Paying the Bills

I don’t know how to write this post, not really, so let’s see how it shapes up.

One of the most difficult things for me as a wife has been watching my husband sacrifice so much, over and over, just to pay our bills.

My health has never been great, so the amount of stress and exertion I’ve been able to handle has never been terribly high. I did not work while I as a full-time student. I wouldn’t have been able to. It was all right, though. My husband graduated before me, and he worked full-time while I finished school. He worked full-time while I stayed home with our daughter for a year and half in the middle of my degree as well. He worked full-time while I worked part-time and got my master’s degree. He worked full-time while I worked part-time and took care of our son, then while I stayed home full-time with our youngest. I have never worked a full-time job outside of the home; you know, the ones that pay money.

We’ve been very fortunate, very blessed, that this has been possible. Many families find themselves in a position where they cannot afford for one of them to stay home for any reason. It has not, however, been easy, and he has carried the majority of that particular burden.

He has worked awful jobs with decent management. He has worked decent jobs with awful management. He has worked just plain awful jobs. He has lost jobs for valid reasons and invalid reasons he could do nothing about.

I thought, when I was considering the future of this series, that I would outline his work history as I have my other experiences, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I don’t think that’s the point. It certainly isn’t my story. What is my story is how his faithfulness and God’s provision have always been sufficient.

Our lives have not been easy. We have had periods of comfort, but we have had periods of significant financial stress. Here’s the thing, though: however meager our savings have been, they have always seen us through to the next job, and usually just barely.

I want to make this clear: I am not saying that faithful Christians will never lose their car or be evicted or find themselves in significant debt. I am not saying that faithful Christians will never experience financial failure.

What I am saying is that in our lives, for whatever reason, God has seen fit to demonstrate his hand in our lives in ridiculously improbably timing more than once. There have been temporary jobs that paid our bills, jobs that lasted just long enough to get us by until a more stable position was available. We have used the last of our emergency savings the day before his first paycheck from the new job came through more than once. I cannot promise this will be your experience, but for whatever reason, God has seen fit to make our lives a direct case study of his promise to literally provide. And yes, sometimes that has been through the financial intervention of those who care about us, the willingness of our families to lift us up through a particularly rough patch.

Once, when I had a flat tire that we could not afford to replace, I rolled to a stop, on the side of the interstate, directly over a wallet with a $100 inside. The tired cost $98 after tax. Seriously.

God’s provision is miraculous. I could preach sermons on God’s provision for my family. But you know what else deserves recognition? What is also quite remarkable? What is also amazing? My husband’s faithfulness.

He has never complained about what he has sacrificed to provide for us.

Does he complain about the bad bosses? Yeah. Does he complain about the bad jobs, the boring jobs, the inane jobs? Yeah. You know what he doesn’t complain about? Having to do them. Having to do them while I ‘get’ to stay home with the kids. He has never once made me feel less than or indebted or in any way responsible for the sacrifices he’s had to make.

When you look at our life, you might see a lot of broken pieces from shattering job experiences. You might see a lot of edges that are still sharp: betrayals, denied opportunities, financial trauma. You might see a riot of color and pattern from just how many unfulfilling and/or abusive positions he’s held. But you know what you’ll definitely see? An amazing mosaic of a deeply devoted and faithful partnership that is only possible because we continually choose, together, to hand the pieces over to God and watch what he makes with them.

The sharp edges cut, and sometimes we bleed, but we gather them together anyway, and we hand them over. We ask what’s next, and we move forward. Together.

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