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Marriage and Family

A Valuable Secret: Self Denial

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09/01/2012 - What is it you really want for your life? Are you after a good job, financial comfort, a nice car and a large home? Maybe the monetary goals aren't really what drive you. Maybe what you desire is a healthy marriage and a strong family. You dream of having responsible kids and a respectful, loving spouse.

What are you willing to do for those goals? Some people selfishly stop at nothing, and have little to no concern over who they may hurt in their attempt to obtain these things. They may resort to criminal activity in order to gain monetary goods, place work above all loved ones and work to the detriment of themselves and those they care for. Some bounce from relationship to relationship quickly bailing out as soon as problems surface. Others turn into controlling, dictatorial parents. Still others may give up on their dreams and cease to put forth any effort in having a satisfactory life. They will fail to obtain or maintain work. They may be irresponsible with their finances or fail to invest in relationships.

Paradoxically, the best way to gain what you want is to deny yourself now. In the three areas of finances, marriage and kids, I will explain how denying yourself can help you achieve your goals. This is not intended to be a simplistic answer to all problems, rather a single principle which can be profoundly difficult to carry out.

Finances and monetary goods: I am not a financial counselor but this concept still applies. We are a people in a culture that desires immediate gratification. If we see something we desire, we buy it. Unfortunately, we are able to buy it even if we cannot afford it. Our debt grows while our savings dwindle. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck and still spending money on frivolous items. Financially secure people find ways to live well within their means and consistently build up savings. Dave Ramsey's popular quote is "to live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else." Are you willing to deny yourself the immediate gratification and invest for a better future?

Marriage: As a people we seem to be entering into marriages and relationships with the attitude that the relationship is for our own gratification. We are looking to be satisfied in the marriage rather than to satisfy. We are more focused on what we may be able to gain from the relationship with little concern to what we can give. A common statement is that we are "falling out of love" as if love was an emotion we are victim to rather than a behavior we commit to. A healthy marriage requires people who are self sacrificing. Their satisfaction lies within the giving, not the getting. Are you willing to deny yourself and invest in a better marriage?

Kids: A common myth that many parents hold is that their job is to keep their kids happy. We may bow to our kids' every need, doing everything in our power to keep them from going without. It doesn't take long before our kids begin to develop little egos of their own and behavioral problems surface. Then we attempt to place rules which our little self-entitled tots don't like. The war is then on, and for many families, the kids often win out. A parent's job primarily is to teach kids how to be responsible in life. A parent must teach their child that the world does not revolve around them. Behaviors have consequences; often others have to deal with the consequences as well. A solid parent will do the tough thing and allow their kids to be upset and unhappy. Sometimes that parent must be the source of that kid's unhappiness. I have heard it said that when a parent disciplines a child they are also disciplining themselves. Are you willing to deny yourself and invest in your child's future?

In all cases, if we want to have a satisfactory life, we must begin to deny ourselves.

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Rita Walsh

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