I have been struggling to share everything I really experienced in 2017 because putting it all on screen feels too much like inviting strangers into the most sacred aspects of my marriage. But after an eye-opening conversation with my sister and a second heart to heart with a cherished friend, I believe I know how to share the ins and outs of my year without betraying the confidence of those in my home.
I started 2017 hopeful. I was newly involved with a deliverance ministry that focuses on helping women grow in their relationship with the Lord (www.wivesinwaiting.com). I knew that if I allowed it, the ministry and the sisterhood I would build within it would grow me in uncomfortable but important ways. My children were two-and-a-half years old and eight months old, respectively and the work of mothering them was time consuming but I was finding my feet. I had reliable child care and a schedule that worked for our family.
I started feeling the nudge to do something tangible to invest in my marriage. Having two children so close in age meant that date-nights were long forgotten for months and months at a time. I did not want to wait until we were in crisis to seek the help I needed to be a more intentional wife towards my husband. With all of that in mind, I signed up for and was approved to participate in a marriage mentoring program called Good Thing 101. The program was eight month long and it forced me to do the work of prioritizing my marriage every week. It has done wonders for my prayer life, our intimacy life and my mindset towards my husband and I am still reaping the benefits till today. When 2017 began, I was afraid to dream in concrete terms. I had general ideas of what I would like to see during the year but actually stating goals intimidated me because I had been disappointed in the past.
One of the things I was afraid to put down on paper was concerning our finances. Because I had ignored my credit history for so long, I knew it would take years of work to undo the damage. This realization left me paralyzed when it came to believing God for any material things that would involved credit utilization. I am not one to believe that I can speak my car and house and millions into existence. In my own understanding, faith without works is dead. I can believe God to put food on my table but if I turn down jobs that could provide for my family and sit on my hands, I have condemned us to starvation. In like manner, I was not about to speak a new car or a new house into existence when I knew I had not done the work to make those things possible. To put it plainly, I was afraid to believe.
My own plan for home-ownership was that one day, we would have saved enough money to entice someone to sell us the house of our dreams even if we were not as credit worthy as other buyers. I knew the hefty down-payment I had in mind was years away so I took home-ownership off the table as a plausible short-term goal. My husband however, would not be deterred. He was tired of renting and he wanted his own home, with a yard for our children. As his partner in life, I got on board with the plan and believe it or not, by August we had secured financing for our home. By November we had our entire down-payment secured.
I was gobsmacked! God answered a prayer I had been afraid to pray at the beginning of the year and He did it within months.
In between securing our financing and saving the down-payment, I was hit with a huge business liability (five figures) that threatened everything we were working towards. I wanted to quit. I literally wanted to sell off all of my business assets, pay off the liability and close up shop. I was done. I was done with owning a business and I was equally done with even hoping to ever own a home. Who ever heard of trying to buy a home while dealing with this kind of financial stress? The money I had planned on setting aside would now be siphoned up by this new debt that came out of nowhere.
For weeks I wavered between anguish and anger. Nobody else I knew that went through the process of buying a home ever encountered this type of crap. They found their home, paid for it and moved in. Why did mine have to be a different story? I cried angry and bitter tears. I also cried in fear. I did not want to be the reason my husband’s dreams were dashed. Through it all, I found the courage to pray. And when my courage failed me, I asked others to pray for us.
As we inched closer and closer to moving day, I was cautiously optimistic. I did not give myself permission to be excited because a part of me feared that our hopes would be ultimately disappointed. When we finally settled into our new home, my heart melted in thankfulness and joy. It was real. This was ours.
We spent the holidays in our new home and while we prepared for Christmas, I started thinking about what our new set of responsibilities would require of us. I crossed off any plans of any major purchases for at least another three years while we get accustomed to our new financial obligations and duties. It would be entirely out of the realm of possibility to believe God to give us any more than what He had already granted. We did not deserve it and we could not afford any more than this. Imagine my shock when I received a brand new car as an early Christmas gift. I left the house in my modest 2006 hatchback which had served me well for the two years we owned it; I had piled over 40,000 miles on it for personal and business errands. The car was over 100,000 in mileage but I was determined to ride it until the wheels fell off. I could not believe God for another vehicle until this one was paid off. I hated car payments all together. There was no way I was signing myself up for two of them at a time. God and my husband had other plans though. I left the house that day in a car that was 11 years old and returned to find one that was almost a decade newer. Shocked was an understatement.
At that point, I decided to stop limiting God. I had to repent. If God was gracious enough to provide the material things I needed even when I felt that I did not deserve them, He could certainly open any door that I would need to enter in order to prosper in the coming year. God has given me the gifts and talents I need to make wealth and secure my family’s future. Walking beneath my God-given capabilities would not serve me in this new year so I had to change my mindset. There was no need to walk in fear about our finances. We had the God-given knowledge to manage our wealth and credit, and now by God’s grace, we also had the means.
My affinity for living well below our means was a coping mechanism for my fear that we could lose everything at the drop of a hat. Money was a safe-guard and a god that beckoned my worship. If I had enough of it, I would not have to trust God’s provision. God Himself shattered that sinful thinking by challenging me to believe Him for my needs. He has been more than faithful. The God who made a way for me in 2008 when I had nothing, in 2013 when we got married, in 2014 when we had our firstborn and in 2017 when He brought us to our Rehobeth is worthy of my unwavering trust. His track-record is impeccable. He knows the end of 2018 from the beginning and He has prepared everything I and my family need to prosper, to thrive, and to live in His fullness. His grace is sufficient for us in this new year. He is the God Who has been our help in ages past. He is our hope for years to come.