I've been procrastinating on this post. In real life, I just got back from a week vacation and I have to go through a lot of mail and bills to figure out what we owe and where. I don't want to do it (shocker.) I will, but I'd so much rather be doing something else. Just like I'd so much rather pretend that I don't have money struggles so I can fit in with the rest of the world that makes me think I'm the only one who does! And that is a lie, so that's why I'm writing this - to show you how even when I'm broke I somehow, well I know why - have financial peace.
Speaking of Financial Peace, I have taken the Dave Ramsey course - twice. I love how practical he is about how to handle your money. But I realized this year something that's missing in his program - the emotional aspect. See, I don't know about you - but if you are anything like me when it comes to money, like you are with food? You might have a little more struggle than just "Ok, I can do this." You might have a little baggage tied up around it, you get what I'm saying?
Well, if you do then you'll understand what I mean when I tell you about the voice I've had for so long (an Unhealthy One). It likes to beat me up mentally and emotionally for not being "good enough" with money. It used to be about making as much money as my parents so I could be happy (thankfully that's not the case anymore). Then it was about learning how money was a way that I measured my worth (another one that is long gone.) Now it's about learning that I'm not a failure because I didn't get this "money" thing all figured out. It's just that I'm human and this is one of those areas that I have a little more to learn in learning how to make it WORK. (See how I don't say get rich). Money is something (like food) that we all use every day of our life. We can't get away from it (like food) so we've got to learn how to make it, use it, and manage it. But for some of us? It doesn't jump of a textbook page. It takes hard work. And sometimes we feel stupid (like me - the child of a major political fundraiser and corporate finance accountant). But we've got to just push through our feelings and make it work.
I already know that my goal in life isn't to be rich. If that's what God grants me someday, then I will use it for HIS good. But it's not my goal. It's not the place I'm seeking happiness. It's a way that I can participate in this world.
In case you are wondering, I won't give you all the boring details but I am one of those kids who never wanted for nothing and I still struggle with it. I haven't been taking advantage of someone else's wealth for a while now and let me tell you, it's been an emotionally grieving process. Why? Well..
I used to have people tell me that I'd never survive without my Dad because he always took care of me. And he did. I'm immensely grateful for that. But I'm also grateful for what I'm learning about how I handle money BECAUSE of that. I know I'm not the only one, a child of divorce, who had at least one parent that tried to buy them everything to make up for not being there. Yes, that's right. I can tell you, if you are in the middle of it, buying your kid everything they want (divorced or not) won't help you in the end, because they'll just come to expect it.
Before my Dad died I was making good money (relatively). At that point it wasn't about how much but that I was finally making it on my own. Yes, mid thirties and making it on my own. THAT to me was success. At that point I had a promising project with a national company that gave me hopes for even greater comforts for both my consulting and coaching business. They asked me to write a book for their audience (which I'd already been planning) and so I did.
Two weeks later my father died.
I found out about a life insurance policy my Dad had left me years ago. I was terrified because of how I knew I'd spent in the past, even thought I was in recovery. I also knew I had to take the time (1 year) to write this book so I prayed and I was given direction.
I spent that year and that money living, editing the book and self-publishing it, printing 3000 copies (not a cheap process). I spent the next year taking the time and money to build my business from the ground up with hopes that it would have this pie in the sky success (by now). I invested in my wedding day and my honeymoon. I invested in myself that first few years after Dad passed. In the eyes of many what would be trust fund babies, it would probably be chump change. In my eyes, it was a lot. In my world, with my insecurities around money, I beat myself up for quite a while and questioned myself about whether or not all the things I'd invested in were really "worth it". Yet, every single decision I made about it was done with prayer, listening and trusting God would take care of me in the end.
All of that being said, when the money was gone - it was hard for me to cherish everything I'd put into my new life and not look at how much of a failure I was. It's true that the devil used money as an attack dog for my spirit like nothing else. Not only that, emotionally it was like reliving my Dad's passing. Even more troubling, was that I was struggling with equating my self worth and my lack of ability to create financial abundance. It felt like I was back at square one thinking my worth was based on whether or not I could MAKE the money. For a while I wanted to blame others. But then I realized, just recently - that being the victim of these circumstances wasn't going to get me anywhere.
