I confess: In the two years since my husband lost his job, I'm guilty of being green. With envy.
There's no real vacations for us (other than holidays, which relatives have paid for our gas to get there). No extras. No housekeeper (which I could desperately need a hand with!). No dates out as a couple. Appliance repairs or injuries result in financial turmoil. And that third child I wished for, frankly, isn't on the radar screen anymore.
But lately, I've been thinking. What would have been differently if that fateful day hadn't happened?
Sure, we'd have been out of debt, aside of college loans and our mortgage. We would have taken our kids to the beach, which my daughter's asked for lately, and Walt Disney World. Probably Acadia National Park as well.
We wouldn't have thought twice about private school, or date nights, or trading in our trusty decade-old, paid-off Echo that's made it through two tornadoes for a flashier hybrid.
We wouldn't have thought twice about picking up outfits for the kids because they were cute (not because we needed them) or because it was the latest holiday (my son was covered from Christmas, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day). Or a toy just because.
But here's the deal: I'm not sure if I would have liked that woman. Because this forced change in our life, planned or not, forced a few other changes in our lives. As a result, I'm more conscious of what I spend - not just on my family, but what I give to others. I notice more the little pleas for assistance and do what I can, even if it's a sale-priced package of toothpaste for a school drive. I'm more conscious of the groups that seem to spend away my small gifts on more solicitations to me for funds. And when I honestly look at things, the last two years have made me a more generous person compared to what I've been blessed with.
This change changed our hand in another matter: faith. When you don't depend on you anymore, your perception shifts, or at least it did for us. My husband, a self-professed agnostic, joined our church of his own volition. He'd considered it for several years, but the freedom of his schedule allowed him to take classes to explore it more. And this choice shifted me off the fencepost of neutrality - not not believing, mind you, but in a very much bare-minimum, status quo - into feeling. And while those feelings have spanned from anger and resentment to trust (and admittedly on days may be a range), at least I'm feeling something.
Finally, a family crisis teaches you who your true friends are and who is worth your energy in a relationship. And we've met other new friends who are more in tune with our values, which is an awesome thing.
I have no idea where our road will lead. But I have to believe, in the end, this was the best one for us.