“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Yesterday, I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s Radio Show podcast (which I HIGHLY recommend by the way) and at the end of one segment, he made the following quote…
“If it is good today, and bad tomorrow it’s the wrong financial decision. If it’s tough today, and great tomorrow it’s almost always the right financial decision.” – Dave Ramsey
This quote struck me for some reason. It hit me so hard that I stopped the playback, jumped back a minute to listen again and wrote it down. I just let it sink in a bit. It’s something that is so obvious, but I hadn’t ever put it into simple terms like this. While what Dave was talking about was in reference to finances and short vs. long-term gains, the premise goes so much deeper into life. The idea that if we’re only focused and only willing to see the short-term (today) benefit in something, it’s probably not going to be the best thing for us in life.
A quick story… After dinner yesterday, our dog Maverick (picture above) snuck out to the kitchen while we were not looking and swiped himself a corn cob. This is a big score for a little dog, but it can also be deadly. When we found him, he had already eaten about half of the corn cob. He had most of it on the floor in tiny bits from chewing it to pieces. The problem with corn cobs is that they can break off in large chunks, and form irregular shapes that dogs can’t pass through. About the worst thing that can happen is a GI tear and/or a blockage. Given how recent his “snack” was, we decided to give him some Hydrogen Peroxide mixed with ice cream. Hydrogen Peroxide, after about a 5-minute walk, will cause a dog to vomit. Our little dog got rid of the corn cob he had eaten. We had to make a tough choice now (make him vomit) to make sure that he has many great tomorrows ahead of him. (He is sleeping on the couch beside me in the picture as I write this blog entry.)
This idea is a hard one to get a grasp on if you only think about today. For some reason, as humans, we are not very good at planning for risk when it’s a long time from now. This may be partly because there’s enough risk, opportunity and “stuff” to deal with in the present that it’s easy to just go day-by-day and not consider the future. Why do all of the advertisements for financing promise low payments and low, low interest? It’s encouragement to go out and do something financially that may be good for today (100% dealer finance a car over 72 months, take out a HELOC to go on vacation, open a new credit card with that retailer to save 20% on your purchase today!), but they’re going to rear around and bite you tomorrow. Instead, why don’t we simply say “no” until we have the money saved?
It may be tough to hear friends and acquaintances talk about how they traded in their car for a brand new one and the new car smell is to die for. It may be tough to hear the same people bragging about taking a vacation this summer because they had a 0% APR intro offer on a credit card in the mail. It may be tough to see all of the new, latest and greatest stuff fill the lives of others. However, chasing the materialistic “good” today can rob you of the great financial tomorrow you can build. By choosing to sacrifice now, we pave the way to ensure that one day we don’t have to rely on the government or anyone else to take care of us. By choosing to sacrifice now, we gain a greater sense of contentment in our lives and in our marriage because we’re happy with where we are at. By choosing to sacrifice now, and get out of debt we are healing a cut that, while it may leave a scar, will not turn gangrenous while we hide it under a credit “band-aid”.
As a child, I hated being punished when I was caught doing wrong. Through the eyes of myself as a child, I didn’t see how tough it was for my parents to have to correct me. Many times I met the end of a lattice paddle when my butt needed some correcting. Thank God I was corrected, because what was tough on my parents in days past I truly believe shaped me into who I am today. Someday when we have children, I pray that we’ll be as effective in correcting and teaching our children the hard lessons they need to grow into adults that honor the Lord, their family, and their future spouse and children.
I want to look for more places in my life where I can consciously make a choice to sacrifice a little today and not do the “good” thing today because I can wait and do something great tomorrow. I want to find places in my life where I look outside of who I am and what God has blessed me with and cultivate contentment there instead. I’m not saying that life should be lived without any pleasures or good things to the point that we don’t go anywhere, don’t buy anything and don’t associate with anyone. That’s not it at all, the idea is that by recognizing where we can sacrifice instead of the splurge today, we can make sure that we’re being the best stewards of what we’ve been given in this life.