what is my knee-jerk reaction?

I’ve often heard it said that hindsight is 20/20.  I completely agree.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading through old journals and was able to see where I have grown in my understanding of a very real struggle in our life throughout the years.

That struggle is my response to our financial/material circumstances.  I have often had a “knee-jerk reaction” to the times when I feel our family has a “need” and I cannot see how in the world it will be met.  My natural inclination was to panic, and try to figure out how to bring in more money to our household.

While I think that supplementing the family income can be a wonderful thing, I have my doubts that doing so because of a “knee-jerk reaction” is a wise way to go about it.

These are a few things I have learned, especially in this past year, that have changed my perspective on how to respond to our family’s “needs”.

  1. God is our ultimate source of provision.  He might use our career, He might use our creativity and hard work, He might use our church family, or He might use a stranger or a situation to provide what we need.
  2. I have had to redefine “need”.  While I might think that we need a large bag of yummy looking fresh fruit for our family, I have learned that sometimes that need is met by receiving a batch of pears that are almost “gone” and picking through, cutting off the rotten spots and using the good parts.  Maybe they won’t receive a whole pear each, but instead, they get chunks of pear to eat with their yogurt.  Instead of “needing” a whole loaf of French bread to go with soup, I can use just a couple of crusty rolls by slicing them, drizzling with olive oil and toasting under the broiler.  It is sufficient-and pretty darn nice, if you ask me!  Maybe instead of purchasing brand new gifts for our boys this Christmas, we will be able to find them each a gift from one of the thrift stores in our area.  Maybe we don’t need to keep the thermostat at 65 to keep the house warm, but we can stay warm by lowering the thermostat and wearing an extra layer (or two!).
  3. I need to feel confident in the role I play in my household.  We have chosen to be a one income family so that I could stay home and take care of the children and the house.  I fully embrace the fact that Chris’ role is to bring in the paycheck, and I get to stretch it as far as it will go.  I think that having confidence in the role that I have chosen helps me avoid the “knee-jerk” reaction of thinking it is my responsibility to bring in more income.  When those times come that I am paying bills and buying groceries and I don’t see how to make things work, I pray for creativity as I juggle our budget and take one day at a time.
  4. The one day at time concept is one that I learned this past year while we were unemployed for several months.  I am a planner.  And while this can often be a good thing, it has often interfered in my ability (and choice) to trust in God’s daily provision.  If we need dish soap today, I will go ahead and purchase it.  I no longer stress that if I purchase what I need today that I won’t be able to get what we might need next week.  He has never failed to provide exactly what we need, and just when we need it!  We often turned to Matthew 6:25-34

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

I also love this passage from the chapter of Proverbs, verse 8-9

    “Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
    Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say,“Who is the Lord?”
    And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”

It all boils down to trust.  When we find ourselves in a seemingly impossible place, between our income and our needs, I no longer experience the knee-jerk reaction of panic and scrambling for what I think we need.  Trust in who God is and what He does keeps me hanging on even tighter to my role as homemaker and ask for the creativity and perseverance that I need to accomplish what He wants me to accomplish.  As I focus on being here for my boys and taking care of our home, He has never failed to take care of us, nor will He ever!