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Christians: envy and bitterness help


pinkmint
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Don't quote, don't quote, don't quote. Thank you :)

 

Envy and the resulting resentment and the resulting bitterness is pretty much a constant struggle for me. I want to be free from it. Maybe there's just no excuse. Maybe I just need to repent and ask for God to change me daily, each moment sometimes as it's trying to strangle me. And those are things I aim to do anyway. 

 

Here is the thing. My family (DH, me, kids) are "working class". My husband makes around $29K a year to support a family of 5. Because of overtime pay (he's paid hourly and does get time and a half when he works overtime) and our tax return, which we use strategically, on top of his normal pay, we are able to squeeze by. But it is not a lot. Do you know what it's like to support a family of 5 in a medium cost of living area on under $40K a year in the USA in 2016? I know we are blessed. God has always provided our needs. Yes, we are rich compared to people in Uganda. I'm talking about this specific context. 

 

Everyone in our group of friends and aquaintances is at least middle class. I don't know what their household incomes are but they all live in (own) homes that are 3+ times the size of ours, in safe, attractive neighborhoods. They either make significantly more money than us, and or are benefiting from there middle + class, in-tact family upbringing (inheriting homes and wealth etc) 

 

These are the people who homeschool and/ or have similar values to us. But I always feel out of place.

 

They can go to the baby showers they're invited to a buy a gift without sweating grocery money.

 

They can homeschool and cope with the daily stress and grind knowing there's never a vacation or trip far off to give them a change of scenery and refreshment while the only time we go somewhere overnight is when my toddler's asthma puts him in the hospital. 

 

They can nit pick their home's details like flooring and paint while we rent a place that has disgusting asthma/ allergy trigger carpet for my kids that the landlord won't allow us to change partly because he seems to want to keep this place in the crappiest possible condition to avoid tax increases on it (he came over recently to take pics for this exact purpose... to prove how crappy it is). 

 

Their kids can walk down the street or play outside without broken glass and trash covering everything. 

 

They have yards beigger than the size of a pickup truck. 

 

They have all kinds of space and playrooms the size of our entire house while we struggle to find places for things. 

 

They don't have registered sex offenders leering at them 2 doors down as they drive down the street. 

 

They don't have haggard, poverty-worn individuals drinking adult beverages outside and mad-dogging them. 

 

They are not the racial minority in their neighborhood (no matter what color you are, this is challenging) 

 

They are buddies with their neighboors because they're all alike. 

 

They don't share a driveway with 8 of their neighbors' cars like we do because they can afford space. 

 

SRESS. Did I mention stress? I am cranky because of many of the above mentioned things. It is hard not to be. 

 

And if I share these things with them I'm afraid it's just going to be awkward and a relationship-killer. 

 

There's more but I don't want to get too carried away. I will delete this soon. Just wanted some perspective and help if possible. I don't like feeling this way. We are trying hard to change things, but it's not as easy as the "boot strap" enthusiats make it sound. Believe me. Things may never change. I could die tomorrow. I don't want to spend my life bitter. 

Edited by pinkmint
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No real advice, other than to take it one day at a time,a nd try to focus on what IS good. but it's okay to want more. That's allowed. Can you make any friends in more similar circumstances, so you can vent and know they "get it" and are going through the same things? I think that helps a lot. 

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:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

 

BTDT, though for us it was temporary as my husband needed a few years to get established in his career and we were able to swing night school for him to get a degree that led to promotions. Student loans were our friend, in spite of what the "never borrow money" folks say. I remember feeding the kids and myself pancakes made with just flour, salt and water because grocery money was so tight.

 

It would be so much harder if I couldn't have seen things looking up in the future. 

 

The "poor people in Uganda" comparison was actually really helpful to me, not Uganda specifically but I had lived as a child in a couple of the poorest countries in Latin America and I knew what real, bare survival poverty was. And I knew that wasn't us and that we were in fact incredibly blessed.

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I'm only mentioning this because you said cc but psalm 73 deals with envy to some degree. If nothing else at least you know someone else who loved God felt the way you do now.

 

Other than that I'm sorry things or so difficult for you right now. I really hope you find a solution soon.

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When I was growing up my family was the only one in the neighborhood who wasn't "keeping up with the Joneses". It was a blue-collar neighborhood but all the men had steady jobs with either the electric company or some local union job. No one was rich, but no one was scratching out an existence but us.

 

My father was always being laid off. We lived, for a long time, under the poverty level for a family of 5. All I can say is that when my parents didn't point it out to us, us kids didn't really realize. It was only when they freaked out over finances, or my mother would bemoan everyone else having things we didn't that us kids noticed.

 

I am hoping that helps you as far as your kids are concerned. I don't know how old your kids are, but when they are young all then need are stable, loving parents and lots of family time. Because we only had one car growing up we would think it was a big thrill to sometimes all pack in the car and go with my father when he was making sales calls!
 

When you kids get older and start realizing they can't get the latest iphone, etc., then they will be old enough to have the facts explained to them.
 

Edited by Home'scool
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No real advice, other than to take it one day at a time,a nd try to focus on what IS good. but it's okay to want more. That's allowed. Can you make any friends in more similar circumstances, so you can vent and know they "get it" and are going through the same things? I think that helps a lot. 

 

That's something I think of often. Wishing we could meet people in similar circumstances just so someone can "get it". I just have pretty much never met anyone in our income level who has similar values. It's weird and frustrating. For one thing, anyone I've ever met with a similar background to mine (abuse, neglect, drugs etc) is definitely not doing the Christian homeschool thing. Or the married thing. 

