My last post was a symbolic story somewhat summarizing my experience by being raised in a fundamentalist household.( MY SECRET DESERT MAP BECAUSE I AM JUST THAT SPECIAL! )This means that I was given a mental map of life that adhered to the Baptist fundamentalist ‘reality.’ And sadly, this ‘mental map’ has proved to be filled with huge gaps of information that ‘normal people’ have, it has factual errors, and in my case, it was also overlaid with destructive, negative thought patterns of folks who had very little idea of how to manage money, let alone invest it and make it grow.
It’s been said that you can’t give what you don’t have. And I wasn’t given any guidance or direction in this area. The messages I received from my Dad went along these lines. . .
- “Day late and dollar short!” I recall hearing this as young as 4 or 5 years old. In fact, it was my first real recollection of his commenting about money.
- ” For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”I Timothy 6:10
- “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23, 24
- We had older cars that seemed to require repair at inconvenient times, because Dad never, okay, rarely did maintenance on his cars.
- James 5: 1 – 5 slams rich folks seemingly in anger! “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.”
- I was taught that to be a friend of ‘the world’ was to be the enemy of God. I was not taught that I had to learn how to live successfully in the American culture. I was immersed in this type of thinking. . .“ And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6: 16-18
- Essentially, I was taught to be a loner, (be separated from the world, be a testimony to everyone, everywhere, all the time!) and it worked. A recent online personality test gave a high result in the Schizoid Personality Disorder. In a nutshell, this means that I have “a long-standing detachment from social relationships.” Oh, and just for kicks, I also ‘enjoyed’ scoring high in the Avoidant Personality Disorder. This means that I regularly experience feelings of being inadequate and am extremely sensitive to what others (external sources) think of me. (And this most likely originated in always trying to keep ‘God’ happy with me, obeying every authority over me, which apparently was everyone who was either an adult, or had more life experience than me. I developed a pretty strong sense of looking for external approval from everyone!) I think it’s pretty hilarious that I make my living in commission sales on a fast paced sales floor by initiating conversations with total strangers! And happily, I do it fairly well because to me, that is merely a performance, and I’ve got an entire lifetime of ‘performing’ for approval!
The confluence of Baptist Fundamentalism and Poor Man’s Thinking fused into a pseudo spiritual star in church. As we grew up, our family was obviously less prosperous than other church members. Yet, Dad worked hard, Mom kept us well fed, clothed with clean, pressed clothes. I learned from Mom that “we are lower middle class” and that “we could qualify for free school hot lunches” but we weren’t about to do that! And these kinds of things quite naturally raised a lot of questions in my mind between what I observed, and what I was taught from church.
Primarily, I was taught the following rather incongruous ideas from the Bible.
- God is our Heavenly Father who wants us to approach him as a child approaches his earthly Daddy. God loves us utterly, knows what we need before we even tell Him, and will give us what we need. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Matthew 6:7, 8
- But what I saw was that my parents worked hard, were highly respected in the churches we attended because their consistent on going faith in the face of obvious financial difficulties was obvious to all. Being poor seemed to be a mark of spirituality, and on a personal level, after seeing the hard-working sincerity of my parents, seeing them getting hurt by people in positions of power over them, made me feel very angry at all ‘the rich people’ and reinforced the Bible idea that seemed to teach that rich folks were greedy, did not put God first, (as my parents so obviously did), and they had obviously compromised with ‘the world’ otherwise, how else could they have accumulated all their money? How indeed? Perhaps they knew something about budgeting, investing, making money work for them that our family was utterly lacking. Rich folks were impure believers and bad.
So, did I want to grow up to be ‘bad person’ who put money ahead of God? Of course not! But neither did I want to grow up living relatively poor either. So what to do?
Despite all the Biblical promises, reassurances, the fundamentalist god, never, not even once, sent an ‘abundance’ of money our way. More telling, there was no magic in prayers about needed money by a certain time to meet a bill. There were ‘powerful people’ who seemingly took advantage of my folks that I still hurt when I remember the experiences. One such happened between the Landlord, Rex something, and my Mother as she went to ask for a refund of their deposit. Rex claimed that the back screen door was not ripped initially, and now it was, and refused to return any part of the deposit. Mom became pretty upset, almost crying as we stood there on his porch, powerless. I don’t know who was correct, but I can still feel the emotions of my crying, upset Mother and the coldness of the Landlord. Did God intervene, or somehow ‘bless’ my folks with money then? Of course not.
So, my financial mental map led me on a barren road on which the sun beat down, the dust rose up and choked me.
I choked up over what I was taught about how God is going to meet all my needs, loves me, vs. the reality of living. The cognitive dissonance was a very powerful motivator to my personal anger at God, and finally to my disbelief in this false imaginary deity.
Now, I am trying to play ‘catch up’ financially. Neither knowledge nor time are necessarily on my side, but one does the best one can.
I’ll probably be writing more about the different false life map pages that I was given and told were correct.