“You’re about to drive our family off a financial cliff,” I said, mustering my resolve. “You must get a second job–any job–this week, or I will!”
Nearly four years ago I submitted my resignation as an English teacher at the local high school. I loved my role, but I certainly did not sacrifice my career to be a sorta-stay-at-home-mom just to work nights at Taco Bell or the grocery mart.
“You’re tellin’ me that you’re going to go back to work?” my husband questioned, calling my bluff.
“No, not full time,” I shot back, restraining my anger, yet engaging my commitment to persevere, “but I will find some job so that when you come home from work I’ll pack up and head out to my job, and you can watch the kids.”
I waited, then added: “We can’t afford to live like this any longer. And I’m tired of having this same conversation.”
The number one reason I married my husband–aside from love and the warm-fuzzy feelings I get when I am with him–is that he is teachable. He’s far from perfect, but he sees himself, in Christ, as being perfectible. I love this character trait in him.
In my every day world, some people perceive me as being articulate and assertive. That’s far from how I see myself. Especially in the financial realm of our marriage.
My thoughts, feelings, and words tangle in such a way, I often feel like my three-year old who throws fists at his side, screams, and stomps off due to his shortfall in vocabulary and lack of efficacy to vocalize–in the moment–his want or need.
As research for this blog, I read Leslie Vernick‘s Emotionally Damaging Relationships. I didn’t anticipate pinpointing the words I’ve been needing to use with my husband about our finances. I didn’t realize how fearful I was of my husband’s inability to control our finances.
When I was a little girl, there were violent fights over money and bills of all sorts. I remember the look on mom’s face at the grocery checkout when the total was higher than she calculated and how she’d white-knuckle the steering wheel on the ride home. I can still feel the tension of walking through the doorway after a shopping trip to the mall, armed and ready with defense for each purchase: the girls outgrew their shoes…
For the last three years, I thought I was doing the right thing: identify my concern, vocalize it to him, wait for him to act, and then pray for him to make the best choice. I thought I was respecting his leadership in this way.
And maybe I was.
But God was compelling me to speak and stand up about our finances.
Let me be clear, my husband is not abusive.
The little girl within, however, was abused years ago. And she’s been financially cowering ever since she noticed at the grocery counter that money and spending causes fights and heartache. And that little girl grew up a little stronger the other day when she spoke to my husband from her heart to his heart.
How did my loving husband receive her words?
Like a king!
He made no excuses. He claimed what sin was his and owned it. He repented.
I repented of having let fear mute my heart in the area of finances.
And together, we made a solemn promise before the Lord that we would be faithful with His good gifts, that we would learn to be good stewards, and that we would establish a new financial legacy for our children and their children and their children’s children.
This was a sacred moment in our marriage. One that we’ve needed several follow-up conversations to actualize what had been expressed. We’ve cried. We’ve laughed. And we’ve stood in awe at how God orchestrated the words and timing of that conversation.
Only four weeks have passed since that holy moment. Our finances haven’t changed that much, even still, our hearts certainly have.
Making headway through financial behavioral modification is no fairy tale. I have no frills-and-lace expectations that all will go perfectly well from this day forward.
This is real life, after all.
The next day following our conversation, my husband had a previously scheduled interview, and the Lord was merciful. My husband nailed the interview, got the position, and received more than we anticipated because of previous work history.
It doesn’t always work out this way: speaking up, standing up, and getting blessed. But this time, the Lord allowed it. And we’re thankful.
Today, I’m accepting the dare to challenge that abused little girl within me to grow up, one conversation at a time.
O Lord, thank you, that it is you and no one else, who is causing the growth within me. Remove the learned mutism of my heart by giving me words to speak and courage to utter them. Give me wisdom to know when to speak up and when to remain silent.
What’s your next step? In what areas do you find yourself still responding like that little girl or little boy from long ago? Make it a priority in your schedule to do business with the Lord. Ask Him where and why and how you need to grow. He may direct you to a “Paul” or to an “Apollo,” but rest assured that it is He who will bring about the growth in you (1 Cor. 3.6).
Btw, my sweet hubs gave me “the okay” to share this with you. 😉