 

We're this weird isolated anomaly doing things that no one in similar circumstances is doing. 

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A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Proverbs 14:30

 

Your life is very hard now, and you feel the pain of not giving your children what you believe they need. I think if you ask the Lord to help you let go of your bitterness and jealousy, you will find that you have more energy for changing your future. Try to stop comparing your life to those who have more or less. After all, you don't want a better life for the sake of competition. Seek out scriptures that give you hope and energy

 

I am so sorry for your circumstances, and I'm rooting for you, and praying too. It's obvious from your posts that you are smart, loving, and capable. Hugs.

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Oh, and this is going to sound a bit odd, but maybe do a read aloud from "The Long Winter", the Little House book? I swear nothing made me appreciate my own life as much as that book. Some of the others are idealized to a point that an outhouse and no running water sounds kind of fun, so they may not help, but that one...that one hit me hard. 

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I think you probably will spontaneously resent it from time to time, but I have lived below the income of all my friends at various times and learned to cope with it. I lived in HUD housing twice and it's awful. Just awful. It's not good for your kids and it's probably more mentally taxing than almost anything else. You and your dh are looking at ways to bring in more money, keep at it until you do.

 

Fill your head with positive things and focus on them as much as you can.

 

Enjoy the time with your kids while they are young, because that time is fleeting.

 

Read The Power of Now and practice those ideas. Live in the now.

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Maize that's another thing that's hard. I hear people's stories about their temporary poverty on their way to something better. It's never been anything other than this for us and it's hard to be encouraged because there's currently no plans, no light at the end of the tunnel. I am married to a man that has every good quality but is just not a high earner. And I have 3 kids and am in the "too poor to work" category, especially since we have actual goals like homeschool. 

 

But thank you for the input, everyone. 

 

If I could find a way to help those less fortunate it might help. I'm just overwhelmed with what's on my plate and seeking that out would be work and I don't know where to start. 

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That's something I think of often. Wishing we could meet people in similar circumstances just so someone can "get it". I just have pretty much never met anyone in our income level who has similar values. It's weird and frustrating. For one thing, anyone I've ever met with a similar background to mine (abuse, neglect, drugs etc) is definitely not doing the Christian homeschool thing. Or the married thing. 

 

We're this weird isolated anomaly doing things that no one in similar circumstances is doing. 

Don't let money separate you from other Christian friends.  Dh and I started out fairly poor and are now upper middle class if not upper class 20 years later.  We have been on both ends.  When I meet someone who is in a worse financial situation than us I do my best to be respectful of that.  Instead of it being hey lets buy lunch and meet at the park, it is lets pack a lunch and meet at the park.  We can still have our kids, our faith, our values, our outlook on life in common even if finances aren't and be great friends.

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I don't think you need to delete this post! Your feelings are valid given your situation. First stop beating yourself up about the way you feel.

 

What follows is just my opinion. Take it or leave it.

 

In the short-term focus on gratitude. Tough I know. I do mental gratitude lists whenever I feel like this. I am divorced and I feel "less than" at virtually every homeschool event because I have no wedding ring or husband to support me. No one has a perfect life! I don't know the reality behind the exterior of other people's lives.

 

Second, you need more money. $29k to support 5 people is very little. That is why your living situation is so rough. Your husband needs to retrain and get a higher-paying job. That will allow you to move to a better area and save for your own home. It is a short-term sacrifice for the long-term. In your position I would look at getting a CDL license. Yes, he will be away from home. But those guys earn a lot of money and progress to home routes. There are other options but off the top of my head that is the easiest and quickest I can think of. If he gets a hazmat certification he can make around 50-80k.

 

Nothing is going to come quick or easy. But I assume you are young enough to work to longer term goals.

 

You are miserable. Acknowledge that. Change it.

Edited by hedwigtheowl
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Did you ever see that movie 'Inside Out?' It personifies emotions. 

I don't know if it would work for you, (me not being a nice Christian lady, but the sort of person who gets more comfort out of negative mantras than positive ones) but I have a few objects sitting here that represent people/wishes/stuff. Most of the time they are there specifically so I can ignore them. It's much easier to ignore them when they are objects outside of my head.

 

Actually, you've just inspired an idea. I'm expecting to have a revolting day tomorrow but I have some chalk here. I'm going to draw a picture on my wall of the revolting stuff so I can scowl at it/pretend it is scowling at me so I can feel justified in scowling back and to inspire me to work the crap just to spite it, then, when that doesn't work, I'm going to wipe it off the wall. See how it likes that! Ha!

If I had a camera, I'd take a photo so you could see.

Hmm. That sounds kind of nuts, but sometimes messing with your own head is what you need to get through. And tomorrow is going to be a particularly lousy day in a life that generally sucks. Which is not to say it is all bad, but it generally sucks when you feel you live in a cage you can't break open.

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I deal with a lot of this, but not to the extent that you do. I struggle with the bitterness, the unfairness of it all. Trying to make good decisions and still not getting anywhere because of circumstances out of our control. 

 

The thing that helps me the most is to try to avoid situations where the income discrepancy becomes obvious between myself and the people in my "tribe." (i.e. "Let's meet up at Chick-fil-a, museum, water park! While the kids play, we'll talk about soccer, gymnastics, home repairs and vacations!" :huh: ) It helps to read biographies. Not biographies of people who pulled themselves up from their bootstraps to fame and fortune, but missionaries, soldiers, scientists and inventors. Pray constantly that God would bless you with the proper perspective, read the Bible!

