January 27, 2011

My Journey (part 2)


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...

  


9 comments:

Laura said...

This is why I'm so glad to call you my friend. I appreciate your openness and honesty on a subject like this. We've been struggling with a similar story when my husband decided to switch career paths. Thankfully he is one that doesn't care what others think and so I've become accustomed to thinking the same way (in some respects). We decided to make it our goal to try and be different - as Dave Ramsey says, "Live like no one else so later we can Live like no one else." I've given up many of the extras including my nice car to buy a 97 beater suburban so we could have a cash reserve in case business wasn't coming in. I came to find out that I love it. Like you its become a fun game and the pressure it takes off my husband on not trying to keep up speaks volumes and draws us closer than ever. The one thing I hope comes out of this is that we can set an example to others that you don't have to have what everyone else has - which I've come to learn is a lot of debt.
I know God will bless your faithfulness through this journey and can't wait to see where He takes you (and me).

Eleanor said...

Gretchen- you are clever at leaving us hanging!!! I want more! :) I can relate but in some different ways. I will share it with you once you finish your story. I can't wait to read the rest...

Kay @ Off the Beaten Path said...

You're speaking to me girlfriend.

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Keep it coming...I totally relate to ALL you're saying.

Mom said...

We've grown (especially me, because I think it was more important to me) most in the "lean times" in life.
You have definitely shared your home more than anyone I know & everyone always feels so welcome there.
And debt is the harshest thief in life: it sucks people in so easily & steals the joy of watching God work in their lives. Sadly, I think there are more people than we could imagine who have fallen for the horrible lie that they "need" so much, then are miserable because they owe so much.
Hang in there my dear sweet one; you are rich in so many ways!

Joy for the Seasons said...

I look forward to hearing the rest of your story! Isn't it crazy how easily we can make our circumstances big and God small?

Surf Momma said...

Thank you for writing this. My husband and I have never had things come "easy" to us - even getting our son here & healthy had to be a challenge. And in the last few weeks my husband has lost his job. He has been amazing, I have been a total mess - catching myself staring off into selfishness and pity. I'm trying, we're praying, and we know we'll get through this. Reading this today was another gentle reminder that we will be alright. Thank you!

Sara said...

What a relief when we seek Christ and his goodness above the approval of man or material things! There is a great song by Michael Card called "Things We Leave Behind" that has really spoken to me on this very issue.

Kellie said...

I think we all face those moments in our lives... but in different ways and different times. Insecurity can shake your world in ways you could never imagine. That is where we have to remember God is our rock. It really isn't about us... it is all about the molding and shaping God is doing in our lives. I completely understand for I've been there and am still learning!