Disclaimer: I’m going to be pretty open with yall today. If you aren’t feeling hearing about Jesus, Dave Ramsey, or about how our we deal with discouragement in our family, then you will probably not want to continue. If you don’t have a problem with any of those, then I strongly encourage you to read.
Just a quick bit of background info. The debt we are currently paying on consists of my two student loans, a car loan, and our mortgage. We set a goal recently to pay off one of my student loans (a very ambitious goal) by the end of 2014. The way we have attempted to accomplish this goal is by paying all our bills and necessities, and then all extra income goes toward the debt.
Next. I’m going to sound like a complainer for a minute, but bear with me.
It seems that any time we start to make some headway on our debt payment, something happens to throw us off course. In January, our washing machine died. Thankfully we were able to purchase a new one and get a great deal! But then our entire kitchen went out of commission for about a week (no electricity or water… long story). Then Josh’s car needed a sizable repair. All within about a two week span. Thankfully, the Lord provided the means for us to pay for all of these things. I had just sold off a lot of inventory from a direct sales job I decided to retire from. The plan was to put that money toward our debt… didn’t happen. We ended up using that money for the car repair, and then also using a large portion of our emergency fund.
We spent the next two months replenishing our emergency fund. When we finally did, we had a large chunk of money to put toward my student loan in April (yay!). Then the next month, we overdrew our account twice. I can’t even remember what happened… other than life. It took us the entire month of May to get back on track. I wasn’t able to pay any money on my loan for that month. Finally, it seemed like we were back on track for the month of June, and I could pay another large sum on my loan (yay again!) and then we got an estimate to trim our trees… $4000. No joke. Unfortunately, the tree trimming is a safety/insurance issue at this point, so it is absolutely necessary. The extra income we were going to put toward my loan seemed to once again be allocated for us.
I’m not going to lie. When things like this happen it is incredibly discouraging. It is so easy to get mad, spend weeks or months getting frustrated, and just give up. I have actually wanted to do this multiple times. And yet, we have continued to make ends meet and slowly but surely pay down our debt.
This is how we have managed to do it.
1. We pray about it. When it seems like life is falling apart financially, we talk to the One who holds our future. God promises to provide for all our needs. We may not be able to accomplish all of our wants on our own personal timeline, but he is faithful to provide all our needs. This has obviously included monetary provision, but also it has been a provision of faith for us too. When we want to give up and stop trusting God, he always seems to speak in such a way that increases our faith. Most recently when I was praying about our finances (probably a month or more ago), He gave me the word “victory.” At the time I didn’t know what exactly he was speaking to, but now I know that He was speaking to our life in general. He has given us victory over our circumstances because we already have victory in Jesus. The verse that I was given was Psalm 118:14 “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”
2. We read the Bible. I believe that the Bible is the word of God and that it is true. When we face difficulty in life, we spend time (aside from our regular time with Jesus) reading the Bible. Lots of times, God will highlight a passage that speaks to our situation. Other times, I go back to the promises that I know he’s already spoken. This one is always helpful, particularly in times of financial crisis:
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.”
3. We speak truth over our thoughts. When things get especially difficult, it is easy to let your mind wander and make things even worse. An example… “Nothing ever works out for us.” “This isn’t fair.” “Everyone else seems to have things work out just right.” Etc. When these kinds of things pop into my head, the first thing I do is to speak biblical truth over those kinds of destructive thoughts. The verse that has helped me through a whole lot of frustrating situations in life is Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” Sowing is hard, and we are definitely in the sowing season right now. But when we reap the harvest, it will be glorious!
4. We continue to give. Even in our need, we give to others. We may not have much to give, but that is always a non-negotiable in the budget. And we always give of our first fruits… aka, first thing that comes out of the budget in the month is our tithe. Our church gives the best, most thorough explanation on why we give. If you don’t feel like reading all of that, the short of it is this: “So, the answer to our question, “Why do we give?” appears to be clear. All of it (our stuff) is all His anyways. We are His stewards and managers and even our ability to earn income and build assets is a gift from Him. We are blessed generously to the extent we give generously and He wants the needs of His house to be met.” Source: antiochcc.com
5. We remain diligent. It is so important that no matter what our circumstances, financial or otherwise, that we stay the course to meet our long-term goals. Giving up in times of frustration or discouragement will only push us back even further for when we finally get a grip and get back to it. We make the conscious decision every single day to be diligent and to commit to our goal of financial freedom. It’s not easy, but it is absolutely necessary.
So that’s what we have done through our times of discouragement. This is specifically written about our financial woes, but absolutely 100% applies to all areas of life. I hope if you or your family is struggling that this can be an encouragement to you.
Please know if you ever have questions about any of the information above, please feel free to contact me and I would love to discuss this more in-depth with you.
p.s. we are getting another estimate on the trees 😉