Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Taking a Leap

It's pretty clear to me what I am being called to do. This post, and this one, and this one, and the first comment on this one all point to the same conclusion: Stop trying to do it all yourself and just give it to God.

And these are all posts within the last week or so.

When I began this blog, I wanted to highlight the ways we, as blessed inhabitants of a wealthy and prosperous nation, can live our lives in solidarity with the poor. My path was waylaid immediately by what I thought at the time was an obstacle: my husband's opposition to giving to charity. So I changed my focus and dedicated myself to budgeting and saving, non-monetary giving, and prayer.

It's not at all that I think I made the wrong choice or anything, but I think I had the wrong attitude about it. I thought at the time, "I'll just do all these things in obedience to what God is calling me to do, and He will change my husband's heart so we'll be able to give to charity." I also thought, "God will help me save money so we will be in a good financial position and have extra to give to the poor."

Um. So. That totally hasn't happened. At all. The irony is, we are in excellent financial position. We have paid off all our debt and saved three to four months worth of salary for emergency spending. My husband has gotten a raise. We've made improvements on our house that actually saved us money in the long run (winterizing, etc.)

But we don't seem to have any money for the poor. My husband had suggested that any money left over in the monthly budget could be split 50/50 between savings and charity. Not only have we not had any money left over for the last year, but we have been overspending our monthly budget by hundreds and hundreds of dollars. In fact, just from overspending, we've gone back into debt.

My husband is dumbfounded. "How is this happening?" he asked me the other night. "We used to be able to get by with less! We have more money than we ever have and we're spending more!"

I didn't have an answer for him, but in praying about it (and reading blogs that coincidentally all say the same things) it seems pretty obvious to me what the problem is. We're not giving God His money. The whole idea of budgeting and scrimping so we can save some "extra" for the poor has the entire thing backwards. We should be giving freely to the poor, and trusting in God to provide for us, as He did when we gave $100 to the IRC instead of buying groceries.

I am petrified. And completely at a loss. This whole trusting God thing is exceedingly difficult for me, and I am very, very worried about how it might affect my marriage. Can I be completely honest? It's not even that I worry about our financial situation, or making my husband mad. My real fear, the deepest, most central fear that's stopping me from taking a leap of faith, is that it won't work, and it will be just one more reason for my husband not to believe in God.

What if we do this, if we give to God and then He doesn't provide? I've seen friends who attempted great things for God fail utterly and completely (in the eyes of the world.) It didn't rock their faith, they were never in a situation where they had no food or no home, and I think it led them to a better place, but as far as my husband is concerned, they listened to a voice that wasn't there and completely ruined their finances. I don't want to fall into a prosperity gospel trap here and move forward recklessly, expecting that strangers are going to drop checks on our porch to pay my kids' tuition. But if my husband and I are not on the same page when it comes to tithing, we might not hear the same message, and what to me is a sacrifice for the greater good might to my husband be a failure or an untenable compromise.

And of course, I care more about what God wants me to do than what my husband may or may not think, but it doesn't seem right to me that I am forced to choose. It doesn't seem to me that God would ask something of me that would harm my marriage.

Which leads me to think that He is in control of this, and that good will come of it.

But I'm still petrified. And I don't know how to start.

Picture credit: Movie still from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, brain child of the illustrious Mr. George Lucas (George Lucas & Jeffrey Boam, Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm, May 24, 1989.)