What do I do with the money issue?

I love money.

There, I said it.

I’m not supposed to say it, especially since I also love Jesus. You know, that whole Bible verse about not being able to love God and money at the same time. And the other one about the love of money being the root of evil. It’s not something any God-fearing, Jesus-loving, Bible-reading person should admit to.

And yet. I can’t deny it anymore. wpid-20150423_131110.jpg

I love money. I love earning money for work well done. I love having enough money to pay our bills and buy things we need/want and give to others.

But I also hate money. Especially when there’s not enough. Or someone else has what I perceive as too much money.

Then, I want to find a way to live without money. To simplify my life in such a way that I don’t need as much money just to get through the day.

I love money. I hate money. And I get so frustrated trying to find the middle ground, a place where I can be grateful for what I have without developing an insatiable desire for more.

Money has always meant security for me. If we have enough to pay the bills, then I breathe a bit easier. If we’re cutting it close, I worry. Paying bills and buying groceries and doing the checkbook math give me anxiety until the next payday. And when we come up short, I grasp at any opportunity, however slim, to fix it.

In January, I applied for a part-time work-from-home job I wasn’t qualified for because our income was unexpectedly lower. In the first part of this year, we used our credit card for the first time in years to make up the difference until our tax return came. And because our tax return was later than we expected, the weeks held more anxiety than I wanted, and I was thinking about money. All. The. Time.

Things are better now. Not great but better. And I’m still thinking about money a lot.

How much we have.

How much we need.

How much we’ll get.

It’s a tough spot. In our house, my husband makes the majority of the money and I do the bill paying and budgeting. (I’m terrible at the latter.) My husband has such a generous heart. He always wants to give. And I’m such a worried hoarder that I always want to keep what we have. Just in case. Thankfully, we don’t fight about money. Though, I’m sure we could.

But it’s a problem for me, the whole money=security thing. And I’m tired of pretending it’s not.

Tell me I’m not the only one pretending I don’t love money.

In case that’s not a shocking enough confession for you, let me also say this: I’m a sporadic tither. I used to be pretty great at it. Ten percent or more in the offering plate every time I or we got paid. I believed what they told me, that if I gave God a little, I wouldn’t miss it. And I didn’t. But there are so many weeks that the math doesn’t add up, and I can’t understand why God would want me to write Him a check if it meant I couldn’t feed my family or pay the heat. Yeah, it’s been that bad at times.

What’s the answer? Somebody tell me because I don’t know. I want to do good with what we’re given, and I know I fall short. A budget is a start. Using my talents to earn money is another step.

But what about that whole trusting in God thing?

Last week, in church, we talked about “blessed are the poor,” the words Luke uses. Not the “poor in spirit” that Matthew uses. And the prosperity gospel nonsense of belief leading to material blessing. I have seen God provide for impossible circumstances for our family, in ways we could not have imagined. But I have also seen faithful Godly people struggle to make ends meet for a very long time through no fault of their own. And let’s not even talk about global poverty and the kind of faith among the truly impoverished that puts mine to shame.

I can’t undo that I live in this country. That my husband and I have college degrees. That we have two kids. That the “cost of living” is what it is where we live. (Sure, we could move. But there are always trade-offs.)

So, what can I change?

For starters, my heart. (Why does it always go back to my heart?!) I can choose to not let money be my god by trusting God no matter what. And I have to kill my pride by submitting to a system that helps me track where our money goes. I like to think we spend our money wisely, but I know better. We aren’t extravagant, I don’t think. But we aren’t disciplined, either.

Somehow, there’s a balance between being wise and being gracious. A writer friend recently said that he and his wife don’t make any decisions based on money, either earning it or spending it. And they’ve been in a place of deep debt with desperate need for income. We made that mistake once, and it cost us dearly.

Maybe to tame the money beast I have to acknowledge my fears. What is it I’m afraid of? And why do I think money keeps that fear at bay?

I don’t have any great wisdom for you today. I wish I did. I just felt like I had to put into words what I’ve been wrestling with in my heart and my mind.

Maybe you struggle this way, too. If so, just know you aren’t alone. If not, then maybe you can share your experience with us.

What do you think? How can we relate to money without loving it?

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