 

Get outside as much as you can. The outdoors will help you and the kiddos, and will give you more breathing room. Do you have a playground within walking distance? Even if it is full of unsavory folks, you'll be there to watch like a hawk, and there might be one or two other families that frequent it regardless. You might get to know them. 

 

<hug>

Edited by SamanthaCarter
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Don't quote, don't quote, don't quote. Thank you :)

 

Envy and the resulting resentment and the resulting bitterness is pretty much a constant struggle for me. I want to be free from it. Maybe there's just no excuse. Maybe I just need to repent and ask for God to change me daily, each moment sometimes as it's trying to strangle me. And those are things I aim to do anyway. 

 

Here is the thing. My family (DH, me, kids) are "working class". My husband makes around $29K a year to support a family of 5. Because of overtime pay (he's paid hourly and does get time and a half when he works overtime) and our tax return, which we use strategically, on top of his normal pay, we are able to squeeze by. But it is not a lot. Do you know what it's like to support a family of 5 in a medium cost of living area on under $40K a year in the USA in 2016? I know we are blessed. God has always provided our needs. Yes, we are rich compared to people in Uganda. I'm talking about this specific context. 

 

Everyone in our group of friends and aquaintances is at least middle class. I don't know what their household incomes are but they all live in (own) homes that are 3+ times the size of ours, in safe, attractive neighborhoods. They either make significantly more money than us, and or are benefiting from there middle + class, in-tact family upbringing (inheriting homes and wealth etc) 

 

These are the people who homeschool and/ or have similar values to us. But I always feel out of place.

 

They can go to the baby showers they're invited to a buy a gift without sweating grocery money.

 

They can homeschool and cope with the daily stress and grind knowing there's never a vacation or trip far off to give them a change of scenery and refreshment while the only time we go somewhere overnight is when my toddler's asthma puts him in the hospital. 

 

They can nit pick their home's details like flooring and paint while we rent a place that has disgusting asthma/ allergy trigger carpet for my kids that the landlord won't allow us to change partly because he seems to want to keep this place in the crappiest possible condition to avoid tax increases on it (he came over recently to take pics for this exact purpose... to prove how crappy it is). 

 

Their kids can walk down the street or play outside without broken glass and trash covering everything. 

 

They have yards beigger than the size of a pickup truck. 

 

They have all kinds of space and playrooms the size of our entire house while we struggle to find places for things. 

 

They don't have registered sex offenders leering at them 2 doors down as they drive down the street. 

 

They don't have haggard, poverty-worn individuals drinking adult beverages outside and mad-dogging them. 

 

They are not the racial minority in their neighborhood (no matter what color you are, this is challenging) 

 

They are buddies with their neighboors because they're all alike. 

 

They don't share a driveway with 8 of their neighbors' cars like we do because they can afford space. 

 

SRESS. Did I mention stress? I am cranky because of many of the above mentioned things. It is hard not to be. 

 

And if I share these things with them I'm afraid it's just going to be awkward and a relationship-killer. 

 

There's more but I don't want to get too carried away. I will delete this soon. Just wanted some perspective and help if possible. I don't like feeling this way. We are trying hard to change things, but it's not as easy as the "boot strap" enthusiats make it sound. Believe me. Things may never change. I could die tomorrow. I don't want to spend my life bitter. 

((((hugs))))

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I can totally see why you are frustrated.

 

If I may make one point/suggestion...People of all income levels suffer from envy and bitterness. I cannot begin to tell you the times I have looked at someone who had more than me and felt envy, jealousy, and bitterness. I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn't about the "stuff", it was about my heart. I have always envied those who have a nicer house than mine. I realized that there will ALWAYS be someone with a nicer house than mine. I realized that if we bought a nicer home that I would be content for a short period of time but that envy would begin to creep in. I know this for a fact because when we bought our home I remember feeling that I could never want for more. Well guess what! I was wrong! It wasn't long before I was again wishing I had more.

 

I would encourage you to dig deep down and begin to see it as a heart issue and not your situation. St. Paul says in Phillipians chapter 4, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

 

My heart goes out to you!

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Yes. Some of us know what it's like, every item on your list.

 

There are two things that I've always tried to keep in mind:

 

1. Even with the list of "can'ts" and "don't haves" we were always better off than 97% of the world's population! If the children have food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, and even some amusement, that's wealth. Don't let the world around you, that is largely built on credit, fool you about your poverty. Keep the big picture in mind.

 

2. Because of homeschooling, which is a choice, this lifestyle is a choice. I don't go to baby or bridal showers except for people poorer than me. I just don't. (And in those cases I'm giving homemade, usually.) If I want to play the middle class shower game where the well-to-do pass around nice stuff in their turn, I'll have to put my children in school so I can pay to play. I'm putting them in school over my dead body, so I am CHOOSING to live poor, to give my children something priceless.

 

It really does boil down to that. To live a working poor life, Mama has to be grateful, and Mama has to own her choices.

 

If Mama can't or won't, there is NO sin in that. That's the thing about choices; so few are truly right or wrong. There are a million ways to be a great Mom. OP, if you can't win this mental struggle, and instead you get motivated to do the ol' bootstraps routine even if your kids have to be in public school for you to do that, guess what? That's admirable. It's not giving up, it's taking charge. Get some training, get a career, move to a better school district, build a more comfortable and stable life.

 

If you can suck it up and get defiant about your right and CHOICE to homeschool, even if it hurts to struggle and be different, that's admirable, too. That's the route I chose. I don't regret keeping my young children out of school.

 

So either/or. Limbo land is the problem. Own it or move on to Plan B, because that's the only way to peace.

