With our first baby on the way and W4 forms coming in the mail, Andrea and I thought it best to get an early start on the tax season. We have a few major expenses to consider and I am not just talking about diapers either. Andrea’s 2000 Honda Accord is about to sputter out at any moment and the behavior of our heat pump outside gives me reason to believe it wants to do the same. However, things are not quite as desperate as they sound, or so I thought.
I recently received a raise from work and Andrea worked some magic with our mortgage saving us about 200 bucks a month. All together we calculated about $400 extra to work with than what we had before. So we got to work on a new budget with plans to include a car payment. That is when we had our Seasonal Tax Disaster, AKA STD (because nothing good comes from that set of letters. Just ask me someday about my Short Term Disability forms.)
We sat down this Saturday morning and started crunching numbers. The equation is easy, monthly income minus monthly cost should equal a positive number. If you attend any Sunday church service on a regular basis you will inevitably hear the incredible story of how a couple, financially down and out, comes across an inexplicable monetary blessing that bails them out. Unfortunately, the equal sign on my calculator revealed the exact opposite for Andrea and I. The problem was worked again, and again. It wasn’t bad math. We were in the hole. Sure enough, just like when money comes from nowhere, it feels the same when it seems to go to nowhere.
Sure we can always chisel away at our standard of living, (I know it is all relative, but I would say we live quite modestly) but we thought for sure with my raise and the refinanced mortgage we would have our head out of the water with an additional 400 bucks. Instead of coming out ahead, we were under 300 bucks. It was a bit of downer. We stripped our budget and worked it down to a feasible amount, but it did not include a car payment. Needless to say, we were a bit disappointed. I will spare the details, but it did not get any better once we started looking into our taxes. Defeated, I conducted my routine Saturday Tension Dissipation and shared my mind with God while in the shower. Just like the rest of the STDs, it gets ugly. My one way conversation went something like this.
I am so frustrated right now! My job blows! I can hardly pay the bills, it is without a doubt one of the most aggravating, thankless, inconvenient, difficult, hopeless, helpless, jobs in the world. I am sick of working with people who care nothing of themselves or anyone else. They are parasites! They are nothing but problems left from irresponsible people. Problems that I have to deal with- Problems I am sacrificing for, but nothing, absolutely nothing is getting resolved. Yet You will never let me have peace about leaving it, even when you know that it is a pointless job. There is no hope for these people, because they won’t accept what will save them. Even if they would accept it, I can not legally give it to them. What am I suppose to do since I can’t do anything and You won’t let me leave?
Once I was done with my rant, I turned off the hot water and toweled off. As patient with me as ever, God gave me time to cool down. Then He hit me, like a sniper. Patiently waiting for the precise moment to deliver a single, fatal shot.
You sure are selfish…
Me… selfish? INEXPLICABLE!
The thought pierced my mind and my heart and totally caught me off guard. Most of all, it confused me. God knows how to get me to stop and think. When I am mad, I sleep or do something mindless like play a game. When I am sad I call someone and whine. When I am uninspired I watch my fish and do nothing else. When I am disheartened I play my guitar, which isn’t bad because I usually sing praises- But what I really needed to do was think, which is exactly what I do when I am confused. I know we all do that when we are confused about something like a math problem. I am not talking about that. I mean stop everything, get quiet, listen, meditate and think. That was what I needed. God said the one thing that would confuse me, because I honestly never saw myself as selfish, especially when it concerned my job.
So here is a list I made. While thinking I simply wrote down my emotions and why I felt them. I made sure I was just as honest with myself as I was with God earlier. So here it is, my Self Temperament Disclosure living up to its STD legacy.
|Selfish||I want an easy life, wealth, comfort and worldly success.|
|Impatient||I want my selfish desires now.|
|Angry||I have obstacles to my desires.|
|Hateful||It is my reaction to people and things constantly obstructing my selfish desires.|
|Confused||I am confused about my goals, life, logistics, truth, and myself.|
|Disheartened||Can’t reach my self goals, can’t see God’s righteous goals, I am going nowhere.|
As I looked at them I realized that none of them were the fruit of the Spirit. God said I could combat each feeling with the opposite emotion and that I can fight each reason for my feelings with His truth. As I wrote my thoughts down it turned out something like this.
|God’s Answer||His Truth|
|Selflessness||Accept responsibilities, give up wealth, give up comfort, seek God’s success.|
|Patience||Replace my desires with God’s. I can now operate on His time frame.|
|Joyful||There are no obstacles for God. He will get what he wants.|
|Loving||Fall in love with the means God uses to overcome His obstacles.|
|Enlightened||I know God’s truth. He has given it to me. I should never be confused about myself because I know what kind of man God wants me to be. He lays it out for me in His word.|
|Hopeful||Because God will finish what He has started. He will fulfill every promise|
I know this is a long post. But I needed to explain the context of how I got to writing my thoughts down. Our everyday aggravations can point us to God’s truth rather than obstruct it. I didn’t initially want to seek Him today, but I wanted to be honest with Him. I realize now that even when we do that He will take the opportunity to share His love with us, even if we are in the wrong. It is funny how I forgot about our money. It is even funnier how small of a problem it is to me now that I am aware of it again. You win God. I should seek You in all things. I knew that truth beforehand, but thanks for teaching me via experience. When seeking Your promises, things like budgets and bum jobs take on a glorious flare. I think it is because our struggles magnify Your provisions. Your provisions prove Your love. Your love is simply and pleasantly… inexplicable.