This article was first published by Kyria.com. Though a couple more years have passed since I first wrote it, we are just recently coming out of this financial crisis and are striving to hold tightly to the lessons God taught us during this time.
If I had to look back on the past year and give thoughts on my life, it would be this: I’m embarrassed.
Actually, it’s more than that.
In the last year, my husband and I have suffered incredible financial setbacks. What began as him leaving a job where his paychecks were bouncing, to starting his own company during an incredibly difficult economy, was topped off with me losing my job—and the only steady income and security we had—nearly a year later.
While nothing will put you to the test like losing more than half of your income, nothing will leave you more embarrassed—mortified even—to cut back on everything in your life only to discover that you have been an incredibly wasteful person.
Over the course of our marriage, we’ve always been very blessed financially. With each job change came better positions and salary increases. Our wastefulness was born slowly, over the course of many years and completely unrecognized. We weren’t spending extravagantly. We didn’t have large toys sitting in our driveway or pictures of luxurious vacations dotting our mantle. Our negligence was in small choices made consistently over time. We used our excess income as opportunities to pamper our lives, to treat ourselves. It’s amazing how expensive these “small expenses” seemed once we didn’t have the excess money to spend on them.
Before our financial strain began, we already determined that we needed to use our money more wisely and pay off any debt we had accumulated. While we started on that goal—and saw success—we never fully adopted the mantra that less was more. We had become ungrateful for what we were given. An ungratefulness that was embarrassing to measure as it displayed itself so boldly before us.
Apparently, it would take us crashing to the cold hard bottom of the empty bank account to realize that we needed to refocus our spending. While we take complete responsibility for our irresponsibility and resulting downfall, we can look back now and see that God also played a role in our situation. Throughout our struggle, as we sank lower and lower down the ladder of success, God guided us along until we reached a point where we were finally able to take a long look upward and see that our spending was not only hurting ourselves and our family, but also those to whom our excess money could have helped.
At the bottom, we had to trust in God more than ever before. Our income no longer covered our needs, yet we were provided for each and every month. Though we had not been responsible with what we were given, God was faithful in taking care of us anyway.
As Hebrews 13:5 says:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”
Though our financial security was gone, our security in our Provider grew more than ever before. And, like never before, we realized that the money we were wasting was not our own.
As we begin the slow incline back towards stability, we know that we will make wiser choices. Whether small or large, the fact that we have money to spend is an incredible blessing. A gift. Money that is not our own, but given to us by the One who chooses to love us in spite of our misgivings. In spite of our mistakes. For that, we are grateful beyond measure.
Recently, I did a radio interview with Inside Out host, Martha Manikas-Foster, of Family Life Radio on the subject of Mindful Spending. You can listen to it here: http://www.fln.org/fln-news/podcasts/detail/inside-out-254-mindful-spending/