Edited by Tibbie Dunbar
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Did you ever see that movie 'Inside Out?' It personifies emotions. 

I don't know if it would work for you, (me not being a nice Christian lady, but the sort of person who gets more comfort out of negative mantras than positive ones) but I have a few objects sitting here that represent people/wishes/stuff. Most of the time they are there specifically so I can ignore them. It's much easier to ignore them when they are objects outside of my head.

 

Actually, you've just inspired an idea. I'm expecting to have a revolting day tomorrow but I have some chalk here. I'm going to draw a picture on my wall of the revolting stuff so I can scowl at it/pretend it is scowling at me so I can feel justified in scowling back and to inspire me to work the crap just to spite it, then, when that doesn't work, I'm going to wipe it off the wall. See how it likes that! Ha!

If I had a camera, I'd take a photo so you could see.

 

Hmm. That sounds kind of nuts, but sometimes messing with your own head is what you need to get through. And tomorrow is going to be a particularly lousy day in a life that generally sucks. Which is not to say it is all bad, but it generally sucks when you feel you live in a cage you can't break open.

I'll be mentally cheering for you tomorrow.

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Also, as for a light at the end of the tunnel, once your youngest is old enough for VPK, or kindergarten, could you get a job and afford a nicer area, with a decent school to put them in? I know that is a few years away, but it's something to think about. You will have given them a great start, and at that point they could go to school (for free) while you work a part time job. Even aftercare at that point, is not that expensive in many places. It was like, $35 a week when my son was in it. It wasn't my ideal, but at the time it was better than any other alternatives. Again, this doesn't fix the now, but might give you a light at the end of the tunnel. ( I know you said the school by you wasn't an option, but if you could get a job, perhaps you could afford a different school district to rent/live in. Or by then there may be some charter schools, etc.)

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I have dealt with a lot of this in the past, especially when my kids were younger and we were home schooling. My husband's income was 1/3-1/4 of what it is now, and we were raising/home schooling 4 (sometimes 5) kids. Now, we did have a nice home/property, but we bought it at a great price and did a lot of work to it. It was frustrating that my kids could never take music lessons, participate in other expensive extra-curricular activities (they had horses, but we couldn't afford for dd to compete like she could've), afford tutors/classes for subjects I felt I struggled to teach, etc.

 

I also struggled with things like buying gifts for showers and parties because it always affected our grocery budget, which was always tight. Many of my friends never seemed to have these struggles (of course, they may have and I just didn't know it).

 

I have prayed many times to be content, and thankful. I know in SO many ways I am blessed, and was then even if I couldn't see it. I was lucky to be home with my kids even if it was a struggle. I wouldn't give that time up for anything, and I'd give anything to have it back!

 

One suggestion I have for you is to look into purchasing a small home. You may have even less space to work with, but it'll be YOUR space, and you can do with it what you want! With interest rates right now, you can almost certainly find something that would be less than the cost of rent, and there are options like lease-purchase or owner financing that may work when conventional financing won't. It's worth looking into; you might have a more positive outlook if you were able to have something that's yours instead of being at the mercy of a jerky landlord.

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Yes. Some of us know what it's like, every item on your list.

 

There are two things that I've always tried to keep in mind:

 

1. Even with the list of "can'ts" and "don't haves" we were always better off than 97% of the world's population! If the children have food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, and even some amusement, that's wealth. Don't let the world around you, that is largely built on credit, fool you about your poverty. Keep the big picture in mind.

 

2. Because of homeschooling, which is a choice, this lifestyle is a choice. I don't go to baby or bridal showers except for people poorer than me. I just don't. (And in those cases I'm giving homemade, usually.) If I want to play the middle class shower game where the well-to-do pass around nice stuff in their turn, I'll have to put my children in school so I can pay to play. I'm putting them in school over my dead body, so I am CHOOSING to live poor, to give my children something priceless.

 

It really does boil down to that. To live a working poor life, Mama has to be grateful, and Mama has to own her choices.

 

If Mama can't or won't, there is NO sin in that. That's the thing about choices; so few are truly right or wrong. There are a million ways to be a great Mom. OP, if you can't win this mental struggle, and instead you get motivated to do the ol' bootstraps routine even if your kids have to be in public school for you to do that, guess what? That's admirable. It's not giving up, it's taking charge. Get some training, get a career, move to a better school district, build a more comfortable and stable life.

 

If you can suck it up and get defiant about your right and CHOICE to homeschool, even if it hurts to struggle and be different, that's admirable, too. That's the route I chose. I don't regret keeping my young children out of school.

 

So either/or. Limbo land is the problem. Own it or move on to Plan B, because that's the only way to peace.

 

I really appreciate this. This really is what it comes down to it. I have to make my choice and own it. Get both feet on the boat and pray for the strength to do it every day. 

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Sort of an aside but also related...

 

If I could tell people something from someone who is really living it, class imobility is a real thing. I know God can and does change circumstances in the uphill-est of battles. I know people are clever enough to pull their bootstraps and make it out of poverty in the US. At the same time, the barriers are a real thing. The mental and emotional exhaustion of living like this is a real thing. It is depleting. Coming from an effed up childhood and upbringing is a real thing, not just an excuse, though I know it can be. God help me. 

 

Also, I wish people would be REAL about what is enough money to live on and what isn't. There's so many out there writing articles and advice and dancing around things that people like us, when we were young and stupid, think, Oh they say $29K is basically middle class. They say that's a ton compared to real poverty in the world. Well guess what? (I'm not mad at anyone here, just saying) This may be enough (for a family with children) to survive, but in a way I feel like we were tricked into thinking we could live anything near the American dream like this. Not even close. Home ownership is not a thing for us and I want to stop thinking about it because it just upsets me. My husband works where the jobs are, where the houses are priced in a different financial universe from us. We could live in an extremely rural area and have a 4 hour commute? Would you want to do that?

