About a month ago, while standing in a group of people, the Apple watch my husband, John got me for our 32nd Wedding Anniversary buzzed letting me know I had an important news alert coming across the information highway also known as the internet. For those that don’t know about Apple watches, they are small computers that have the same features of a smart phone. Telling time and talking on the phone are just the tip of the iceberg to what this watch can do.
When I looked down on my wrist the words scrolling across my watch did not tell of an important life changing event like a war or a weather crisis, but instead read that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were getting a divorce. As if that is even slightly newsworthy, but I digress.
Then, this morning I awoke to news that Bill and Melinda Gates were getting a divorce when suddenly it hit me. These two couples, whether you have heard of them or not, are arguably some of the wealthiest people in the world.
How Rich are They?
Bill Gates ranks the fourth richest person in the world with an estimated value of $130 billion and, according to the Hollywood reporter, “Kanye West’s net worth has reportedly jumped to $6.6 billion, a figure that would make the rapper turned fashion mogul the richest Black person in America — although the estimate has sparked some debate.”
Kim Kardashian herself ranks sixth richest celebrity in the world and Melinda Gates, with her estimated $43 Billion, is one of the most powerful women in the world.
Together, these couples seem to have everything the world has to offer them. Fame, power, and more money than they can spend in ten lifetimes. Many would say they are the epitome of success.
How Broke Were We?
In contrast, when my husband and I got married, we only had $75 to our name. Seriously, we had no home, no furniture and one beat up old car. We literally had nothing and the only reason we had $75 was because John sold his 12-string guitar. This lack of money and belongings is a very scary thought considering 36% of marriages fail due to financial problems according to insider.com. Yet, we were happy as a pig in slop.
My father once told me a story about when he and my Mother were a young married couple they were so broke they had to look under all the cushions of the couch for spare change just so they could eat. He said it was the best time of their life.
So, what is missing from these super rich famous couples? Why couldn’t they, with all the trappings of success, succeed in marriage? Perhaps we need to redefine what success is.
Many people might even believe that wealth is a reflection of happiness or, dare I say, Godliness. But here is what the Bible says.
What the Bible Says
1 Timothy 6:5-10 says:
“And constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
Now does that mean that God does not want us to have nice possessions? I don’t think so. But it does mean that we should not seek those possessions for our contentment. And in Matthew 19:24 we are warned yet again about the pitfalls of wealth. “Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
My husband and I have come a long way since we were first married but it would not be the only time in our marriage that we only had $75 to our name.
Oh No Not Again
About eleven years ago, after a restaurant we owned closed, we stood at the door locking it for the last time realizing we were right back where we started with only $75 to our name. But this time we had a mortgage and two cars and a lot of other bills and responsibilities. What we did not have was doubt. We knew we had each other and together we would make it. And we also did not have time to stress about it. We had to pull up our britches and work together to get back on our feet.
Funny thing is, even when we have been poor as a church mouse, I have always felt successful. I have never attributed success to money, cars, jewelry, or power. In fact, no tangible item has ever made me feel better about myself or my life. That is something, in my opinion, that must come from within.
I look down at my Apple Watch to see the time and realize that this watch was not very cheap. It could possibly be the most expensive piece of jewelry my husband has ever bought me.
Am I Rich Now?
Does the watch make me look successful? What if I drove up in a Tesla with the watch on? What if I pulled out of a multi-million-dollar home in the Tesla with the watch on? To some, the answer might be yes! But the real success lies in the fact that after 32 years of marriage, we are still happily, joyfully, willingly in love and together.
I hope John and I never have to go through the hardship of only having only $75 to our name again, but whether we do or not, we will always be rich. Sadly, with all the money in the world Kim and Kanye, nor Bill and Melinda Gates can say that. Life is Mysterious.