Sunday, January 21, 2007


Money is an interesting teacher.

First, a little background. I've already written about how I grew up financially. We lived sale-to-sale on nothing and then like kings after one. This carried over to my first home on my own as an adult. At 22, I decided to quit delaying the inevitable, and went away to college. Due to my medical stuff and the fact that I treat it nutritionally, the private university that "required" all single students to live on campus and buy a dining room meal plan basically forced me to get my own apartment and move out of the dorms. This was great except for two things: I never made many close friends at school, and I did not have the money to live on my own.

I was in school as a music student full time (which all music students know means full time plus practice time. The schedule is insane.) The economy was not great at home so my parents' business hit a lull. I had to figure out how to even stay at school. I took I think 15 private piano students and charged them $15 per lesson. My own piano teacher who had most of her doctorate didn't make much more than that I don't think, and after asking what I charged, was furious with me for charging that much. Hey, people were willing to pay it and I gave them everything I had.

I barely scraped by each month on my piano income, and lived for the day that my school loans would be paid out to the school, and I could request and receive the refund check from the school for the amount I borrowed that went above the cost of tuition. Usually that check would come halfway through the semester. It was usually around $1500.

Having that much money all at once, finally, felt normal to me. I made up for lost time. I went tanning, bought new clothes, at one point bought a palm pilot. But most of all, I would go to Walmart. Every time I got one of those checks, I would spend at least $100-200 at Walmart. Now, I was basically setting up my own new household. I started with nothing, so I'm sure some of that "stuff" was necessary. However, I could have done without a whole lot of it. I remember hiking up the stairs to my third floor apartment, arms full of bags in triumph. I also remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I set all the bags on the folding table in my dining room and thought about how much I had spent and what it had bought. Why did I think I needed all those things? Nothing I bought was bad. It was kitchen utensils, things for my apartment like pillows for the couch, gardening stuff for the pots of flowers on my deck, etc. All of it useful and most of it was something about which I had said, "I wish I had a....(fill in the blank)." So, I had bought one. I also would buy a back-up for everything I used - from ziplock bags to hand soap. It felt better to me to never run out of anything.

Fast-forward to now. Nick and I are working through Dave Ramsey's teachings about debt and money management. We have made a promise to only spend cash that we have in hand. Recently, we realized that our groceries would not last until grocery day, so we stopped by the store to grab a few things. We had limited cash, but only needed to round out the fridge by a few things to make it through three days. We also needed diapers before more money would come. I went into the store...and spent almost every penny. No money for diapers. In the past, Nick would move bills around and smooth it over, even paying something late if we needed to, in order to accomodate my compulsion. This time, he gently suggested that I take back the extra things. Without even wrestling, I knew he was right. As I stood there feeling very conspicuous, watching the new guy at the register try to figure out how to return vegetables, I had a realization: It's all about provision.

That's what this is all about. A question...Will I have what I need? God, after this is gone and I have needs again, will You provide for me again? I fear the answer is no and therefore I hoard. My attempt at control. I can hold out for a while. I have my spare package of toilet paper. I can wait, even if You are late. Even if You forget I need money for food and deprive me for some time, I can provide for myself and my family out of my over-stocked pantry. It sounds so ridiculous, and yet "stuff" has been my security blanket. I have been through so many seasons when God's timing seemed to be off, that I stopped trusting and starting taking matters into my own hands. Instead of allowing my faith to grow and surrendering my sense of timing to His, I took provision on my own shoulders. Yuck.

I guess I post this because I doubt the problem is unique to me. I get such a sense of purpose from helping other people's lives to be better. The thought that I don't have to carry that weight anymore is incredibly freeing to me. If by chance you see yourself in this blog, maybe you can be freed also. I won't make this cheesy by drawing conclusions myself. You can do that. Just know that God is working in my heart through this process. I like stories like that. Thanks for reading mine.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, your blog on Sunday was very interesting. It literally brought me to tears! I feel the same way many times!