Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Soul Security

Today, while opening the mail I received a jolt to my stomach and a wound to my pride. This jolt came in the way of my yearly Social Security statement. As I peered down the column of earnings I noticed that I began working the first year I was able, at the ripe age of 15 in 1993. Impressed that the Social Security Office took such care to “know” my earnings and thus withholdings that long ago gave me a sense of belonging. I next noticed that the earnings (and thus withholdings) took a significant leap with each passing year. I went from earning 4 digits at summer time life guarding to earning 5 as a manager at a Christian university. I was also proud of the fact that not a year passed since ’93 that didn’t have a corresponding evidence of monetary accomplishment. I was feeling pretty self-important when my eyes fell to this last year: 2006. Next to 2006 there was the lowest number of all. Due to my having to quit my job and our move cross country for my husband’s job in ministry, I knew the earnings wouldn’t be much. But nothing would have prepared me for the reality of such a low number. Not even a cool $100, but a lowly $84 I earned while substitute teaching for one day. The one day I was able to work before being put on bed rest for premature labor. I don’t know what hit me. I closed the document in disgust.

I left my husband and baby sitting at the lunch table and retreated to my bedroom. As tears of shame filled my eyes, I knew that I was being silly. However, I still felt lacking. I felt that instead of helping us with our debt, I was contributing to it. I guiltily thought of the list of grocery and personal needs that I had on the kitchen counter. At first I was angry for having to be concerned about the cost of facial lotion and shampoo. Angry that we have to make the sacrifices that we do for my husband to work in ministry, then I was overcome with a wave of sorrow as I remembered the children I have seen in Ghana with their black skin turned white with dust and dryness. They have never heard of exfoliating creams and heavy moisturizers, much less a meal with all five food groups represented. Who am I to think I am mistreated for not being able to buy the latest beauty products? Still the shame of not contributing to our bottom line filled my mind.

About this time my husband came in announcing that he had to go back to work and that I should look at my statement again. He was so proud of himself, he couldn’t help but smile. He said, “See this isn’t a Social Security Statement, but a Soul Security Statement!” He had taken a pen and written over, added and marked out the words until it read something like this:

What Soul Security Means To You:

This Soul Security Statement will help you understand what Soul Security means to you and your family. Soul Security is for people of all ages…It can help you whether you’re young or old, male, Jew, Greek or female. It’s there for you when you more than retire and go to heaven. Soul Security also can provide benefits and help your family when you die. Remember, that Soul Security was never intended to be your only source of salvation. Soul Security can’t do it all, but God can.

Then in the “Soul” Earnings column for this last year he had added hundreds of thousands of dollars to my $84, with a note:

“Please see W2s on:

-Leif Wilder Jaworski and projected effects on the world.

-Subcontract work done through your husband, Jeff Jaworski, who despite being a rock head is working to bring the gospel to the world with your help.

Meanwhile our son, Leif had found his way into the bathroom and was doing his best impression of a porta-potty by playing in the commode.

As I peeled his soggy clothing off and put him into the bathtub, my tears turned to smiles and then laughter. I realized each day is filled with great earnings, as I care for my husband and son. These earnings may not be quantifiable in dollars, but they are treasures laid up in heaven…and that is where my heart is!


Electra said...

Thanks for writing this.

Frankly Frankie said...

Hi Dana....I have not seen you in a LONG time! Congratulations on your new arrival :)

I just read this little story for the second time with tears in my eyes....I know how you feel :) I have often felt the $DOLLARS$ people make mean more then the contributions woman of God make. I was a wife and mother and never had a job outside my home until my youngest was in high school....and I often felt like I did not give....but I have 2 happy healthy children who had their own mother raise them not a babysiter or nanny ME!!! That is huge to me. God see's our value and I am so happy Jeff see's it as well...that is HUGE! I know where your tears came from....I have had them too. Thanks for sharing...I needed to hear it to re-affirm my own beliefs :) God Bless
Frankie (from Homer Church of Christ)