We live in a very affluent area. Our friends are attorneys, doctors, business owners. The difference in income had never been an issue for us, though. We worked hard and enjoyed life. My husband is one of those guys who can fix anything and his skills have been freely lent to those in need. Because of his line of business, we were able to build a large home (at cost) and we’ve always opened it to others to enjoy. We thrive on making others feel welcome and feeding the multitudes.
But when our financial burdens became great, along came feelings of jealousy. I have always been a bargain seeker, but now it was a requirement. I have never been high maintenance, but the pressure drove a wedge in my heart toward my high maintenance friends. How could they spend $200 on a purse when I am struggling to buy groceries for the week? My friends were having a hard time deciding which major sporting event to attend while I was having to decide which of my children's activities to cut from our budget. They had not changed, but my perception had been marred. Rather than being happy for their gain, I was being eroded by my fear. How will we be able to pay for college? Will my children's futures be impaired if they are not involved in extra curricular activities?
My dear husband would hold me as I cried and say, “We’re going to be okay. It will work out.” My response was, “I’m ready for it to be worked out now!” I felt abandoned by my heavenly father. How could a God of love allow these things to happen to us? We were already living within a tight budget. Why us? Why did our house get struck? Why did my husband have an accident? So many whys.
And so the pity party began.
I’ve been a good girl. We take care of our belongings. We try to share with others. We don’t take things for granted. We are not consumed with stuff. My husband works so hard.
For more than a year I struggled with these thoughts. I vacillated between feeling rejected by God and wallowing in self-pity. I watched my husband be broken; and then in typical male-fashion, move on. His faith was unwavering. He continued to say, “The Lord is watching over us.”
We chose to fight this together. How easily it could have caused a rift in our marriage, but we decided to weather this storm arm in arm. We became creative in our financial choices. We looked at our budget and cut everything we could, including car washes and haircuts. All nonessential household purchases (i.e. candles, fun pillows) were off the list. It was a big step for this interior design chick. But after a while it became a little game of how much could I NOT spend. Grandparents stepped in and helped tremendously with clothes and shoes for the kids. I took a part time job which turned out to be a wonderful experience. We stuck with our plan and began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
My heart began to mend as well. It was a long road; I won't deny it. I missed some joys because I was obsessing over what was hard. When I began to take my eyes off myself, His true beauty began to shine through.
I realized time and time again: It's not about me. Oh, I wanted it to be about me. Selfishness is a talented chameleon, isn't she?
To be continued...