Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Lenten Season of My Life

Lent comes around every Spring and for certain Christians that means it is a time to give something up. (Yes, I know there has been a focus lately on taking things on, but I still think most people think of it as a time to give something up). For Catholics that means that you give up eating meat on Friday and try to find something personal (giving up candy) to sacrifice for 40 days. Growing up as an Episcopalian, I was allowed to eat meat on Fridays, but my parents did encourage me to give something up. For example I remember specifically giving up buying baseball/basketball cards in 5th grade.

Anyway, Lent is a good time to reflect on what you have and what you can do without. Also, it is helps you appreciate things like eating meat on a Friday or drinking Coke or buying baseball cards. There isn't a much better way of making you appreciate something than by taking it away.
    For a variety of reasons, I feel like my life is now focused on what I do not have and what has been given up. M and I do not live close to our family. We do not own a home. We do not have children. We don't even have a dog. We have jobs we like, but I can't say that we have the absolute best career ever. We are newly married 28 year olds, who are focused on improving our finances, job skills, experiences and basically preparing for the next stages in our life.

    One thing that comes from being in this down time in our life is that it gives us time to reflect on what we want in the future. I don't want to speak too much for M, but I think we both appreciate our families more now that we aren't around them. I genuinely enjoy hanging out with my family and hope to one day be closer to them. I would like to think I would still feel that way if I always lived within reasonable distance of them, but that might not be the case. There is no guarantee that if I always lived in Jackson that I wouldn't take them for granted or even worse resent them. Also, not owning a home has allowed us to have a few benefits:

    • We are saving money for a down payment.

    • We know so much more of what we don't want. (A garage door that actually opens when we want it to would be nice.)

    • Flexibility to move

    • A chance to take advantage of a stock market has gone up 13% over the past year.

    Finally, the fact that we don't have kids, but do know many people that are at that life stage has really focused our attention on what it is going to be like with kids. M and I are planning a trip to Europe partly because we know that that type of trip is going to be so much more difficult if we have children. It is nice being able to see a little bit into the future (thanks E) and making the proper preparation. You don't get a chance to do life over again, so it is important to take advantage of each stage of life. We might not have many big things, but that gives us the freedom that we will cherish for as long as it lasts.

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