Edited by pinkmint
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Oh, and this is going to sound a bit odd, but maybe do a read aloud from "The Long Winter", the Little House book? I swear nothing made me appreciate my own life as much as that book. Some of the others are idealized to a point that an outhouse and no running water sounds kind of fun, so they may not help, but that one...that one hit me hard.

No joke. The Long Winter really affected me when I read it as an adult aloud to ds. He was about 8 and didn't get my feelings.....not surprising because I read it when I was a kid and don't remember feeling that way.

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I've BTDT, then we moved further out to afford a place to live and invitations stopped. People didn't want to drive to visit (don't blame them) and we never knew if we'd have money to do things or not. the $10 in gas it took to do a roundtrip visit negated a lot of what we might have been able to do. 

 

I had to quit hanging out with people who ran to Starbucks every day or every other day. Ironically Starbucks used to be in same parking lot as Aldi and we would joke about spending $5 on one coffee or a weeks worth of groceries. The very few times I went to Starbucks I felt guilty knowing I should be headed in the other direction. 

 

Tibbie mentioned the homeschooling choice. By the time some of this "my life sucks" mindset crept in, we were well invested in homeschooling. I realized there were a plethora of craps that I would put up to finish homeschooling and being poor was one of them. I do not regret that choice (loads of self reflection in that sentence). Ds is doing well in college partially because of the way in which he was educated, more the attitude he gained than the material we covered. If he had been younger when it all hit the fan, I would have probably put him in school and worked for a few years, in hindsight that might have been a good anyway. But I do not regret homeschooling high school, it was his choice ultimately and the best choice for him. 

 

I am not envious anymore. Right now I'm beyond exhausted because of moving and helping my mom move - it's been one glitch after another and we're all on edge. I sometimes see people who seemingly never have had a real struggle in their lives (not here but in different places) and I wonder if they could handle a real emergency. I've leaned to embrace the "suck it up buttercup" mantra for myself. 

 

I am reminded of the slogan of if you're going through hell, just keep on moving, no one wants to stop there. One more day, one more thing handled. Then I look for the good in the day, it's usually buried in the crappiest of days. 

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Sort of an aside but also related...

 

If I could tell people something from someone who is really living it, class imobility is a real thing. I know God can and does change circumstances in the uphill-est of battles. I know people are clever enough to pull their bootstraps and make it out of poverty in the US. At the same time, the barriers are a real thing. The mental and emotional exhaustion of living like this is a real thing. It is depleting. Coming from an effed up childhood and upbringing is a real thing, not just an excuse, though I know it can be. God help me.

 

Also, I wish people would be REAL about what is enough money to live on and what isn't. There's so many out there writing articles and advice and dancing around things that people like us, when we were young and stupid, think, Oh they say $29K is basically middle class. They say that's a ton compared to real poverty in the world. Well guess what? (I'm not mad at anyone here, just saying) This may be enough to survive, but in a way I feel like we were tricked into thinking we could live anything near the American dream like this. Not even close. Home ownership is not a thing for us and I want to stop thinking about it because it just upsets me. My husband works where the jobs are, where the houses are priced in a different financial universe from us. We could live in an extremely rural area and have a 4 hour commute? Would you want to do that?

Pink, I really feel for you. And I don't want you to delete your post. It is helpful for others to read your story and to read our comments and suggestions without having to guess about what your post said.

 

I don't want you to give up and feel it is hopeless. It isn't. Life is constantly changing and new opportunities happen every day.

 

My Dh commutes an hour each way. We do that so we can have very inexpensive housing. There are areas where low income families can qualify for Rural Development houses to own...where part of your payment is made by the government. Also there are public housing in some places that are bigger and MUCH nicer than what you are describing as your surroundings.

 

I know up and moving is not an easy option.....but it is an option if you want better living conditions.

 

Are you fully taking advantage of all government programs for low income families? Snap, WIC, free medical insurance for your kids, free phone service, sometimes free internet.

 

i would also be talking to all of your friends who are living better and putting out there that you Really want a better place to live. You don't have to say everything to them that you say here....but it is very helpful to network your local friends for ideas. You never know....someone might have a rent house that they would love to rent to you at a reduced rate because you are a good family.

 

Just keep swimming.

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I am going to ask this because I would love to see deserving people get the help they need.

 

Have you applied for government subsidies?  I would think you would qualify.  I would think you need it to help out.  

 

Food banks here also don't ask for proof.  They just have food to hand out.  A friend said she hated it , and you had to stand in line for a while, but she did it for a couple of years when times were hard.  She still isn't "rolling in it" but she is doing better, and she is single, so it is a different situation.

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OP, I think you feel stressed and frustrated because you are stuck. 

 

A med student will work horrendous hours and share a cramped apartment because they know it is short-term and there are longer-term rewards.

 

So really the only practical option is for your husband to retrain. Even if it is tough, you will know that it is leading to better things.

 

It is OK to have dreams - to want to homeschool, to live in a bigger house, to live in a better area, to be able to go on vacation. Don't discount or abandon your dreams! But you have to make changes to get there......

