Resource scarcity, and our first instincts

Today, a simple thought.

Nicole and I are planning our wedding, and starting to hit some resistance. We can either afford to A) invite all of our friends and the people we love, or B) feed our guests a really nice meal, and have a fantastic set of decorations and ambience. We cannot do both (A) and (B) — our budget just won’t allow it*. That’s unfortunate. It doesn’t help that I’m leaning toward (A), and Nicole toward (B).

*Important: this is not a passive-aggressive whine about our budget — our parents have been extremely generous and we are unequivocally grateful.

We’ve gone back and forth in terms of planning. We’ve streamlined the budget as much as possible, shopped around for every possibility, and talked about all this endlessly — well okay, truthfully Nicole has done most of this. We’ve tried to massage the numbers and find clever solutions … but we’re getting frustrated. Our own faculties have been adequate to assess the situation and catalog some of our options … but we are at an impasse with regard to actually figuring out what the heck to do.

Yesterday we realized we should just ask Jesus to weigh in, and see if he might suggest anything clever or wise for our wedding.

… so we’re going to do that. And we’ll figure it out.

Meanwhile, I’m struck by the oddness that we had to realize we should pray through this. That seems dumb. Why was it not our first instinct?

My mind immediately goes to the matter of resources. If I can just speak for myself … I know that if I approach a set of decisions and my resources will be ample to handle any outcome, then I’ll gravitate toward quick decisions and even carelessness. If my budget isn’t stretched, there is a risk that my expenditure can be wanton, or at least my consideration will be shallow.

When my assets are more scarce, the situation is different. Scarcity creates pressure, and it creates a cost associated with any decision. If I’m trying to decide whether to go overseas or not, there is a very real cost associated with either decision — the realization of one path will mean the death of the other, and that can really be scary.

In the case of this wedding, our budget scarcity creates pressure — we can either choose quantity or quality for this thing, but the selection of one will almost surely mean the detriment of the other. Will we be regretful about the loss? Will we wish we’d gone the other way? On this end, we just cannot be sure. The tension and fear of that consideration drives us to our God, who surely has a better perspective on all this than we do.

But … it would be great if we could reverse the process. What if we had approached Jesus at the outset of our planning process, and let his wild creativity inform the design of this wedding from the start? What would have happened? Would we have cut through the chaff more quickly? Enjoyed the process more? Set our ourselves up for more gratitude and less disappointment? It’s interesting to consider.

What if we all made a habit of considering a choice mindfully with this God … before we even knew whether the decision will be costly or difficult? How would our lives be different?

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  1. i’ve been confronted with this in having to decide (stat!) where/with whom to live: 1) location 2) cost; when Jesus has wanted us all along to seek first his kingdom — in everything, not just the grandiose gestures of obedience & sacrifice.


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