It’s a post for grown-ups!
Time for honesty: my family is having a hard time right now. On January 1, my husband’s company was bought out by a new company. He’s in sales, and the new company does commission differently than the old company, which has resulted in our income dropping in almost half. Needless to say, this has been very frustrating. We’re living off his income while I’m home this year, so when it dropped in half, it is not quite covering our mortgage and food and bills and that is literally it.
These kinds of situations happen a lot. And I’m sure they happen to a lot of people. On top of this, we have a major wasp problem (they keep getting into the house!), we need to fix all the screens over the windows in our house, and there is a place at the corner of our basement (toward the outside wall – it’s a walk-out – this isn’t even the part of the basement where water should be a problem! It goes downhill away from this place!!!) where water is getting in. The carpet is wet and there is black mold on the walls. We don’t know where the water is coming in, and we know we’re going to have to replace the wall piece, the carpet (because of microbes, how fun!), and possibly the studs that are probably ruined from it. Sometimes, I look at the wasps’ nest, too high for me to reach, and I see dollar signs instead of wasps. Sometimes, I look at that corner of the basement and I see dollar signs instead of water damage. But there are no dollars. Just none.
I want a beach. I want a cruise. I want to buy brand name groceries sometimes. I want to eat out for dinner like more than once a month. I want to buy my kids those adorable outfits and 85 Thirty-One bags and go on a nice trip to St. Louis and do fun things! I want to take my kids to the local kid play place that is $10 per visit per kid! I want new carpet in the living room and bedrooms instead of 25 year old hopelessly stained. I want the do the backsplash in the kitchen. I want to paint the double-ceilinged walls. I know I’m whining. I feel like it just isn’t so much to ask to have enough money to, like, fix things and buy stuff and do things.
These are the kinds of hard times I am having, and I think these are the most normal hard times. The kind where everything is actually fine and you are totally okay when you step back and look at the big picture, but you are in a waiting period for something better and/or different. These times are when God closes all the doors and all the windows and you are waiting somewhere uncomfortable and a little claustrophobic just waiting to get out. It’s totally possible to live off this minuscule dollar amount that my husband is working his butt off for 45 hours a week for. We don’t need any more stuff. We have overstuffed our basement until it is bursting, we have 10 times as much clothing as anyone could dream of, we have food that goes bad regularly because we never get around to eating it, our freezer and fridges are completely stuffed, its nice and warm (or nice and cool depending on the day) in our home, we have internet access and Netflix and Amazon Prime and a giant mac desktop that I’m currently typing on. I paused this writing to check my iPhone 6 earlier and then played a Solitaire golf game for a bit. These things are super, totally, completely normal, and they are total luxuries. I don’t need any of this.
Somehow, in all this totally normal luxury, I feel like I’m less. I feel unworthy of my friends when they have more than me. I always feel like I have to defend my ugly, stained carpet, and they don’t even notice it until I point it out! I don’t even profess to be materialistic! I cloth diaper and recycle and compost, for goodness’ sake. I want chickens and goats. I think my house is too big and we’re seriously considering downsizing. But all I want is new living room carpet and the back fence to be finished and pretty furniture and a maid and Joanna Gaines to be my personal designer.
So, here I sit, knowing that I’m a total hypocrite. I know that God has blessed us so much, and I see His blessing and remarkable provision every day. I forgot to “count my blessings, name them one by one. Count my blessings, see what God has done, count my many blessings, name them one by one, count my many blessings see what God has done.” So trivial. So obvious. And yet I so often forget. Like every day.
You know, Christ told us to get together often and take the bread and cup in remembrance of Him. I think we’re supposed to do it often because we forget Him.
I think it is important to remember this specific thing: I don’t deserve cruises or beaches or brand-name groceries or restaurants or day trips to St. Louis. I don’t deserve my too-big house or my iPhone or my mac desktop or my internet access or my Netflix or my Amazon Prime account. I don’t deserve my car, even with 200,000 miles on it. I don’t deserve a wonderful husband who works so diligently regardless of his pay. I don’t deserve the giggles and smiles of two precious offspring. Nor do I deserve the food in my fridge stuffed full, or my health that I’ve never once been consciously thankful for. I don’t deserve friendships.
