The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
— Henry David Thoreau
Consider the young man who was doing great in his high school studies, then suddenly started to fall behind. One day, a teacher pulled the young man aside and asked him what happened. The student told him that he had asked his father for a car, and the father told him that if he earned the money, he could have one. The student, being industrious and hard working, went out, got a job, saved the money, and bought the car. But then the car needed insurance, gas, and maintenance, so the student kept the job to keep up the car. The job took up more and more of his time, until finally he began to fall behind in his studies.
“Why don’t you just get rid of the car?” asked the teacher.
“Get rid of the car?” came the reply, “but how would I get to my job?”
How often we feel that if we just get that new car, that new boyfriend or girlfriend, that promotion, or the condo in the good neighborhood, we will find happiness and contentment —only to discover that the thing just brings with it more pain, more costs, and more bother than it’s worth. The new sports car runs only half the time, the new partner needs more care than your dog, the promotion eats up your weekends, and the new condo won’t allow pets.
Things don’t bring true happiness. Instead, they often sap your strength and leave you emptier than you were before. Think about the true cost of a thing before you pursue it—in time, lifestyle changes, energy, maintenance, and money. Can you really afford the amount of life that the thing will take from you in return for the happiness it brings? Are you willing to pay the price?
God, help me be aware of the true cost of the things in my life.