Mood: irritated, frustrated, petulant, discouraged.
I am really trying to leave the negative blog posts behind, and so in that respect, I think my “mood” section may be a little misleading. I am indeed writing about something that irritates me, but I’m also writing about something that may just motivate me. It has its blessings and its downfalls.
I preached this past Sunday, and I said something that makes this whole entry so ironic. I preached on the rich young man, and one of the points I made was that being rich and being poor are not an indication of moral difference – that is, one is not more loved or favored than the other – but they’re about perspective. It’s just as easy to count both digits in your bank account or dwell on your small paycheck as it is the six digits and the multi-thousand dollar check.
And boy, have I been living that out. I asked my spiritual father if that’s what it’s like to be a preacher – to painfully walk through the very things you mention in your sermon, to which he resoundingly responded “YES!”
Since I started dating Erica, my financial depravity has stuck out to me. There is no analogy for this. I can’t even begin to explain it. I am at a job for which I drive 25 miles one-way, get paid $5.50 an hour, and hope for good tips. We don’t have any food, so if I want to eat, I either have to cook (assuming I have time) or eat out. It’s become rather expensive to work there, and I am realizing more and more plainly that I cannot make financial progress. I struggle to pay my insurance and phone bills, I don’t pay rent (my brother still graciously lets me live with him) and my money goes toward gas and food. I quite literally cannot make it work.
All the while, my beautiful girlfriend is at a job in which she makes great money, pays her own rent, can afford to travel, and while she has certain financial speed bumps (an upcoming dental operation sticks out) she is doing well for herself.
I can’t tell if this is salt on my wound – that is, financial insecurity, both literally and figuratively – or warm whiskey. That is, I can’t tell why it feels the way it does. Medically speaking, salt does help the healing process of a wound in that it dries it up and allows the body to get on with the healing, but it doesn’t heal in and of itself. And alcohol sterilizes the wound.
So this reality – my financial depravity – has been exacerbated by being with Erica. Let me explain, lest you think I’m just intimidated by having a girlfriend who makes money.
I’m not bothered by her making more money than I do, what I’m bothered by is the fact that she makes money and I, well…don’t. I’m not bothered by her end. I’m bothered by mine in comparison. That is, dating her has helped me think about the future more. Before I get married, I want to be out of debt, save a couple thousand dollars, and buy an engagement ring. That’s the minimum. And I only owe $1000. But at the rate I’m going, that is financial Mt. Everest. As I read in Mark Driscoll (my hero)’s blog today, “Before a man gets a wife or a child, God the Father expects that man to take care of himself. If a man cannot provide for himself, he should not take on the additional responsibilities that a family brings.”
And to be frank, I’m not taking care of myself. My rent is paid for. My phone bill is minimal. I buy my own gas. I pay my own insurance. But I don’t pay for everything I use. I get my coffee through work, I get my rent for free. I don’t buy any new clothes, but continue to wear ones with holes.
And facing this reality has made me, at times, physically sick. It makes me emotionally sick. It makes me spiritually sick. To think that I’m a man who claims to love a beautiful, godly, well-off woman but have made choices strictly based on how much I’ll enjoy my job and how things will be easy for me makes me absolutely livid with myself.
The complexity I face is this: it is easy for me to think that when I get a job, my life will be easy, and everything will be smooth sailing. But I also know that it’s a process to get out of debt, and I am faced with the temptation to think that getting out of debt will save me. It doesn’t make logical sense, but I think I’ve let myself believe that financial insecurity is just that “thorn in my side” that the Lord is having me trust Him on. And to a point, it is, but at the same time, I must learn the difference between being insecure in the sense that I still rely on God as a provider, and I may not make much money, but that’ll be okay – and being wise. The Bible doesn’t advocate debt. The Bible advocates being a provider, and as a man who is in love with a woman and wants to start a future with her, I am in no position to be a provider, and that is the most frustrating thing for me.
So the last thing I should do here is mope and dwell on my woes. That is entirely the wrong response. Instead, this should (and to an extent, has) light(lit) a fire under me to get a job. Who cares if I don’t like it – if I have to sell things to people at a retail job, or deal with difficult, sometimes entitled, people at a hotel, or if I have to work a drive-thru at Starbucks (or, God [please] forbid, McDonald’s), be a teller at a bank, risk working nights at a gas station, etc. – I need to just do it. I’ve often told myself that the thing I’ll tell the father of any woman I want to marry when he asks me how I’ll provide for her is that I’ll do whatever it takes.
Well, Jeff, prove it, you bum.