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August 12, 2012

Living an Abundant Life....Beyond "me"

Tyler and I learned a tough yet valuable lesson this week. Budgeting. We had a bunch of unexpected expenses in July. It was also our first full month of being married so we hadn’t really developed a budget. We had no idea exactly how much money would be coming in and on top of our fixed expenses, I ran a red light (whoops…$300 dollar ticket), Tyler had to pay off a laptop from Apple (which was unfortunately stolen last month), we had to buy a fancy $100 bark collar for Cooper the bark-hound to keep the neighbors happy and both of us had work expenses that we had not yet been reimbursed for. My first thought was, “Ahhh…living the Johnson County dream!”

My husband is an optimist. I, on the other hand, began to sulk. I started to think about everything that we weren’t going to get to do. “There goes that Fall New York City trip I was looking forward to, ” I told myself. “Great, now we won’t be able to have kids for like 5 years until we save some money.” I went on…”I really wanted to get some fall clothes.” “How are we going to be able to afford to go to Florida for Christmas?” More and more of these thoughts kept consuming my mind. Anxiety and sadness swept over me and I couldn’t see anything else. All I wanted to do was lay in bed and feel sorry for us when the truth is, I knew deep inside that we are so incredibly blessed and have more as newlyweds than most. I finally pulled myself out of bed and tried my best to continue with my day. I cleaned, did laundry, wrote wedding thank you notes and did the best I could to keep myself busy to where I wouldn’t continue to have these negative thoughts. My parents even came and picked Tyler and I up and took us to see the latest Will Farrell comedy and out for Mexican food. I can’t even begin to describe how lucky Tyler and I are to have parents that are always there to pick us up off our feet. All 4 of them got us through the week. We love them so very much. I went to bed Saturday, still sad and worried, but excited that Sunday was a new day.

Today came and we got up and decided to visit a friend’s church in town. Some of you may not know but my husband is in seminary studying for his Masters of Divinity. He is already an ordained minister but he believes ministers have a responsibility to be just as educated as politicians, doctors, lawyers and other business professionals. Tyler was working in the “corporate world” in Oklahoma City making a pretty decent salary about 2 and a half years ago but he felt a calling. He felt God’s pull and decided to give up his safe life to pursue the gifts God gave him in ministry. Upon many prayers before picking up his life and moving to Kansas City for further schooling, he asked God to provide so he could live the life He had prepared for him. 

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

This was the word of God in church today. These were the words that I felt were spoken especially to me. Today, I looked at my life and all I have done and thought about this past week and began to realize that it was “meaningless” and I was “chasing after the wind.” I had forgotten to focus on the blessings…health, love, and safety. These are the true riches in life. I had forgotten to trust in the Lord because in the end, he will always provide meaningful gifts upon patience, faith, and serving others. Living this life will be fulfilling in a purposeful way. I must learn to deny myself of material things and thoughts. 

So in Mark 10:28, Peter asked Jesus whether or not this “other’s-first” plan would really pay off. In other words, can we relate to Peter’s concern about whether there would really be any benefit or payback for trusting Jesus and living beyond ourselves? The answer is yes. God will always provide to faithful followers. Worrying and not trusting in Him will not teach us. It will not provide a true faithful ending in prosperity and true salvation. 

From now on, I will try my best to focus on the blessings. I will focus on others and I will continue to be thankful for my already cozy life. Clothes and trips to New York City just don’t compare to what I will have in the end. Salvation. 

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