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I really feel for PinkMint and a lot of the younger families starting out now. It really does seem harder and I'm just realizing this as I send my daughter to college and into the world. Everything is disproportionately more expensive. It's harder than ever to get an education and a home and she's getting advice from people who went through this phase of life 15-20 years ago when it really was logistically easier to afford school or get a home loan. Very few young families can afford to get by on one income anymore, and eeking by on one income for a few years until circumstances improved is how MANY people got their start in homeschooling.

 

I think it would be very interesting to see the numbers for low-income homeschoolers whose oldest children are just entering school. Geography also matters a great deal. Some locations are just harder and attempting to move when you barely make the rent is really tough. While patiently waiting for gradual improvement may have worked for some in the past, I don't see it panning out for the OP. An improvement in this situation seems contingent on drastic and uncomfortable change.

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I need to start out by saying that you have every right to your feelings. I don't really believe that there are *wrong* emotions, but envy isn't a very comfortable or productive one, so I think you are on the right track looking for ways to counteract it.

 

I think that the reality that is your life and your emotions about others are two different but interrelated problems.

 

I like what Tibbie said about choices. It might make the reality less painful if you thought, "I could go out and get a job. We could live another way, but today, I'm choosing homeschooling which I feel is even more important." I wonder if that change in perspective would make you feel less hopeless.

 

I think that you are right to continue looking at ways to improve your familiy's financial situation. I don't want anything I say after this to sound like you should stay stuck in a place that is bad for you.

 

On a completely emotional level, I agree that gratitude is the answer. While you are working to improve your situation long term, you can still find things to be happy about in the moment.

 

I did not grow up in a happy, intact home and I really could have been sucked down by it. One of my siblings has been. I developed a habit that really saved me. I call it "bad news, good news." Every time I think or say or notice of anything negative, I balance it with a positive.

 

"The kids left the sink on in the bathroom. The good news is that I know they are washing their hands."

 

"I moved away from my friends and family. The good news is that I'll make new friends and have a brand new start."

 

This is so ingrained in me that it is automatic. Every situation can be looked at from both sides. Again, this is not to minimize your situation, this is just away to train your outlook and your emotions in the moment.

 

I think another issue is that you are glamorizing other people's lives. everyone has tragedy in their lives. Some is caused by health issues or family or origin or natural disaster or unfaithfulness....the list keeps going on.

 

All of that is just to say keep working on long term solutions to get what you need, but in the moment rejoice in what you have, a smile from your kid, the smell of your husband's neck, a chance to sleep late...anything you can find that is good.

 

If you can focus on the tiny things you have that make you happy, the envy will dissolve on its own.

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Pinkmint, do you have people at church you could talk with about this? We have some families in similar situations who we've been able to assist with everything from child care to significant amounts of short term financial assistance to long term financial assistance along with "life counseling" (budgeting, career help, etc).

 

Emily

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Did you ever see that movie 'Inside Out?' It personifies emotions. 

I don't know if it would work for you, (me not being a nice Christian lady, but the sort of person who gets more comfort out of negative mantras than positive ones) but I have a few objects sitting here that represent people/wishes/stuff. Most of the time they are there specifically so I can ignore them. It's much easier to ignore them when they are objects outside of my head.

 

Actually, you've just inspired an idea. I'm expecting to have a revolting day tomorrow but I have some chalk here. I'm going to draw a picture on my wall of the revolting stuff so I can scowl at it/pretend it is scowling at me so I can feel justified in scowling back and to inspire me to work the crap just to spite it, then, when that doesn't work, I'm going to wipe it off the wall. See how it likes that! Ha!

If I had a camera, I'd take a photo so you could see.

 

Hmm. That sounds kind of nuts, but sometimes messing with your own head is what you need to get through. And tomorrow is going to be a particularly lousy day in a life that generally sucks. Which is not to say it is all bad, but it generally sucks when you feel you live in a cage you can't break open.

 

I do value what you have to say and I pray your revolting day is as not-bad as can be.

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I can totally see why you are frustrated.

 

If I may make one point/suggestion...People of all income levels suffer from envy and bitterness. I cannot begin to tell you the times I have looked at someone who had more than me and felt envy, jealousy, and bitterness. I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn't about the "stuff", it was about my heart. I have always envied those who have a nicer house than mine. I realized that there will ALWAYS be someone with a nicer house than mine. I realized that if we bought a nicer home that I would be content for a short period of time but that envy would begin to creep in. I know this for a fact because when we bought our home I remember feeling that I could never want for more. Well guess what! I was wrong! It wasn't long before I was again wishing I had more.

 

I would encourage you to dig deep down and begin to see it as a heart issue and not your situation. St. Paul says in Phillipians chapter 4, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

 

My heart goes out to you!

 

I have observed that is true. People of all standards of living seem to deal with envy of those who seem better off. I sincerly hope I can see it for what it is and not get stuck in that mindset when and if things improve. I will admit though, (wrong as I'm sure it is) I tell myself that my concerns are much less frivilous then theirs, in just wanting to live in a safe neighborhood for example. Who wouldn't want that? 

 

Anyway, if anyone has any input on this specifically, how do I respond when friends who make several times the amount of money we do lament about things they wish were better? I start to feel rage-y but I know that's no good. 

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Sort of an aside but also related...

 

Also not Christian, but yeah, listening to people who have always been upper class try to give advice about climbing out of poverty is both hilarious and awful. As if it somehow never crossed the minds of working class people to just make more money.  :rolleyes: Oh, silly me! Why didn't I think of that! I'll just have dh go out and get a high-paying job tomorrow.

 

We're at the whims of the availability of overtime at my dh's job. When there's plenty of overtime, we do okay. When there's no overtime, it's a struggle. We've also survived complete unemployment for more than a year, among other stuff, so I've been there.

