This is a guest series by Phil Cate. If you missed previous chapters, you can read them all by clicking on ‘Phil Cate’ under the Categories heading in the right panel. Watch for new installments every Friday.
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Let’s Make Some Money
Somehow I decided I was going to make happiness come around on its own. I turned my guns towards making every nickel I could make; and frankly, I got pretty good at it.
I was in the technology business, it was about to overheat in the late nineties, and those skills Billy and Jim had taught would buy me some well-earned happiness.
Kay was glad to help me with my bought happiness, as she had struggled as a single mom before I came along. Now we had buckets of money getting dumped on us.
We became the most self indulgent family I’ve ever seen. We ate out constantly, Kay lived at the mall, and I lived on my new boat or on the golf course. We were all dressed like department store billboards, and once again in my life, “we had it all”. We took very expensive vacations and bought new cars and were determined to get happy.
We never really found a good church home, but that worked out fine because we were busy golfing or boating or fishing or shopping anyway. We did join a church, but I really didn’t get anything out of it; so I was a one-Sunday-a-month kind of guy, and Kay had to work me to get that. No big deal, right? I had earned twelve Incompletes and a D-minus in high school, and it all worked out. An Incomplete and D-minus in my faith would surely work out, too.
Kay and I had both stumbled some in our youth, me particularly and totally. We set out to “show ‘em” (not even sure who “them” is, but we were sure working hard at showing them); and we were even brash enough to talk about it some. We’d show them that we had amounted to something, and then somehow we’d feel better about ourselves … right? After all, it was really “them” that had made us feel bad about ourselves, and we’d show them and get that black cloud away from us.
We worked really hard at it, too. I kept a nice lawn and a career and a golf game, and Kay decorated that third leg of the Triple Crown constantly.
There were a few problems, though, that I hadn’t foreseen.
First, we were tired all of the time and felt like we were running a foot race to “get there”.
Second, I had no idea you could make obscene amounts of money and still be broke. (But I could easily fix that; I’d just go make more next year. And I did.)
And third, and maybe most important, on this trek towards happiness through stuff, I couldn’t find the finish line. I guess I thought if we busted our butts for a couple years we could get enough stuff and we’d arrive in happy land. The whole system must’ve conspired against me, though; “they” kept coming up with more stuff to buy, more places to go, and more things to do. It always seemed just beyond my reach, and my wife and kids couldn’t quite “get there” either. There was always something more.
The financial pressure set in somewhere in the middle of this, and I thought, How in the world has this happened? I was just minding my own business, making scads of money, far more than I or anyone else ever thought I’d make; and yet we were broke and, even worse, in debt. Where was the complaint department? I was doing everything “they” told me to do, and we had huge cash flow, and we were miserable.
Somebody must be to blame — it must be Kay. She agreed, somebody must be to blame — it must be Phil.
We fought constantly and had absolutely no idea what to do. Privately, I really blamed God for all of this. After all, if he hadn’t taken Jim away, I wouldn’t be in this mess. Jim would’ve never let me get in this situation (and by the way, he really wouldn’t have); Jim would have counseled me to tithe first, give to the needy wherever I saw them, save proportionally to my income, invest proportionally to my income, avoid all debt and live on the rest.
Isn’t it funny (or not so funny) that I knew then and know now what Jim would’ve told me to do, yet I didn’t do it and then I blamed God for everything?
And this brings up a huge issue that we’ll get to at the end.
Next: Let’s Nuke It
Phil Cate is a resident of the Atlanta, Georgia, metro area and runs a small medical equipment resale business. He is available for speaking engagements and can be reached at PhilC@ER3.biz or by phone at 678-429-0901
Printed by permission from Phil Cate, Mama told me Jesus saved my soul, but who was gonna save my butt??? Confessions, lessons, and revelations of a born rebel, © 2008.