Monday, March 06, 2006

reason escaped me

these past couple of weeks have been hard. not just the tides, but some storms of a financial sense have taken their toll. end of the month i guess. it feels all too familiar and i don't like it.

you see about 6-7 years ago the church we were at nearly bankrupted us. going into ministry ruined us financially. it was a very scary time. we were eating out of the food bank and buying diapers for pink and buck on credit. no one cared and we were very alone.

for the past 5 years we have determinedly crawled back out of that financial hole and became debt free, learned to save and had a steady income and lived simply and generously and within our means. i don't say any of that to pat ourselves on the back. i just need to lay a groundwork so that you might understand my fear, confusion and downright anger at god these past couple of weeks.

i truly believed we had planted seeds of generosity, that the overarching laws of the harvest would come to bear in our lives. i didn't want or even expect wealth or windfall, just not to go backwards. i truly believed in my heart of hearts that it worked. live openly and generously and it will come around if and when you need it too. moving up here was an exercise in letting go. free-cycling so much stuff that i had strangers emailing me to thank us for being generous instead of selling things. i love living like that. it is an area of gifting for me. i learned it at the knee of my father. he is one of the most generous people i know. hold things with an open hand. i wanted to be that type of person. i wanted to model that type of life for my children.

when much would not fit in the moving truck i sadly let it go. said goodbye to the oak claw foot table and press back chairs from my mom knowing, really knowing in my heart that god would supply exactly what we needed up here. that is why the junk we ended up with wounded me so deeply. it feels like lack. it feels like scarcity. it feels like poverty.

i loathe going backwards. i hate it. deep within my heart it makes me feel like i wasn't smart enough to learn it the first time so i had to have the lesson repeated for me because i didn't catch it the first time through. i pride (yes, and i have to admit, pride is the right word here) myself on extracting the truth from an experience. i ponder much. i chew and dwell and rehash nearly everything in an attempt to draw out meaning and learning. i don't want to go backwards.

this all felt far too familiar. this felt far too close to where we had been years ago. i figured if god didn't open one of the 45 doors to job postings and resumes sent that he would provide in other ways. i literally expected that somehow someone would be moved to share with us financially. someone would be moved to give so that we didn't have to go back into debt to make our bills. i would watch for the mailman, wait expectantly for that 'brethren handshake' (yes, our church tradition had a secret way of giving. someone in the church would shake another's hand and there passed folded bills or a check. it was their way of following what they believed to be the biblical way of giving. i have many times been the recipient, and even sometimes the giver of those handshakes), or some ray of light in the dark hole i could see us heading toward.

nothing came. nothing. no jobs, no checks, no handshakes. no light. and i was angry. so very angry at god. i mean spitting, swearing, wailing kind of angry. shake my fist and take my ball and go home kind of angry. and i told god. i told him how i loathed going backward. how we would gladly do any work put in front of us. how we knew his arm had not grown short. how we were living as simply as we could. freezing in 3 layers of clothing and sleeping with mittens on. what more did he want? how do you exercise any generosity, use this gift if you have nothing to give from. people in debt cannot live generously. and i wept. i confessed. i wailed and railed. and i felt like writing about it would betray my husband. like it might wound his already wounded self, so i was silent.

even among friends who called, family members didn't know how angry i was at god. how ashamed i felt for going backwards. it's not the kind of thing you can tell anyone without them feeling like you're asking. i didn't want them to provide out of guilt. i wanted god to step in and prove that living generously works. that planting seeds of a generous lifestyle reaped a life that when lived simply doesn't go backwards.

it was friday that it all crashed in on me. the bills got paid by the credit card. no miraculous interventions happened and i had to facilitate a celebration for my son who turned 8 on saturday. standing in the dollar store with my daughter so we could get buck his birthday presents and buying the 6 things i needed at the grocery store and having the cashier say 'oh, that's a credit card. i have to run the credit card through' like i had either stolen the card or was too inept to do it myself. the look she gave me was like 'charging milk are we?' i felt like trash. both stores reduced me to near puddles. if it hadn't been for pink along with me i think i would have just dropped to the floor in an ocean of keening wails.

liam and i spent some time that evening praying together on our knees at the couch. i begged god to make sense of this. to help us learn what we obviously missed the first time. to speak more clearly this time, more slowly so we could catch it. because obviously being held back in the school of kingdom finances was necessary. i'm not proud of my anger, of the words i said to god, but i do know that he can take it. i do know that my lament was necessary. i would endure this if i could just understand why. make some sense out of what seemed to me to be incredibly senseless.

yesterday before church liam and i were having our coffee. it felt like the cloud had lifted, if not financially, at least emotionally. as we were talking things started to fall into place. lights turned on and i realized that part, if not all of the reason that this was necessary was that if we are truly meant to minister in this part of the country that we need to understand first hand how difficult it is for so many of the families in our community to truly make ends meet. to find hard goods (table and chairs) and hold your head up in places like the grocery store when the world looks down on you. i was given great compassion instantly for those who have far less than i've been complaining about. and with the light came the mission. with the light came the conception of the plan. and making sense of the senseless gave me hope. and hope is all i really wanted in the first place.

1 comment:

the holly said...

thanks for sharing this. we are slogging through similar financial mire. the beginning of the month was so difficult for me. trying to find the balance between trusting and responsibility, ya know? taking a $9.25/hour job to pay someone to care for the el just doesn't make sense. so i slog on. actually, we slog on. trying to work our plan and trust...

thanks again!