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Money Is A Bad Joke

January 24, 2019

We paid for our children’s undergraduate college education.

That meant, one way or another, 30 years of cobbling together over $300,000 of cash. After taxes. In the meantime we took parenting seriously, and to us, that meant making how we make money allowing time to “be there” for our childrens’ lives.

That meant part time for my wife, my own architectural office for me (oh, and my ego was fed as well). So we knew there would never be enough money. And there has not been.

In making 1,500 payrolls without laying off an employee, I have been obsessed to the point of PTSD about money. And, perversely, for reasons I blame on my Lord And Savior, fully ¼ to 1/3 of what our office does starts out as pro bono for those who cannot afford what God has given me the ability to do: make buildings.

So Habitat, homeless shelters, churches, synagogues, Quaker Meeting Halls, summer camps, home town efforts all have gotten, no joke, $1M of services over the last 30 years, in direct competition for the 9 years of undergraduate tuition costs.

So cash in king – often a penniless one.

Each payday for my 5 employees, the depressing math is done, in my head, and my basic apprehension of my own spiritual net worth nosedives into malfeasance. I simply can never, ever, make enough money to feel validated by my income.

In truth, besides a Bezos or two, none of us are nourished by our cash. Money is the primary vehicle for full on inadequacy in this world. Everything has a price tag, every account has a balance, and the two almost never, ever make me fell happy clappy.

Faith in love or justice or simply in a marriage or for a child has a fluid scale of validation: sometimes fully joyful, sometimes despondent: But in money the joys are rare, because there is no end to our wants. Conversely, there is no lack of despondency when dealing with money because there is never an absence of need. So fear and inadequacy are deliriously dancing with money in my life.

This intractable debt forces faith.

My inadequacies are here, now and as real as my account balance. With each bill there is an indictment in the faith that made the bill in the first place. The college tuition, taxes, payroll, all of it are never joyfully overcome, their threat has simply be held at bay until the next bill comes due.

I have been terrorized enough by the corporal training of the fiscal violence of capitalism that receiving gifts is often difficult. Where is the bill for all that I have been given? There is no bill.

But everything has a bill, and I pay it. Except love. When I am loved I feel in debt, even though there is no bill. Transactions are an unending part of all our lives. Starting with money.

But God never sends a bill. Ever. I get it.

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