This is a very fresh topic on my mind as I write this. This has been a topic of discussion and conflict at several points throughout our marriage and even before getting married. On the Strengths Finder Assessment, my top strength has consistently been responsibility. It is also one of the top 5 strengths of my husband Steven. So you might wonder: “Why the conflict then?” The conflict has arisen when it comes down to the following: “How do we be responsible with our finances – pay off debt and save, while still being generous?” I’m not here to give you numbers, percents, or even Biblical advice. However, I will share with you a little of what this journey has looked like for us.
Listen to Your Fears
Last weekend the topic of generosity came up again in our conversation as we both desired to financially support a cause that we believe in while at the same time being responsible to our existing financial obligations. As usual, conflict arose. My heart was torn between “Of course, we need to support this cause!” and “There is no way – we have no extra money AND we need to pay off our debts.” Immediately, I became angry at our situation and my husband’s persistence. We prayed and I asked for God to speak to me and show me what to do.
The next morning on my commute I couldn’t get the previous day’s conversation out of my head. I began asking God for peace, as I was plagued with fear. Fear that we wouldn’t have enough. Fear that we needed to pay our debts. Fear that something would happen and somehow God would “let us down.” Ultimately, fear that I wouldn’t have control.
Fight Your Fear with Giving
And then God spoke: “You need to fight this fear with giving.” As long as you hold on to your resources and try to “control things” your fear will continue to grow. I immediately told my husband what God had spoken to me. It has reminded me that I need to live with open hands. When we listen to our fears, we are able to know what areas we need to take action…and so the way to counteract the fear of not having enough money would be to stop trying to control it. And so I remember that it’s God’s anyway and living like I don’t have anything to give away is living as if God will never bless again.
Make a Plan & Give
So often I think that I will give more when I have more, but in fact when I had less I gave more. It’s funny but true how this works. And so I am reminded of the need to not try to comfort my fears with not only more planning but also more giving. Planning AND giving. Yes, when we fear we will not make our next medical bill, we still plan to give. Yes, when we fear we might not have as many freelance jobs, we still plan to give. Yes, when we fear we might have a major car expense, we still plan to give. It may seem irresponsible to give if we have debt and many people may agree that it is. However, instead of spending money that we would still spend but don’t NEED to – eating out, purchasing clothing, going to the movies, etc. – we’ve decided to cut back and use that money to give.
Case in point: We give even when it hurts and we adjust our lifestyle to be able to experience more of the freedom Christ calls us into.
Fight Your Fear with Praise
I’ve always thought it was funny how often God tells us to remember things in the Bible. It can seem like a no-brainer. But, I know I quickly forget. When I focus my mind on what God has done and how he has provided time and time again, I find peace, comfort, and hope to move forward in boldness. For us, that has meant in times where we challenge one another in an area or experience conflict over finances, we call each other to remember what God has done. Many times in the last weeks, I’ve caught myself experiencing anxiety or fear. In those moments, praising and thanking God for what He has done has been incredibly freeing. If God’s been that faithful already, surely He gives us hope for all that is to come!