“I wonder at some points if I’m being irresponsible or unwise. But then I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’ I’m confident that God will take care of me.”
When I read that quote, it resonated deeply within my spirit. I would be at church, a conference, or even just scrolling on Instagram and someone would have a need. I often wrestled with these questions: Do I give? Do I not give? What about my debts? I have things to take care of too. Sometimes I gave; other times I didn’t. I know that the weight of the world’s needs do not fall solely on my shoulders, but do I always need to give no matter how small? Can I not give sometimes and still be at peace?
“If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed, and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed of the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:15-17
I don’t have the answers to these questions. Maybe I never will. Perhaps it isn’t about having all the answers, but rather it’s about what God is speaking to me individually. Am I being obedient to what God is specifically speaking to my spirit? Because God does not speak to His children in the exact same way–we are unique and He treats us as such. Now there are definitely things that are right and wrong according to the Word of God, and they are clearly defined. Other things we wrestle with, and we have those conversations with God. Philippians 2:12 says to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. It’s not about what everyone else is doing or how someone else “interpreted the Scripture”. What is God speaking to YOU?
Growing up, I used to think that we didn’t have a lot. Even as an adult, I would tell people that when they asked me what kind of family I came from in respect to how much money we made. All of the other kids wore the Roxy and Billabong attire when it first came out. They owned the “skater” shoes, and could bleach their hair whenever they wanted. My younger brother and I wore hand me downs. Trips to Ross were a treat as we finally got to buy the “cool clothes”, even if they were on sale or not in style anymore. More often than not, all I saw is what we “lacked” in comparison to others. While we may have struggled more than others financially, the truth is we were not poor. We had everything we needed.
Poverty was my mindset, not my reality.
When I entered into the adult world and started making my own money, I was excited. I could buy whatever I want! Whenever I want! So I did. Over the years I acquired more and more stuff to fill my home. A few books here. Some knick knacks there. Extra clothes so I could mix and match different pieces to create a variety of outfits. Another pair of shoes, because none of the other ones match this one outfit. As soon as I got paid, it was time to shop. I wasn’t in need of hardly anything that I bought. I just wanted to be happy and look good, and for others to be impressed, perhaps even a bit envious.
So yeah, I had a lot of nice things. But what did those things say about me?
When I finally stopped to listen, I could hear the whispers of insecurity and pride in my heart. I realized at that point, that no one cares! They didn’t care if I had one book or 500 books. They didn’t care if I owned a Michael Kors purse or traveled to New York City more than once. They didn’t care how often I got my nails done or how many times I had gone to the beach that week. They were probably just as busy worrying about what others thought about them too!
As God has been pruning my heart this year (A LOT), one of the biggest lessons is to just TRUST Him. If I believe wholeheartedly how deeply loved I am by God, then I know I don’t have anything to worry about as He will take care of me. I don’t need to worry if my needs are going to be met, or how others will perceive me if I don’t have certain things. I can walk into Target and not spend upwards of $50 on stuff that I don’t need (yes folks, it IS POSSIBLE. I have done it and I live a block away from my former kryptonite). I can go out with friends and eat ahead of time, bring my own food, or simply stay home. I don’t have to be everywhere and be everything for everyone. I can’t. I’m not God.
I don’t want to be known as a hoarder (which I totally was); I want to be known as a helper. Am I stewarding well what God has given me? My relationships, time, money, resources–they all matter. Am I pouring into others and allowing them to do the same for me? Because the reality is that none of us has everything we need on our own. Do I make time to rest and be present? Do I create more than I consume? Do give more than I receive? Am I intentional with my money? Seriously, budgeting is a lifesaver, and I am finally learning that after 32 years. I’m just saying.
These questions aren’t intended as guidelines for a to-do list. Your heart behind your actions matters greatly–are you making it about you again, or are you truly loving others?
This year hasn’t been easy by any means, but I am finally learning. I am learning to trust in God’s love for me, and that He is a good Father. I am learning to be content with what I need, and grateful anything above and beyond that. I am learning how much truth there is in, “it is better to give than to receive”. I am learning to be obedient to God’s Word, and that His commandments to be generous and a good steward (among other things) are not suggestions, but rather something I am supposed to live out.
I honestly thought of rewriting this post as I barely touched on this book at all, and really it was the inspiration behind this post. But at the same time, it would be hard to communicate why this book affected me so much without sharing parts of my story. Even so, I cannot recommend this book enough. It is phenomenal. It will probably wreck your soul. If you let it challenge you though, it can change you, and then you can change the world. *Side note: I have found it several times at the used book store, but even if I bought it new, it’d be worth every penny.