“I walked by the field of a certain lazy fellow and saw that it was overgrown with thorns, and covered with weeds; and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked, I learned this lesson: ‘A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest’ means that poverty will break in upon you suddenly like a robber, and violently like a bandit” (Proverbs 24:28-34)
My overgrown yard is intentional. Any thorns found come from stands of wild blackberries that I allow to grow–albeit with some pruning and careful maintenance to keep them from completely overtaking everything else–and the “weeds” are actually wild herbs like mullein (Verbascum thapsis), dandelion (Taraxicum officinalis) and red clover (Trifolium pratense), all of which have medicinal properties and are allowed to grow for that reason.
However, the above piece of Scripture does play into the common mindset about a yard that is seemingly unkempt: that the person who lives in that particular home is lazy. We never stop to consider that they are struggling in some way. They could be elderly with no children or grandchildren to help them (or maybe it’s their kids and grandkids who are too lazy/busy to help…). They could be disabled. They could be overwhelmed with bigger responsibilities–like an aging parent, whose home they are taking care of in absence of their own. Maybe they’re single and struggle to keep up alone. They could be a young couple fallen on hard times…or an aging couple with health issues. And, in each of these cases, they likely cannot afford to hire out. There are myriad reasons why someone’s home may not be ready for the cover of Better Homes and Gardens‘ magazine. Yet we judge…as the author of this Proverb did.
No, it’s not really a criticism of the Bible itself. I’m guessing, because He knows our hearts, that the subject who prompted this Proverb was truly a lazy body and slept all day, not getting a lick of work done. And, in my present struggles, I can honestly admit to allowing overwhelm and despair to win-out in the ambition department, from time to time, as I struggle to get back on my financial feet. But we cannot use this Scripture to judge every single soul whose dwelling is less than our stellar expectations. Such a judgment smacks of, well, judgment but also, materialism.
Who decided what is “pristine” and what is “unkempt” in our society? Why does the rolling green, blunt-cut lawn, with its host of chemicals polluting our soil, our water supply, even the air we breathe, constitute acceptable when the unkempt space, one that seldom sees even a carbon monoxide-guzzling lawnmower, equals unacceptable? That pristine lawn, sadly, smacks of prestige. It’s a carryover from the English monarchy who had rolling green lawns surrounding their estates. However, England’s climate is more suitable for such…without the costly (in both dollars and environmental costs) expense of maintaining that lawn.
And, sadly, this mindset carries over into every other aspect of our lives. How often–and I’m owning my bad in this department myself–do we judge that person because they’re standing in line at a food pantry or breadline? By the low-income neighborhood they live in? By the clothes they wear? The car they drive? Or the public transportation they use because they can’t (or refuse to) afford the cost of an auto of their own? How often do we make assumptions based upon religion, color of skin, gender identity, country of origin, or even one’s weight? How often do we write a chapter of another person’s story with our judgments and assumptions?
Back in 2008, I worked three jobs + treated clients in Reflexology, Reiki, and Touch for Health to stay afloat. I lost the first part-time gig in late-2008, the full-time, corporate position in November 2009, and six months’ later, the part-time gig at a laundromat. This was during the economic crash. My clients also felt the pain of that crisis and stopped coming in for treatments. Thankfully, President Obama extended unemployment benefits to 99 weeks while struggling to create jobs for people. We’re only now starting to feel the benefits of those efforts…and we’re still seeing mostly part-time, minimum wage, seasonal and/or temporary positions (at least here in New England). However, even with the extension of benefits, I was forced to live off of my 401K while I continued to search for work to sustain me and mine. I found plenty of the aforementioned part-time gigs but they haven’t been enough to keep me afloat. I was forced to rely on mortgage assistance for a number of years. Finally, in 2017, I found a full-time position. It required a long commute, which ate up any money I might’ve been able to save for a rainy day, and was barely above minimum wage, but I loved what I did. The mortgage assistance had just run out, and I had made my first full mortgage payment without the assistance, when I slipped on the ice and fractured my shoulder. Now I’m behind on mortgage payments again…and it doesn’t look good. I worked a seasonal job throughout the summer. Now I’m working a temporary position, which looks promising on the full-time spectrum, but I’m not banking on anything yet.
Even if I get the position, there’s no guarantee that my mortgage company will do another modification to get me right-side up again. So I’m socking away every spare penny I can earn to try to keep foreclosure from happening…but it’s not easy. And I’ll admit to being scared down to the very tips of my toes. I feel like I’m in a race that maybe I can’t win.
Maybe He doesn’t want me to win this one. Maybe He wants me to relocate. Maybe He has plans for me to be somewhere else and that’s why I’m no longer thriving here.
I get asked that one a lot: why don’t you move if things are so rough where you are?
The answer is simple: if I had the kind of money it would require to start over, I would also have the kind of money I need to catch up on my mortgage. And, with everything in default, how likely are my chances of buying another property in another state where I don’t have any job at all? And rents are just as prohibitive. This is a farm. I have animals to consider. I have my elderly mother living with me. Trust me…the free spirit would love to find land somewhere, put up a tiny cabin and live completely off-grid. Maybe, as I save and squirrel everything away, if push comes to shove, I’ll have enough to buy that piece of land.
But that’s a big “if”. I’m not banking on that either.
So I’m hurting right now. And the blog posts have been spotty at best. I feel like they’ve been a constant variation on the same theme most of this year, and if I hate redundancy, I don’t wish to bore my readers by catering to redundancy…in any form. So, I’ve refrained.
But maybe that’s where I’m wrong.
Writing this blog post this morning has actually been a sort of therapy. I can pour out my heart. And, while it may backlash somewhere along the way, or repel others (I’m thinking of that breadline I mentioned in the beginning…), I’m laying myself open anyway in the hopes that someone will read this and know of a resource I hadn’t considered that might help me get back up and running. Keep me in your prayers. Or, at the very least, please share the Go Fund Me campaign link that I’ve included below. Perhaps it will reach the right person willing and able to help…with my heart-felt gratitude for each and every prayer, share, suggestion, etc.
We’re not meant to struggle alone. We’re meant to be a community. Yet, when we’re hurting like this, we tend to retreat inward…as I have been doing. Though I cannot see the faces of my readers, my head is down in shame that somehow I have brought this all upon myself. Somehow, I caused a financial crisis throughout a whole nation…or intentionally hurt myself so I could “get a little more sleep, a little more slumber” and fold my “hands to rest”. But there is no rest in my heart right now…only angst.
May God bless you & keep you!