If I wasn't this soaring success based on my "own" will in trying to reach success, then I know because I know God - that this success is for HIS kingdom and not MY own glory. I also know that HE will do what HE can do WAY MORE than I could ever do with something I've got. Today, I am still standing behind the work of Healthy Voice. I know that God will show me the way to fund this cause because it's for HIM.
My husband and I are living in a one income household that is modest. He has to work Saturdays much of the time, which is nothing to complain about, but it's something as a privileged kid I never understood before. But today, I know that it IS what IT IS. In fact, it helps me value my husband, his work ethic, our time together, and the dollar much more than I did before. I know I DID choose this life. I also know I chose to follow Christ and in HIS world, it's just not about me, or the almighty dollar.
Do I need to make money? Yes. But I know today I've got to give Him what I've got and let him take care of the rest, which in this world isn't quite the norm. I know that my work is ministry. I don't know HOW to start, but I know if it's got something to do with HIM, then he's already got me started and will show me the rest of the way. He will give me everything I need as he's done THUS far so I can give the most of what I've got for HIS purpose.
Did I spent a WHOLE lot of years dependent on my parents financially? Yes. I have worked through A LOT of it. Do I still have work to do? Yes. But I just keep walking. I know I don't have to be the victim. I don't have to blame the situation of being a child of divorce who was given everything I wanted. I don't have to blame the situation that we aren't rolling in dough.
I can be IMMENSELY grateful for every single thing they gave me to contribute to who I am today. I can also be grateful to know that even though my mind or my eyes, might want me to keep up with the Joneses, it's my heart and spirit that remind me how lucky I am to have the greatest riches in life through my relationship with Jesus Christ.
There is not one material thing that could replace that, or fill that in the way HE can. I feel so lucky to know that. I feel lucky to know I can step away from that kind of life or conversation and just be okay with who I am, with what I've got and who God's got me becoming.
For when it comes to the day I go to heaven, I know it's going to be about the relationships and the lives God's touched through me - not the material things I'll bring with me. And my Dad in his life may have had some nice "things", but in the end it truly was those who loved him and showed up to say goodbye.
A Little Wisdom
Even though Dad and I struggled with financial codependence, I'm grateful today we had the experience. Why? Because now I can carry the message and let God make my mess HIS message. So,
If you are a parent, know that buying your kids everything won't fill any holes in their hearts (or yours). But a loving relationship with God will replace any want or need you may think can be fixed with a purchase. The best thing you can do is find a deeper relationship with Him to show them by example your hope rests in Him.
If you are a child growing up with wealth or without it - I hope you know that your worth does not lie in what you are lacking financially or the abundance you have financially.
Your worth rests with your Creator who bought you at a price. If you ARE a wealthy kid, who struggles with low self-esteem or addictions that go along with having a lot of money and you are struggling - know that you are not alone. Know that you don't have to hide behind the money or the idea that, "Everything's fine because we look fine!" There are kids who've gone through it too and found themselves on the other side much happier than they did when they were using the money for self-destructive ways. More than anything, I want you to know that whatever your net worth - I don't care how many millions or billions you stand to inherit - your self-worth rests in the Lord. There isn't anything that money can buy that can give you that.
And if you wish and wish you HAD that kind of money because there is just so much you can do with it, think of those kids who DO have it and are STILL struggling. Get out of your own way in thinking that IS where hope and happiness lies.
My own Reflection
Today, I'm growing in my journey and recognizing how much God loves me and wants me to share the gifts he's given me (not financial) that he wants me to share with the world. I am learning to trust (this has been the hardest one) that if I just give him EVERYTHING I'VE GOT, he'll do EVERYTHING HE'S got. I don't have to wonder if he's really got me covered. I just have to TRUST that he truly DOES! And that in itself is a process.
So all this being said - I can tell you that I DO have financial peace today, even with not much in my bank account and a feeling that sometimes I can't just get the finances all "right." You know, that little blue box? I DO have financial brokenness and I'm okay with that. Why? Because if I didn't, I wouldn't be trusting God to do what He can with what HE'S got planned for me that had got NOTHING to do with my plan.
Do the most you can with what you've got. If you've got money, put it where your heart is, towards the people and the causes that mean the most to you. If you don't, know that having it doesn't determine your worth and not having it doesn't mean you have no worth. Your worth lies in something so much greater and I hope this blog has given you an idea of what that might mean for you in this life.