I'm here to tell you about my
love/hate relationship with the dreaded checkbook. It's like those awful, dramatic high school relationships where everything is about you or them- no compromise! That dang checking account has never has enough, no amount of planning keeps it in line, there are constant surprises where it gets mad at me all of a sudden and I don't know why, I give and give and give and all it does is take, and all of my hard work and attention goes unappreciated.
Sounds kind of like some marriages...including mine up until a few months ago. Maybe we really haven't outgrown our teenage tendencies. I get so nervous- I don't want to look at it, don't want to sit down and figure out a method that works, don't want to know that I came up short again. Honestly, I could probably pay off a lot of debt with what I've paid in overdraft fees just since I opened my first checking account. Scary. So what is stopping me from investing in my finances the way that I've learned to invest in my spouse, my children, my business... and my relationship with God. If I have sought His help (begged is more like it) with those relationships, let's talk about how we can seek His help in that relationship, too.
Relationship, Becky? Really? Well, I don't know what else you can call something that gives us so much concern, requires attention, is give-and-take, and will give absolutely nothing back if you don't learn what it needs from you. Sounds like a relationship to me! So what if we take the relationship approach as opposed to an idolatry one? My pastor said a few weeks ago in a service that what we give our worry to, we also give our worship. I'm drawing the line in the sand: my worry will now become my care.
Choosing to see this as a relationship allows me to see all of the ways that I've already seen God at work. If I can grant consideration to my husband's obligations, I can certainly apply that same consideration to my budget. If I cannot see a way to possibly consider even one more thing on that paper, I can pray for wisdom on a way for it to work with what we receive. If I can pray for understanding when my children are distraught, I can expect to receive understanding on why my financial circumstances are the way that they are. If I can pray for a friend or family member's illness, I can certainly pray for healing in the gaps between our needs and our provision. If I can pray for a miracle of someone battling too many life traumas at once, I can certainly pray for covering and miracles when there are not enough digits in my account to cover the ones on all of our bills. If I can pray for someone to have enough courage to finish their walk, I can surely pray for enough courage to open my register and look at it so that I can do all of the above.
Diligence can be exhausting. Diligence doesn't just knock on the door one day, come in and tend to everything. Some of us have been through some awful things where everything fell apart and we're scared to hope that it could possibly be put back together again. Some of us don't know what agreement we possibly could have made that allowed this to happen to us. Some of us are just so tired of all of it that a wing and a prayer are our life motto. "Being diligent hasn't done anything for me. It just makes me worry more." Yep, I had that thought. I have had the days where everything was perfect on paper, we had x amount left over. I've had months and months (and more months) where two days after payday, there's nothing left for the next twelve days. Take the Dave Ramsey course, they say. With what money? You're too cute. And so fear builds. Worry follows us like a sneaky shadow and pounces when least expected. We feel isolated. We feel ashamed. We don't want anyone to know exactly how bad it is.
And yet, we are the majority. 8 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
8. Out. Of. Ten.
What is going on here? What is missing? I'm diligent. I try. I pray. I believe. I hope. I cut corners. And I cry.
The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenty; but the thoughts of everyone who is hasty only to poverty.
See how important that word "thoughts" is? That's right, I italicized, made it bold, AND underlined it. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, "we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." So if we tend only to plenty and not haste ourselves to poverty, what does that mean for me?
- If our first thought is only that we do not have enough, then we walk that out. We cannot have hope for abundance without thinking plenty. If our first thought on an opportunity to increase our account balances is "I do not have time" or "that will probably cost too much to start up" then we have officially decided that it is not in the cards for us. Our opportunities are being written off because of a resistance to change or stepping out on faith, much less a simple Google to see how we could start small. That first thought is in agreement with poverty because we have successfully convinced ourselves that where we are is more beneficial to us than stepping out of where we are on faith, hope, and divine provision.
- If we focus on what we do have plenty of (resources, intelligence, creativity, talent, items) we can see the ways to use it for our good and be thankful for it. If we are diligent in using what we have, appreciating it, and don't rush to Amazon to add 27 things and a book to our cart (which is the way approximately 90% of my ventures started) and then become overwhelmed with the task we gave ourselves (poverty thought: physical waste AND misappropriated time), we aren't going to haste our way to poverty- and have a closet full of incomplete projects and dreams that we stole from ourselves. Plenty =/= set ourselves up for failure.
- If we are focusing on thinking life giving thoughts over our "plenty," then our words become life giving over that plenty, too. A large portion of good things that come to us are because we put good things out into the world (law of attraction). Our thoughts and words should be one of them. Our words open or close doors just like they can draw in opportunities, they can chase away the exact people you want to surround yourself with. Our thoughts are the rough draft of our words- I don't know about you, but I want to give voice to the plenty ones, not the poverty ones.
- BIG OUCH: haste = habit. So what is a habit that is super easy, done without second thought, that is a time killer and poverty feeder? What distracts from diligence and feeds errant thoughts? These are usually the biggest culprits. Let's stop investing in time-sucks that steal from our plenty. I'm not even going to elaborate on this one because I'm feeling all convicted. I'm sure y'all will hear about it on a #MondayMinutes one day, when I'm done licking my wounds.
- There is plenty and there is poverty. Each thought either pours into one or the other. There is no gray area here. Our finances can be used for us or against us in different ways because we are all different people. It can be our biggest distraction from our faith and trust in God or it can be used to keep us completely content where we are so that we do not have a pressing need to seek Him. Which kind of distraction is being used against you determines whether the concern about your checkbook is about you and our earthly needs and desires or your relationship with God.
- We become more comfortable with our faith and familiar with hope so that those panic attacks don't come on payday, and we can plan according to our plenty. We have tended to our plenty and poured into it in the spiritual, physical, and mental so that those needs can be met for our whole image. It is easier to see all of the ways that things move to our favor when we can look at them in the light. It is easier to believe in blessings when we remember that they exist in our lives and they come to us. It is easier to receive blessings when we don't discount them immediately and slap the hand that offers it.
Of course, my poverty thought habits and new plenty patterns may be similar to yours or completely different. The most important thing is practice and getting into the word to find out what is for you right where you are so that you can get where you're supposed to be. Know that you are not alone. Know that those other 7 out of the 10 in the room could use your support and encouragement to continue diligence even when it sucks. And let's draw comfort from the knowledge that where His people gather, there He is: a nation is not just a physical place but a gathering of believers and we will reclaim this nation.
Which of these was the most relevant for you? Drop a comment below and share this article with your friends!
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