 

I won't insult you by giving you idiotic money-making tips that you've doubtless already thought of. Seriously people, take note: M-turk should be illegal, and suggesting it is insulting. No one should get paid less than a buck an hour, and anyone who says in a chipper voice, "Well, at least it's something!" is an ass. A low-income person's time is just as valuable as everyone else's.

 

Being part of the homeschool community when you're broke kind of sucks. The demographics are skewed WAY toward the upper class, so it can feel like everyone is fabulously wealthy except you. I promise you that's not true, though. There was an article I saw a couple days ago that said half of people in the US live in poverty. Being broke is by far the norm in today's society, especially with our broken health care system.

 

My advice: avoid Pinterest and, if you have cable or Hulu or something, any show on HGTV. They make it seem like everyone and their dog lives in a professionally decorated, multi-million dollar home. They really don't. 

 

Also, criticism leveled against "the poor," (as if it's some monolith of identical people) from people who have never for a single day had to struggle financially is invalid. It can be painful to hear politicians talk about poor people being "takers," "moochers," or whatever the insult du jour is for the week. They also are asses. Remember that if everyone working a low wage job suddenly left to go off to college, or got a cushy white collar job, our economy and our country would collapse. Those low-paying working class jobs are the foundation of our society. Your dh is far more vital than some jerk on Wall Street getting paid a seven figure salary to move money around, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

 

Finally, you are allowed to be happy when you're broke. There's this prominent attitude that a person who is poor should never have anything nice, or healthy food, or be content in any way. You're allowed to buy yourself something nice if you have extra money without feeling bad about it. You're allowed to buy a latte and enjoy drinking it. It's okay. Don't ever let anyone make you feel bad about yourself just because they have more money than you, because I guarantee the people who bitch about poor people having cell phones or clothes that didn't come out of a dumpster have never struggled a day in their lives. You don't have to feel guilty about homeschooling when you're broke, either. There's no rule that says every person has to make as much money as possible. It's okay to say, "I could make more money, but homeschooling is more important."

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http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/538315-rich-and-poor-friends/page-1

 

My situation is not yours, and I won't pretend that it is.

 

I can commiserate on your friends/community having a much larger income. At the time, not one of our friends made less than $100k. It was so hard for me. I dealt with the same envy and resentment.

 

I wish I could say that God just totally changed my attitude. But I started giving up on connecting with the richer friends. I prayed for a "poor friend" and actively sought one out. After some time, God has given me 3! It's helped me so much with my perspective and feelings. More than anything, I think we don't want to feel alone.

 

Also, I got tired of hiding. Of being embarrassed about that stuff I couldn't control. For me, I found relief in speaking up. The more I do it, the easier it is to tell people that...

Eating out is not in our budget.

Sorry, we don't have the money to go to the zoo.

We're not saving for our kids college and it's unlikely we ever will be able to.

No, we're not taking a vacation this summer, as we can't afford it.

Yes, even though we could go to all the cheap/free things in our near big city, right now we have to watch what we spend on gas.

Even though you're sure our kids would love a new trampoline (insert all kinds of expensive kid toys), we don't spend that kind of money on kid toys, so it's a good thing they like playing with sticks and rocks.

 

I try to be positive. To point out that we LIKE free books from the library and finding deals on clothes at yard sales. We like camping, cooking from scratch, hanging out at home. I'm hearing a lot less of the comments about their big vacations and new this and that from some of these people than I used to. And a WHOLE lot less of the suggestions for expensive kid toys, expensive kid activities like ballet, expensive vacations. (It's so nice to stop hearing people tell us we HAVE to take our kids to Disney.) I'm actually more comfortable with those people once I started talking.

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Sending hugs...

 

There are three things I suspect I'd be doing in your shoes.

 

1)  Having two jars for money.  Every time I seriously felt bummed from this I'd put a quarter in each one.  The first would be for short term indulgences.  When it totaled enough, I'd buy ice cream or chocolate or go to a movie or whatever would be a quick treat for you and/or your family.  The second would be for something longer term.  It would continue to build for quite some time.  You might actually never spend it for years, but it would be there, offering hope.  And if something came up that seemed obtainable, it's your "go-to" jar.

 

2)  Reading books suggested before - those about missionaries or pioneers or others who lived their life outside the "get rich to be worthy" mentality.

 

3)  Keep networking around through church or homeschooling or whatever - anywhere - letting folks know your hubby would like a better job if they know of one out there.  If he needs training, are there options for obtaining that at community college or elsewhere?

 

I might add a 4th too.  If there were anything "I" could do for money - short things - taking care of pets while others vacation, watching kids for a date or something, I'd do that, but dedicate some of what I earned to each jar to keep the hope alive.

 

Best wishes to you - and kudos to you for keeping at it.  

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Ugh. That post was way too long. My advice in a nutshell: pray that you don't have to go it alone. That in some way, through a local friend, long distance internet friend, even a book, you can find someone who feels the same way.

 

A mentor, a companion, somebody who's in your shoes would help so much. I'm praying this for you.

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I have observed that is true. People of all standards of living seem to deal with envy of those who seem better off. I sincerly hope I can see it for what it is and not get stuck in that mindset when and if things improve. I will admit though, (wrong as I'm sure it is) I tell myself that my concerns are much less frivilous then theirs, in just wanting to live in a safe neighborhood for example. Who wouldn't want that? 

 

Anyway, if anyone has any input on this specifically, how do I respond when friends who make several times the amount of money we do lament about things they wish were better? I start to feel rage-y but I know that's no good. 

