“We May be Poor but…”

It started off so innocently which made the contrast that much more painful. We were kidding around as our family often does at night. Ann had offered to make chocolate chip cookies — favorites of Amber and mine.  Then we discovered we were out of chocolate chips.

It was close to 9 pm and I wasn't excited about going out, so Ann suggested we make oatmeal cookies, then we realized we were also out of cranberries. In the midst of all this she said, "This is how poor people live…" or something to that effect.

That's it — 6 words that felt to me like a 250 pound thug had struck me in my solar plexus. Suddenly I was caught in such a powerfully painful reaction that I couldn't stay in the room. Over 14 hours later, I found myself still working through it. 

This time has been a strange experience as one part of me observes the other part of me in the midst of this painful emotional reaction — wondering — what's going on here. Clearly Ann's simple statement said in jest struck some very tender chord in me.

Transformation — It's Not Always Pretty
The first of this year I set an intention to have a breakthrough and transformation in my relationship to money, finance and numbers. I'm clear that this emotional upheaval is part of that transformational journey.  Ann and I are also in Mark Silver's Heart of Money Transformational Journey program, and no doubt that's a contributing factor.

This emotional upheaval and angst is what transformation sometimes looks and feels like.  Obviously, there's some deep emotional and spiritual wound that has been revealed, much like a physician palpates a patient's belly to find the tender area that suggests an inflamed appendix.

Ann is merely the physician, her comments the probing fingers. Now it's up to me to initiate the healing process with the loving salve of forgiveness.

Forgiveness – It's Not Always Easy
And whom is there to forgive? 

In asking that question, the first person who came up on the radar was Ann. This was fairly easy to do, since I realized upon reflection that her comment was not made maliciously. She had no way of knowing the hyper-reaction it would cause. Hell, I didn't even know. It caught us both by surprise.

Next on the radar screen was my mom and dad — both deceased, dad over 50 years, mom for about 13. Yes, sure enough, there's still some healing needed with them.

As the story goes, when dad died unexpectedly at 43 of a massive heart attack we had no savings or insurance to speak of.  Suddenly, the "bread winner" of the household was gone, leaving my "homemaker" mom with two young kids to raise on her own.  And we struggled for years to rebuild our life.

I've done a lot of work reflecting upon these 'formative years.' After all, that's part of my job as a Life On Purpose Coach. But this time I went deeper than I've ever gone before, and out of it came the realization that 'being poor' is like being successful. It's worth defining your own terms.

Being Poor – It's Not Always What You Thought
So, upon further reflection about what it means to be poor, this is what I came up with.

First, I consider poor to be a socio-economic term, and as such I can determine at what socio-economic level is someone poor. So, here's how I define it: Poor is being in a situation where you're not able to support yourself and/or your family and therefore need to call upon welfare to help provide for your basic necessities.  (Now, remember, this is my definition — you get to determine your own.)

So, the memorable term that I grew up hearing so often — "We might be poor but we're good Christian folk" — was inaccurate on two different levels.  First, we never had to call upon welfare. We always had good, wholesome food on the table, warm clothes on our back, and a warm, loving home to live in. Mom saw to that.

Second, the phrase mixes a socio-economic term with a spiritual term, so it's not only inaccurate, it's misleading. It's not comparing apples to apples.

So, the long and short of it, I realize I really have no need to forgive my mom or dad. I'm very clear they did the very best they could to raise their two boys well, and they did a good job — no harm, no foul.

Asking Forgiveness of the Poor
If there's any forgiveness to do, it's me asking forgiveness of the poor people of the world — the truly impoverished — those who struggle to stay warm and sheltered, to feed themselves and their children. I ask forgiveness because I've erroneously thought that poor people are bad, lazy, no account. 

Okay, no doubt there are those who are, I strongly suspect even they are doing the best they can. Who really knows what inner demons have taken over their lives. And for the many other poor people, that are doing their best, my heart goes out to them. I know what a struggle life can be when operating day in and day out from a place of fear and lack.

How much we can suffer, and how much of it is sometimes unnecessary, but more about that in next week's article.

Those 6 little words from Ann lead to some revealing insights for me. Living committed to ongoing transformation makes for an interesting life.

Now, it's your turn. What's your next area of transformation?

How can others around you support your intention to transform, even when they don't know they're doing so?

How could be more public about your intentions support you and others in living a life on purpose?

Why not start by sharing your thoughts on today's article right here by leaving a comment.