Money Makes Me Claustrophobic

I was asked to fill in the blank. “Money makes me ___________.” And nothing came to mind. Not a single word. Good or bad. So I set the book aside and got on with my day. Hours later, climbing the stairs with a basket full of laundry balanced on my hip, the words were suddenly there. Money makes me claustrophobic.

It does? Does that even make sense? How can money make me claustrophobic? It’s thin metal alloys poured and stamped, fibers inked and cut and folded into wallets, tucked into pockets, collected in tins and jars and plastic tubs, saved and spent and counted and owed. But a catalyst for claustrophobia?

Yet as I folded the warm whites, I began to understand that for me, money represents expectations, responsibility, obligation. I never wanted to be a “have,” but I am, and that’s where I begin to sweat, awash in my own expectations. It’s why I sold my wedding ring right after my first son was born, because that ring, exquisite and bigger than I’d ever dreamed of, brought out the worst in me. I’d turn my hand to catch the light and someone’s attention, “subtly” letting them know I’d arrived, married well, lived fortunate – a have.

An ugly truth to face at forty-seven folding laundry. But true.

It’s where I rebel. Every time. Wearing my shoes indoors and my bare feet out. Choosing plain cotton and a minivan with 116,000 miles. Because bigger, better, new comes with more responsibility, obligation, expectation than I can handle. And it brings out the worst in me. Telling me to behave. Act responsibly. Hair in place. Polished smile. Fill in the calendar squares with smooth black ink. Keep moving. Till I can hardly breathe….

Claustrophobic.

Its not money, but my own expectations that hem me in, impatience rooting like steel in my soul, forging judgment critical and harsh till I lose the wonder in the crush of crumb-free, wrinkle-free, stain-free days, perfectly polished.

Because I’m not — perfect or polished — just me. Drawn to soft, black earth and irises blooming where they weren’t planted. Camera and lens and long, slow walks. Pulling weeds, trimming trees, pen and ink and cotton and denim and fleece in every season. Strong black tea, any temperature, all day long.

Simple.

Like the plain gold band we exchanged for my diamonds. For where there is no need, there is little freedom to explore or experiment or make do, to figure it out, be creative, try, because someone can simply be hired to do it right. Today. Why wait?

Yet it’s in the creating, the doing, the figuring out and getting our hands dirty that we begin to breathe, anointed by real, drenched in awe, far from airbrushed, light-balanced, political correctness bent on masking blemish and amputating imperfection. Irises blooming, simple and real and beautiful in all their human imperfection exactly where God planted them.

And maybe…just maybe…if held in that light, money too can be beautiful.

ts book club no border

Written in response to the discussion with Tweetspeak Poetry of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, Week Six: Recovering a Sense of Abundance…and…sigh…submitted late.

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6 Comments

Filed under Devotionals

6 responses to “Money Makes Me Claustrophobic

  1. Jody Collins

    Cindee–wow, this is so good….I love the way you weave all these words and thoughts together–and, better late than never.

    the lines I’ll be chewing on:
    “For where there is no need, there is little freedom to explore or experiment or make do, to figure it out, be creative, try, because someone can simply be hired to do it right. Today. wait?

    Yet it’s in the creating, the doing, the figuring out and getting our hands dirty that we begin to breathe, anointed by real, drenched in awe….”

    How would we ever know how big our God is unless we let Him be our ‘go to person’ when it comes to figuring things out?

    bless you!

  2. Thank you for this perspective, Cindee. One of the things I struggle with is PRIDE in my frugality; finding bargains; not going for the most expensive, biggest or shiniest and then telling everyone about it.

    But that’s just as bad as wanting the most expensive, biggest or shiniest because I’m still focusing on the aspect of money rather than the freedom and provision provided by God. You are so right that He should always be our focus. Always and forever.

    I so loved and agreed that the more stuff you have, the more responsibility you feel–to take care of all of it; keep it clean or in good use; put it someplace; not pile everything up around you like a fortress wall.

  3. pastordt

    I love this post, Cindee. And I can relate to a whole lot of it. I’ve lived 20 years longer than you have, so I’ve come to a bit more peace about being among the ‘haves’ but it’s still there. The expectations, the need to downplay, the almost-embarrassment of riches. But as Carol noted above, ANY over-emphasis on money, be it over-spending or over-saving leads to the same narrow focus. So if God has chosen to gift you with abundance – say ‘thank you,’ share it, enjoy it, use it to build the kingdom. I know you know that, so I wrote it down for both of us to remember. I’m not ‘perfect of polished’ either and at this stage of my life, I consider that a gift, too.

  4. Pingback: The Artist’s Way: Conclusion | TweetSpeak Poetry

  5. Someone dear sent me a photo of an iris today. After reading your post, I think I understand why.

  6. What does it mean that my green fibers are usually wadded, often washed? That I take it for granted? This is an awesome post, Cindee. I feel rich just having read it.

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