It’s not about the money, actually.
It’s just about the value.
You’re valued. But that’s beside the point.
No, actually, that is the point.
I recently heard a story:
Two friends were given $5 each.
Tina had one five-dollar bill. Ted had five one-dollar bills.
They were hungry. No, starving. So they started walking to the nearest Wholesome Foods. Naturally.
Along the way they were stopped by a man selling a cigarette for exactly $1. He asked if they wanted one.
“No, thanks. I only have a five,” Tina politely declined.
“I have $1! I’ll take a cigarette!” Ted exclaimed. He thought maybe the cigarette would curb his appetite.
They kept walking.
Around the corner they saw a dollar slice pizza joint. It was right next to Wholesome Foods. And the sign read: “Pizza. Exactly $1 for exactly 1 slice.”
Ted threw his cigarette in the puddle. His eyes widened.
“We don’t have to wait for Wholesome Foods! I have $1!” he said.
“Ted! What we have is worth so much more,” Tina said. But she realized Ted didn’t see the full value of what he was given. So they went their separate ways.
Ted marched to the pizza joint to get his fill. Exactly $1 worth. But that wasn’t his last trade.
He went on to trade the rest of his money – exactly $1 for a beer (to wash down the pizza), exactly $1 for an online dating subscription (to cure his loneliness now that Tina was gone), and exactly $1 for a job listings website (to make his money back).
Now he didn’t have any money to spend at Wholesome Foods. But he went anyways. Hope dragged him in.
“I’m so hungry,” Ted complained under his breath.
As he walked through the doors his eyes widened again. The sign read: “Every item is exactly $5. Each.”
Stress, anger and frustration grew. He was so occupied in his mind that he nearly missed Tina on his way to the exit.
“Ted! I didn’t know you were coming. Meet Christian. We met in the checkout line. And, this may sound crazy, but (she whispered quietly) I think he’s the one.”
Ted didn’t know which would come first – his vomit, or his best attempt at a smile. He just wanted to get out of there. Their happiness made him sick. And all he could think about was how he was going to get his money back.
Then, in that moment, honesty took hold of his heart.
“Tina, I’m sorry. I just don’t have words. I want to be happy for you but I can’t think about anything except how empty I feel. I couldn’t resist all the distractions that took my money, my time, and my energy. None of them left me feeling satisfied. And you knew all along,” Ted grieved. He began weeping.
“Ted, it’s okay! Sometimes we don’t know what we’re hungry for. Now you see! And the good news is Christian paid for my meal. I’m full now. So you can have my $5,” Tina smiled. And she handed him the money.
“I don’t deserve this. But thank you,” Ted replied, comforted.
“Neither of us earned it in the first place,” Tina said, graciously.
Stories paint pictures. And pictures, like most art, convey different messages to different people. Here’s what I see:
1. We’re all given equal value. And we’re meant to save it for those things that will make us full.
2. We don’t always know what we’re hungry for.
3. It’s easy to give ourselves to distractions.
4. Women know what they want (before men).
5. Whole(some) Foods is expensive.
Everyone has a story. A picture they paint. But sometimes we're so focused on painting that we forget about the frame. So we're going frame shopping this Saturday. In NYC. Hope to see you there.