But that doesn't change the fact that I've been there, and I feel like if we can't be transparent about our struggles within this community of women, then we are all doing ourselves (and God) a giant disservice.
So. Last month was a small paycheck month for Justin. Smaller than it had been in two years or so. The communication wires were crossed between Justin and I, and I wasn't expecting it. He wasn't surprised.
Anyway, when I picked up Justin's paycheck on the last day of March, I was mad. Mad at God. I'm having a hard time even typing this out because on one hand I know it is just...ugly, but it's also true.
See, before Lizzy was born, we both independently felt distinctly led that I was supposed to stay at home. I had never felt such a strong calling to do something before, and so we took a leap of faith and did that, even though we knew it would be tough financially. And it hasn't always been easy, but God has faithfully provided for our needs (and sometimes even our wants) month by month by month.
There have been a ton of blessings in this, including the fact that Justin and I have gotten really good about our money, and now budget to the penny every month. We have plans and goals and dreams financially, even if we're getting to them at a snail's pace, which is markedly different than when we were both working and both spending like crazy and sometimes I wish I could reach back in time and shake some sense into myself. Anyway, there's been a lot of good things that have come from this, and most months I can recognize that.
But honestly, sometimes it sucks. Sometimes, this anger and bitterness rises up inside me, and I am SO irritated that every. single. thing. must be budgeted. It can get exhausting, the budgets and the lists and the shifting things around, and sometimes I just want to be able to buy a cute shirt at Target without thinking about where it will fit in to the budget, darn it--'cause some months there's a clothing budget and some months there's not. If there's a meal sign up passed around church, I just want to be able to sign up, regardless of whether there's money in the giving category that month or not. Sometimes, I get tired of saying "no" to everything, it seems.
And I'd been praying lately about whether it was time to apply for a part-time job for me, and had gotten the distinct answer of NO. I applied to a job anyway. I didn't get it. And I was angry again, because it was hard and I wanted to do things an easier way, and God said no, and sometimes (usually) that sucks. And I was tired, and irritated at God, and also irritated at myself for being irritated. And I was very much in "whatever, God" mode.
In fact, Missy asked me to speak at the Mom's Group retreat this past weekend, and I just felt like I couldn't. I could not think of anything uplifting or helpful to say about God and what he had helped me overcome, because he hadn't. I felt like I was in it by myself holding notebook upon notebook of lists and budgets, and I just didn't want to do it anymore.
I went to a Mom's Group retreat over the weekend, and on Saturday morning I asked God to give me a verse that would help me, and I randomly opened up my Bible to Hebrews 13:5-6, which says:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
"Never will I leave you;
Never will I forsake you."
So we say with confidence,
"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
I mean, I don't know if God Himself ever pulls a Jesus Juke, but that sure felt like one. And I wish I could say that my heart was immediately changed and yada, yada, but it wasn't. It just ticked me off even more, honestly. And the irritation and bitterness, both at God and at myself just grew and grew.
Over the weekend at the retreat, I opened up about anxiety, which is something that I battle a lot. If you follow me on IG, you saw me reference it on Friday--for me, one of the things that happens when my anxiety gets bad is that I feel like everyone in my life is going to die, and if I'm there, diligently watching and "on call", I can protect them. And if I'm not, they're all going to die. By Saturday night at the retreat, my anxiety was out of control, because I didn't know what else to do, I opened up about it. In fact, we all opened up about our "stuff", in an authentic and vulnerable way that I have rarely experienced with other women. We talked, honestly. We prayed specifically, for each other.
And you know what I realized? For me, all of this was partially an issue of contentment and gratitude, but mostly an issue of anxiety and fear. Since the retreat, I've been doing a better job with the self-care that I know is crucial for me in keeping my anxiety at bay. It probably sounds a little crazy, but I have felt the prayers. And I am so grateful. That pit in my stomach is gone, and the weight I've been dragging behind me all the time seems to have vanished. And I was surprised to realize that so have the anger and bitterness. I didn't realize that they were all related, but they were.
Today, it is payday again. I don't know what to expect, and I don't know that it'll be any easier than it was last month. But I do know that my response this month, at least, will be one of confidence and not fear. Praise be to God.