I deserve death. I know it sounds over-the-top and a little ridiculous, but it is the cold, hard truth. I deserve nothing but death.
For my idolization of earthly things.
For my coveting and jealousy.
For setting other Gods above Him.
For my subtle slander of those I don’t like.
For hoarding blessings from those who are truly in need by buying myself another _________ instead of giving to ___________.
For angry retaliation, for instinctual negative reactions, for snapping instead of giving grace.
My ugly, dirty heart deserves death. All of my regular, everyday sin should separate me from God. I should be His enemy. But I’m not.
Oh blessed Jesus, I don’t deserve You. You gave Your life for me, You gave Your death for me, You gave eternity to me.
I must take the bread and cup, and I must remember You. I need to commune with You every minute, or else I’ll be sure to forget that a small salary and penny-pinching times are not the same as lack of blessing.
We are incredibly, extremely, astronomically blessed. In fact, I paused from writing this post for a few hours, during which I spun my 2.5 year old in circles singing “the enemy is under Your feet, we are free, we are free, death has been defeated by Love, You overcome, You overcome.” It hit me while I was mindlessly singing: I am feeling stuck and jailed and burdened by our money issues, and yet I am more free than I could ever imagine.
I seriously think we can figure it out. I can’t let my American Dream replace God’s dreams for me. They are simpler in so many ways, but a million times more rewarding.
So the question is this: in these tough times, while I’m waiting to feel a little more secure, who will my security rest in?
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul has these amazing revelations about heaven. During the time, God gives him a thorn in his flesh which torments him. I’m not sure if this was a physical thorn or not, but it was definitely a spiritual one. Paul says that the thorn was given to him that he may not become conceited. I like to think that Paul was battling with himself about how great he was (in addition to a possibly literal thorn). This was torment for him, constantly trying to overcome his sinful nature, knowing that he was awesome but desiring to take the credit for his awesomeness and specialness instead of giving that credit to God. He pleaded with the Lord three times to remove it from him, but the Holy Spirit’s response was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And then Paul says, “Therefore I will boast all the more in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I think the key here is that God didn’t take the thorn away right then. He said that the thorn isn’t what matters – His power is. His grace is. He’s like, “I get it. The thorn hurts. But I’m more than that. I’m enough, even when the thorn is still there. Abide with me while the thorn is still there.”
We totally know this, but it is truly profound to dwell in it. When I’m put in hard situations like that, I have no other choice but to lean on God, and He comes through EVERY TIME. He comes through EVERY TIME. HE. COMES. THROUGH. EVERY. TIME. He doesn’t always take it away, but His power comes through in my weakness. He is strong when I am weak.
So here’s the thing: if everything sucks forever, and everything is taken away from me to the very (brand-name) shirt on my back, He is enough.
If I die right this minute, He is enough.
If I live for a long time with very little, in a daily struggle to survive, with physical pain and sickness and my family is gone and I’m completely alone, He is enough.
And the more likely scenario – if I’m blessed beyond measure with basic needs, a beautiful and wonderful family, an incredible church home, a too-big house with too much stuff in it, an Instagram post from my iPhone that says #blessed after every adorably filtered photo of my privileged life, He is enough.
Or when I’m feeling very overwhelmed as I penny pinch,
another doctor bill comes as a surprise or something else expensive in the house breaks,
or as I compare how little I have to some of my pals who, it seems, have everything,
or when I think I’m just not as good of a parent as my friend,
or I wonder if I’ll ever know comfortable comfort,
and I know that I am just not enough,
He is enough.
Now, Lord, let me remember to commune with you. With every bit of bread and every sip of cup, let me remember who You are to me and what You have done.
“Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.”
Your grace is enough.