Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On Anxiety. And Fear. And Discontenment. And Faith.

Over the past month or so, I've been in a funk. And I haven't really talked about it or written about it because I'm kind of annoyed with myself that I've even been in the funk. It's embarrassing.

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.

Whatever, God. 

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.

Whatever, God.

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.


  1. I'm sorry you're struggling with anxiety, Meredith. Believe me, I know what that's like. There was a point where I stayed home with Landon when I was pregnant with Brigs and money was SO tight. Naaman worked all the time and he never saw me. After 10 months I finally knew I had to go back to work because I couldn't handle the stress/anxiety of being a one-income family. We were going to lose everything, unfortunately.

    I think it's amazing that you are able to stay home and budget well enough to do it. We are terrible at budgeting! But it's also great that you have an education and skills that will allow you to go back into the work force when the time comes! You will know when it's right. Maybe when the girls are a bit older you will feel more ready.

    That retreat sounds wonderful. I wish I had something like that to belong to.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your heart so honestly. I think so many of us mamas struggle with anxiety and fear. And it seems like the financial front is a common place for those fears to play out. As I write this, we arent sure exactly how provision will come for our family this next month. And yet, I know that it will. He has *always provided and now that I have so many instances of trusting and seeing Him work ... I know He will. So I am grateful for the many opportunities to stretch and grow my faith.

  3. I know what you mean about being disappointed at paycheck day. You have it earmarked for certain things and then it's not there. I enjoy your honesty about these things. I said a quick prayer for you.

  4. I love your honesty, Meredith. I'm so glad that you were able to open up in a setting that felt comfortable and real - that's so rare these days. Hope payday was better than last month, but praying for you and your confidence regardless!

  5. Big hugs girl, I must have missed the IG comment last week because I didn't know you were going through this! Money matters are ALWAYS such a big deal---even in a 1.5 income house ;) Hang in there, and keep doing what you are doing.

  6. Girl-the struggle is real re: anxiety. I feel you. praying for ya.

  7. I randomly followed your blog because we've named our backyard "la buena vida" and I must have found it when looking for images or something. But it turns out that I found you because I needed to read this exact message today! So thank you for sharing; your words are not in vain! Sending prayers of contentment your way.


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