Let it Fall Apart

Recently I've been back on the horse with anal retentive budgeting. I'm being perfectly honest when I tell you it has seriously fallen by the wayside since I came home for a fulltime SAHM lifestyle. With the birth of my 3rd baby, who's now 3 1/2, and then the birth of my 4th baby, who's turning 1 next week, I was extremely overwhelmed. Due to many more reasons than just not being organized our finances have suffered in a really depressing way.

FYI, if you have to drop balls finances really isn't one you should drop. But sometimes it's between that and your kids and sanity and when you've got a triangle between Finances, Kids, and Sanity -- obviously your sanity and children are above finances. So it was the ball I dropped, I take full responsibility for that.

I allowed way too many spending indiscretions, of my own, and my husband is too nice to tell me no -- then there are sometimes when I feel guilty that I've spent money that I shouldn't have and allow him to spend money that he shouldn't. My definition of a perfect storm.

I will attribute this lack of interest in budgeting and finances to feeling just completely defeated. I am usually the type of person who always believes there's a way to succeed, but at a certain point a person can only take on so much water. The series of events just before I quit my job to become a stay at home mom and the events that happened afterwards really shook my world, or I should say the difference between those two realities.

A few months before I quit my job we had achieved a very huge goal that we'd been working towards since we got married, we paid off all of our debt (excluding our house). I was 20 weeks pregnant with our 3rd baby and I was finally able to not work through an entire pregnancy. The job I was in was so stressful my husband and I felt good about me quitting.

Here's the thing, I think we have good intentions and we honestly try to make good decisions, but I think our problem is timing. We just have really poor timing when it comes to when to make the decisions we do. Maybe it's impatience? Maybe it's just immaturity? Or maybe a little bit plain lack of wisdom, or all three as a mix.

Things were tight, but doable. The transition from 2 incomes to 1 income was toughest on me, I lost any semblance of community I'd had and as such kind of took on shopping online as a way to feel good. Loneliness is so detrimental to your life in so many ways you probably do not imagine.

After baby #3 made his appearance we literally came home from the hospital and a week later my husband lost his job. We went from 2 good incomes to no income in just 22 weeks.

I didn't panic. I never do. God has given me the ability to keep a calm demeanor and to problem solve in times of high stress and I will be forever grateful for this skill because I married a man who does the exact opposite. I can laugh at this now, almost a dozen years into our relationship.

He quickly got another job, back in the same company he'd left for better opportunities, and took a giant pay cut. This hurt a lot because, as I'd mentioned before, it was tight before.

Fast forward a couple years and several other bad ideas, my attempt to help us by supplementing income that kind of always ended up costing us money and making our home less of a retreat and more of a very crowded storage unit. The guilt from this also started building up because no matter how many good intentions I had, I could not succeed. I was so not used to this feeling of being a failure in literally everything.

Trying to supplement our income left me less time to actually be a mom, which is why I stayed home to begin with. I had less time, less patience, more frustration because all my hard work was getting me nowhere except more mess and time wasted. So, the struggle continued.

All the while my husband was still taking classes in college towards his Bachelors degree. We always had the future in the forefront of our mind and were trying desperately (still are) to make paths into the future that would bring our family success. He worked endlessly on homework and working 45-50 hours at a retail management job that quite frankly sucked.

Meanwhile, our income was so minimal for our household and expenses (despite being as minimal as possible as far as bills are concerned for a household) anytime anything came up we had to use a credit card. And our income didn't afford for us to just pay that off, even if we always had that intention. It felt like one wave after another, as life often does. Just coming up for air before another wave pounded us financially. We found ourselves right back where we started in the beginning of our marriage, all our hard work felt for naught. We both felt defeated, but kept trudging, because we're adults and that's what we do. We soldier on, especially when you have children.

Then our marriage hit rock bottom. And if anyone knows us personally you know you would have thought we'd already hit that in the first several years of our marriage (it's never been an easy thing for us, some couples seem effortless -- unfortunately we're both stubborn, so nothing comes easy). Rock bottom was where I had decided I was just done.

I won't get into all the details, but suffice it to say that my entire marriage philosophy had become Find a way to boost his ego so that he finds joy and can be the man God intended him to be. And I had worked towards that -- I pushed him to go and finish college so that he could get in a career and finally feel good about himself. His self esteem had suffered so greatly from his upbringing and unfortunately the people he had surrounded himself with throughout his young adult life. Hurt people, hurt people. But I had lost my patience. I had lost the desire to help anymore. I was tired. I wanted to be happy. It took serious praying. But God carried us through that patch and our relationship actually became what it should of been all along. Friends.

Enter our 4th baby. Life seemed so sweet. Despite our shaky financial ground -- you can't just lose years of your life worrying over it all. I knew God was carrying us and would make a way if we were patient and faithful.

Then he decided to go for an opportunity he'd been looking for for quite a while. The company he'd been in for almost 7 years was just a dead end, any prospects he'd seen for climbing the ladder withered and all the doors were slammed in his face. It truly seemed like God was telling him to move on. Maybe this was it? He took a job for a new company with ideal hours. Finally, M-F 8-5! He could actually be present in our lives and not be exhausted all the time! Then the fun started.

We got the medical insurance papers in the mail and to our dismay discovered we could no longer afford to pay for medical car for our family. The new company had tricked him into believing it came with benefits that it did not. I was so angry, but knew we could survive for the time being. We are blessed with good health -- barring any emergency.

Then the New Year arrives! January 1st my husband goes to work and is told his position is no longer there. Unemployment. If irony were funny I'd be rolling right now, but it wasn't funny. I still didn't panic. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". I've had this scripture up on our bathroom wall since we first got married and I hold onto that promise in my life. Not only does God have plans to prosper me, but His plans are not to harm me.

In all the trials, challenges, speed bumps we've dealt with financially there is a clear presence of God in all of it. Who says that destruction is not a blessing?

Here you move into a house that is falling apart, but you are doing your best to hold it together and God wants to rip it apart. He wants to burn it to the ground. Why? Strip it down to the foundation so he can build you a new home.

Do not look at failures, losses, challenges, or even defeat as a permanent situation. God's way is perfect. You can't see what He sees. You see the storm and the path of it as it rips your life apart and you think, naturally as we're taught to, that this destruction is an end. You're devastated in that moment thinking you've lost something. You haven't lost anything. He's trying to give you something of much greater value. Open your hands and accept it.

Let God be God. Let Him tear the house down if that's what He wills.

In our case I've had to ask myself so many times, 'What's the worst that can happen?' If financial failure is looming above our heads, 1. What can I control? 2. What can I just give to God to control? Because we can't control it all despite our greatest decisions, despite our wisdom (which is so very little in comparison to God's), despite our hardest work and blood, sweat, and tears, we can and will fail sometimes. But it isn't the end of it.

Sometimes in life you have to stop holding it up and just let it fall. Let it fall apart.

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