Throughout the years, I have tried to heal my relationship issues with money. I have attempted to keep gratitude journals where I have been known to write: Nothing bad happened today.
I saw this as a good thing to be thankful for, as simple as it was.
Another thing I did was I started writing thank you on the back of every payment I sent out. It reminded me I was paying someone’s wage to help them afford their mortgage or meals for their kids. I even sent my regards to the IRS when I mailed in my quarterly estimated taxes. I drew a smile on the envelope to add to the positivity. Did I mean it? I am not sure, but they say if you do the action, the feelings might show up later.
I have done money drops where I would take cash and encouraging notes and place them for the unsuspecting to find. I stuffed them into diaper boxes at the store, left them in bathroom stalls at the airport and in books at the library.
While all that was fun, it still didn’t do much to reverse this lack mindset that had been ingrained in me since childhood, where money was the root of all evil. If anything good came my way, it was pure luck and not to expect anything.
I recall at age seven opening a birthday card with money and saying to my mom in front of a relative,
“You can’t use this for new socks this time!”
I was catching on to what the green bills meant and how they were being taken away from me. I remember she looked slightly embarrassed. I was always challenging her frugal approach to life. Something inside of me knew that her view of things was slightly off.
When she was making her grocery list one day, I said I wanted something.
“It’s not on my list, Chris.”
She had her head down, writing out this massive novel of needed items. I didn’t understand the tight rope she was on trying to make it all work. I was tired of this worn out answer she always gave me.
“Just put it on your list,” I said, thinking this was the most brilliant idea that she had never thought of.
She looked at me and started laughing. That was not the response I was hoping for, so I one-upped her and scribbled out what I wanted onto her overloaded piece of paper when she left it unattended.
“Here,” she said to my shock while she handed me the item after she returned from the store. She hid her list after that.
If I had holes in my clothes, which was inevitable because they were never new, she would stitch them or put a patch on them. She taught me to wear something until it literally fell off my body and was paper-thin from the wash.
The message was continually sent that we could not afford anything, so get used to it. After years of that, it’s no wonder I have struggled to believe I could have it better.
Having a divorce thrown in on top of that didn’t help either, which only took my uncertainty up a notch.
At the same time, I picked up on the idea to give away things to help others. My street is busy, so if I need to get rid of anything, I set it out at night, and it disappears by dawn. I have had people come to my door asking if I meant for the items to be free because they are in good shape. I have given away tables, children’s items, and everything else under the sun. Someone always needs it more than I do.
The other day I cleaned my room and came across yet another experiment that I tried in 2014. I decided to write down every good thing that happened to me for the year and placed the notes in a jar.
When I read through them, I could still see that part of me was wanting to believe that what I learned as a kid wasn’t true. I realized the progress I had made between then and now, which that in itself is worth it.
And I discovered something else. God has been faithful. Even during the most challenging times, I still never got down to my last dime, even though I sometimes skated close to that. I always had ideas come to me on how to manage, and multiple people stepped in at times to save the day unknowingly.
I wrote everything, including the tiniest detail, like finding $2 at the mall. As I have let God cure me of my money trauma, the worries have faded, and I can handle the unexpected a lot better than I used to.
At one time, if I got a bill in the mail, I would obsess over it so much that I would miss out on something more substantial, like a daughter’s birthday. I would be present in the body, but my mind was whirling, figuring out how to meet that obligation. The first time I realized I wasn’t doing that anymore was a significant milestone for me.
And where did all that fretting get me? Nowhere. I wish I had known this verse from 2 Corinthians 9:8:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (NLT)
I cannot overlook the fact that this was passed down to me from someone I trusted and was looking to for answers about life. So, if you are acting like this, your children are watching and will repeat your mistakes. That was a huge reason for me to correct this in myself because I don’t want my girls to be mentally tormented as I have been.
One day in the middle of the pasta aisle, my youngest daughter couldn’t take it anymore.
“Get the organic one.”
“It’s more expensive.”
“It’s a quarter more! Get it! It’s better for us than the other one!”
I held each jar. She was sending lasers with her eyes and I knew I wasn’t going home with the cheaper one. My final fight with her was over cheese, and I said,
“You know what? I am no longer at the age where I can waste my time arguing with someone over dairy products, so fine! I will get the one you want me to, and move on!”
That started me on a new road to buying healthier options.
I used to try to skimp by on everything as much as I could. God met me in that place and provided because that is how it works. I don’t do that anymore, but if something comes along that I know has been discounted to make me feel heaven’s presence, that’s another story.
Today, my friend had breast cancer surgery. It was particularly tough because her fiance, Dan, went on to heaven last winter. He had cancer for nine years and had defied all odds. He often nudges me to buy her orange flowers, and anytime I bring them to her, she has always prayed and asked for them as a sign that he is near.
I went into the store and had that persistent thought to get flowers from her heavenly husband. I knew what color they had to be, but I didn’t know if they would have any. I had made up my mind to get her a bunch, and I didn’t care what the cost was.
In the floral department, I found three big bouquets set apart from all the rest. Of course, and he never makes me guess but always directs me to them. I thought I saw a clearance price, but I wasn’t sure, so they rang up really low when I ran them through the self-checkout.
“Is this right?” I asked the employee standing nearby.
“Yes, we got a big over shipment of flowers that we had to sell. Those are really pretty.”
A blessing had found me when I least expected it.
I spent next to nothing for them when I was prepared to empty my bank account to ensure she knew how much she is watched over.