm than good. 

We see evidence of this every day.  Just this morning, for example, one of the boys had a 30 minute meltdown involving kicking, screaming, slamming doors, throwing shoes, and trying to bite Lora as she was holding (read: restraining) him.  You might wonder what situation would warrant this kind of response.  You will probably be surprised to find out that the entire meltdown was due to someone else wearing a jean jacket out of the closet that he considered "his".  It wasn't something he was planning to fact it hasn't been worn in over 2 weeks.  Seeing it on his brother threw him into a fit of rage that we haven't seen for quite a while.  Now he's getting upset because Abi is getting her fingernails painted, and he wants in.  A sense of entitlement can grow fast when you've quickly "struck it rich".  This part of the transition process has definitely been more difficult than we expected.

As we traveled around Ethiopia, I was always amazed at the smiles that I saw on the faces of people that I would meet.  It was very evident from talking to them that worldy possessions do not equal happiness.  Happieness came through the wealth of family, community, and faith in God who would meet their (very real) needs.  As Americans, how often don't we often chase happiness through possessions?  How driven can we become by wanting that fancy new car or the latest gadget?  TV commercials tell us that when we get them, we'll be happy...but are we?  There's always something else, and then your new gadget sits in a drawer. 

Over the past few months, this has become more apparent to us.  We're working on teaching our children to be content - and to be content ourselves.  To be thankful for what we have...and to get rid of some of the excess that we have and we don't really need.  In most cases, less is definitely more. 

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Posted by Gwyn on 2011-01-24

Well said Chad.  "All I need is this lamp, thats all I need.........I need this!"  What movie?

Posted by Chad on 2011-01-24

The Jerk, obviously.

Posted by Christie Maatman on 2011-01-28

WOW Chad you hit the nail on the head with that one!!! Andy, I and the boys never seem to be totally happy. We just need to remind ourselves (help Dylan) WHO is truely giving us these things. When we are really in need God always supplies enough!!!

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