My husband, my dear, sweet, amazing husband, is working tonight. Like he has every night recently, even on Sundays, his one day off per week.
Tonight was supposed to be our date night, but he got stuck at work. He hasn't seen the kids for three days because work has pulled him out of town. When he is in town, he works nights, so he rarely sees them anyway. He and I see eachother in the morning, when I'm leaving to take the kids to school, a kiss on the cheek as I walk out the door.
Am I complaining? Maybe. Just a little. If I'm honest. But I'm also just sharing. Because I'm so proud of him.
He's willing to make the hard sacrifices in the short term to get where we want to be, as a family, in the long term. That's what love is (sacrificial). And that's what a husband does (provide). Even when it's hard. Even when it hurts.
I have to be honest: we've had a love/hate relationship with money since we got married. At times, we didn't think it mattered, so we ignored it. At other times, we loved having it and spent it like crazy (trips to Vegas anyone?). At still other times, we've had none, and I do mean none, and we've had to learn how to appreciate it for what it is:
A gift. And a tool.
We've also had an ambivalent relationship to 'provision'. At times, we've felt like it's our job to 'get her done'. At other times, we felt like God would provide no matter what we did or did not do. At still other times, times like now, we know it's both more, and less, complicated than that.
Now, after nearly a year of unemployment and living in the absolute hardest circumstances either of us have ever experienced, we are both so grateful for work. Any work. Even work that keeps us apart.
Our journey has humbled us tremendously. We no longer treat money with disrespect. Nor do we seek after it as if it is the goal. We have grown up. We want money because of what it can do for us, and what we can do with it.
In the last year we have been given countless gifts. The neighbor who showed up with groceries when we weren't sure how we were going to pay our mortgage, much less buy food. The friends who wrote checks to cover medical expenses so I could stay healthy and thrive, not just survive, during this season of being uninsured. Parents who came to our aid through gifts and short-term work. Anonymous church parishioners who asked our priests to give to a church family that needed it, without ever knowing our names or telling us theirs.
Looking back, it's surprising that we were as poor as we were. Why? Because we lived life to the fullest. Truly. Every single thing we needed, and many things that we simply wanted, showed up at exactly the right moment. If you had been watching from the outside, you probably wouldn't believe me if I told you we were on food stamps, and CHIP, and unemployment, all because we couldn't find work and had to rely on help from strangers in order to survive.
Along the way, our hearts changed. We learned how to trust the One who truly provides (every good and perfect gift comes from Him, the Father of Lights...James 1:17). Now, when I think about the bills to be paid or the expenses I know are coming, I don't fixate on how to find a way. I don't look for what I can do or what Justin can do. Instead, I truly know, with all of myself, that we will have what we need. And worrying isn't going to change that fact one bit. All I have to do is ask (Matthew 6:33).
That doesn't mean we don't work or try. I do my best to be a Proverbs 31 mom. I try to manage our household with precision and efficiency, but also with balance, choosing the occasional splurge as an act of faith that I don't have to stockpile in order to be okay. Justin goes to work. I work from home in the nooks and crannies of my day, doing odd jobs here and there. We do our part, making ourselves ready and available to be a vessel of whatever gifts He chooses to give us.
Does that mean we weren't 'doing our part' during the unemployment season? No. It's not that black or white. You can't say "welfare is wrong" or "self-sufficiency is good". Both have their places, their shades of grey. Though we certainly would have preferred to be working and providing for our family on our own, we wouldn't have been changed if we had done.
We wouldn't know - like we do now - that all of our hard work matters not if it's not for the One who created labor in the first place (Genesis 4:2).
Everything we have, everything we are, is because of Him. If I need something, He will provide it (Matthew 6:25-34). There is no reason to worry.
There is no reason to worry.
There is no reason to worry.
I can imagine that many of you are hearing "but..." inside your own head right now. Yes, circumstances don't always agree with what we know to be true. That's the deal. Our circumstances might never change, but our perspectives will. If we let Him change them. I promise you that. If you give yourself over completely to Him, choosing to believe even when you don't have faith, He. will. show. up.
And if we do let Him change our perspectives, our circumstances won't matter as much. We'll find joy in whatever moment in which we find ourselves.
So what will you believe in? Facts and experiences you can't control or promises you can trust?
I've never understood a certain verse from Scripture. In fact, every time I read it - which is often - it sort of makes me angry. It goes like this:
"The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing."
"How can that be true?" I think to myself. I know many people who seek the Lord but who, from our limited perspective anyway, seem to be lacking in lots of good things. Food, shelter...you only have to look abroad, or down the street, or next door, or in your own house, to know that not everyone is taken care of in the way that I would want, or you would want, or we would want.
But I'm not God, am I? I don't see everything clearly.
I still don't understand it all, but I can tell you this...I'm thankful for this season of poverty and lack.
I'm thankful that I had to wonder how we would feed our kids and cry out to God with everything I had. I'm thankful that I had to confess our situation to our neighbors, shattering any delusion of pride or plenty. I'm thankful that I got to experience life from a different perspective, one I've heretofore only witnessed as an outside observer, sympathetic and condescending, even when I wasn't meaning to be.
I'm thankful that I had to get to the end of myself, again, in a way I never thought possible, because it's there that I once again found God. And now I know Him far better. What's more, I trust Him in ways I could never have imagined trusting. I don't need to understand as much anymore; I simply need to believe.
So yes, the lions may go hungry, but they will also lack no. good. thing.