 

When paying the rent and putting food on the table is a struggle and you have to sit there listening to someone whine about not being able to afford the latest designer purse or whatever, feeling rage-y is a valid and sane reaction. 

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It is not easy to get a start, especially these days.

 

I don't take for granted the difficulty of this, but I suggest trying to think more about how far you have come than about how far you have to go.  You are Christian.  You are in a functional, good family.  You are homeschooling.  You are a good mother with a good husband.  This is tremendous progress.  

 

I'm sorry it's so hard.  The asthma thing would absolutely drive me BSC--I know what that is like from experience and it's draining and terrifying.  Plus it sounds like you're being strong for a whole neighborhood instead of being supported by it, which makes it even harder.  I don't honestly know what I would do in your circumstances, but that whole counting your blessings and focussing on how far you have come would be one of the daily practices I would try to start.  You are making generational progress.  Your kids can go farther, and that is the hope and expectation that you have and can instill in them.  

 

Here is a quote from John Adams:

 

“I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematicks and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, musick, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelaine.†John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780.

 

 

Also, I strongly suggest that you read and follow the steps in "Your Money Or Your Life".  For me, that book was crucial in changing my efforts at frugality from a deprivation to a strong choice of the best over the good.  

 

And I agree with the other advice you have gotten here--it's very good.  

 

(((Pinkmint)))

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I can totally see why you are frustrated.

 

If I may make one point/suggestion...People of all income levels suffer from envy and bitterness. I cannot begin to tell you the times I have looked at someone who had more than me and felt envy, jealousy, and bitterness. I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn't about the "stuff", it was about my heart. I have always envied those who have a nicer house than mine. I realized that there will ALWAYS be someone with a nicer house than mine. I realized that if we bought a nicer home that I would be content for a short period of time but that envy would begin to creep in. I know this for a fact because when we bought our home I remember feeling that I could never want for more. Well guess what! I was wrong! It wasn't long before I was again wishing I had more.

 

I would encourage you to dig deep down and begin to see it as a heart issue and not your situation. St. Paul says in Phillipians chapter 4, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

 

My heart goes out to you!

 

Thank you for responding. I'm not the op, but what you wrote is very helpful. I just printed out the verse and hung it on my wall.

 

OP, I understand. :grouphug: :grouphug:

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PinkMint, I'll be another who suggests that you seek out as much assistence as you can find if you haven't already. At the income level and family size you've stated, you are eligible for WIC for your younger kids, SNAP, free kids insurance in most states, and possibly a few other benefits. I know that a lot of the Christians I grew up with said it was shameful to take government assistence, but the Jesus those people worship wanted the children to be cared for, and the adults to have hope. Just because our society offers hope with SNAP doesn't make it bad.

 

The ability to problem-solve is often eaten up by stress. I speak from experience. When I'm panicking because I can't pay the bills, I can't figure out a way to fix the situation. It all looks impossible. A little help can ease the stress and give your brain room to find creative solutions.

 

As for envy, I choose to find a way, any way, to give what I can give. For much of my adult life, I've only had my time to give (I'll watch your child for two hours for free so you can go to the doctor, I'll pet sit for three months in exchange for living in your house (bonus: housing)). For a while, I didn't even have that (colicky, not sleeping children meant I couldn't even keep us together let alone give to others), but in those times, I still looked for ways I help and I reminded myself that it would get better someday. No, I didn't go to baby showers. I gave few gifts for special occasions, and all were frugal, and I cried sometimes because my kids needs therapies and I couldn't afford the co-pays, but there really is always something good. My kids got Me. They needed that. They are doing so much better because of the focused love and attention and the stability we have given them.

 

Hugs. I know exactly how you feel.

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Also Pink it seems to me there are two different things going on. You feel envious....but you also have some very real concerns with your living conditions. I would start researching every agency I can for help getting decent housing. Make a little noise about the asthma issue....you never know what might open up.....a grant, habitat for humanity, something.

 

And I am not trying to make it sound easy. I AM saying your concerns are legitimate concerns.

 

My Dh...in his first marriage.....was injured on the job and workers comp paid to retrain him. They moved into student family housing....they had a 3 month old and a 4 year old. His then wife went to work, Dh focused on school and taking care of the baby when he wasn't in class. It was scary as heck to a man who had not graduated high school and never turned on a computer. And he had always worked hard to take care of his family. But he got through two years of school and they managed to come out with no debt at all.

 

The truth is...the less you have the more help you qualify for. So if your husband quit his job and went back to school of some sort...you could work...you could probably still juggle homeschooling and child care between the two of you. This takes serious planning though.

 

As far as your envy.....we do all deal with that. But that is a seperate thing from your very real problems.

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If your credit is good, Habitat is a real possibility.

 

Do you know how it works?

 

You pay a non-interest bearing mortgage amount, often far less than rent would be.  You have some sort of commitment to stay there for a set period of time or the capital if you sell reverts to the nonprofit--I don't know how long that is, but it's reasonable given the low cost of ownership. 

 

The houses are plain but nice, and outfitted with modern conveniences.  Typically in my experience there are several fairly close together, so you meet others in the same boat. 

 

You commit as a family to spending 500 hours on physical building of the house--this time can be spent on your specific home or on others in the area.  Work by extended family members counts--I think work by friends might count as well but am not sure.  Habitat trains you in the skills you need and then you use those skills on whatever houses are being worked on that day. 

 

In the end you have a new home (or maybe a refurbished one, but usually a new one) that is clean, fresh, modern, and serviceable.  And it's YOURS.

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