I thought the thought that everyone seems to think these days. “Time to throw it out and get a new one.” But then this voice in my head, perhaps my grandfather speaking to me from above, said, “Just flip the stupid thing over and see what’s wrong.” I could technically afford a new lawnmower. And the one we’ve had is about 9 years old. Every possible justification to get one of those new electric ones that I really want. This old beater of a lawnmower was just stuck. Push forward, nothing. Something is stuck. Wheels won’t turn, I don’t know. It was the perfect excuse to be out with the old and in with the new.
But I listened to that voice in my head and flipped it over. Some weld had popped loose and a big wedge-shaped chunk of steel was hanging down and digging into the ground. That’s what was stopping the mower. This wedge was digging into the ground. So I went to the garage, grabbed a crow bar and a four pound sledge, and I beat the snot out of it until it was jammed back up into where it looked like it belonged. And it stayed there. So then I flip it back over, pull the chord, and start mowing again. I was in a hurry because the neighbors are having a birthday party and I didn’t want to be mowing while they were having guests arrive. And now the mower is actually dramatically easier to push than it has been in years.
So why write a post about it? Well the main reason is I want all of you to know that I’m a real man who owns sledge hammers and crow bars and I hit stuff in my driveway. Mission accomplished. But this is nagging at me. I’m sort of having my “buy stuff all the time” persona stripped from me. I’ve totally lost the desire to buy a new bigger house worthy of a lawyer. I actually really love my car with 146,000 miles on it. And I like this lawnmower. I am so sick and tired of this constant pressure from television to replace everything I own. I’ve bought into this concept for a few decades and I’m starting to walk away from it.
Here’s the deal. We’re all broke. I don’t mean broke by today’s standards. Today, broke means you can’t afford to make your payments. But to our grandparents and great-grandparents you were broke if you even HAD payments. If you borrowed money to buy something it was because you were broke. Now, if you DON’T borrow money to buy something you must be too broke to afford the monthly payments.
We switched to paying cash for everything a couple of years ago and it has this rather liberating effect on our marriage and our lives. We don’t even use a debit card. I changes the smallest details. I need to keep track of how much gas is in my car and grab cash before I leave if I need to fill up. We’ve put our financial lives into reverse and paid off tens of thousands of dollars in debt since we started this mini financial revolution. This is my own personal small way of flipping the bird to all the advertising agencies that want so desperately to convince me that I need to replace everything in my house.
I don’t. And these people are not helping us. They are robbing us of our lives. Driving us to maintain two-income households and hand our kids off to daycare. They have tricked us into thinking that all this crap will make us happy. We talk a lot about the need to make sacrifices for God. But we really don’t. The things God wants for us will make us happy. They may also may us broke. But being broke just means we’ve cast off the junk that clever advertisers have made us believe will bring happiness.
And I’m tired of it. And done with it. My old house with tons of problems and a genuinely dangerous worn out driveway is just perfect for me. So is my aging car and my lawnmower than requires the occasional beating from a sledge hammer.
God has things in store for me that deliver a level of happiness that cannot be captured in the glossy pages of the Sunday morning sale papers.
Let’s quit paying money for all this crap and start using it for genuine joy. The joy of giving. Of helping someone without ever needing anything in return. Let’s all go make a ton of money, but keep driving our same worn out cars and keep pushing out same worn out lawnmowers. And let’s use what’s left over to chase down some amazing happiness.