Beat your head one more time against the wall … it’s Lent, it’s Lent, it’s Lent. I have to stop (fill-in-the-blank), whatever bad habit I’m doing.” I need to (fill-in-the-blank) more!”
Lent is always such a good time to break old habits and begin new ones. There was a Lent about twenty years ago when I gave up budgets. I was struggling, as a stay-at-home mom, with writing out a monthly budget. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get all the things I had to pay for to line up with what I actually had coming in. Somehow it was working in my head, but on paper it was always a deficit. That didn’t make sense and the more I tried to work it out, the most lost I became and more desperate I was to find a job I could do from home, which in turn made me one stressed-out mom and wife.
One evening close to Lent, my husband and I were working on bills and discussing ways to make it work. Nothing was coming to mind. Somehow we were buying groceries and paying bills by installment, but I could not write a plan that we could look at and know, okay this will be paid off here and that will be paid on there. I wanted answers from God when things would start to look better for our financial future. But the more I demanded the worse everything looked!
Finally, I looked at my husband and just said, “We’re getting nowhere on this. I am just going to give up worrying about it for Lent. It’s only six weeks; we won’t go totally broke by then. I just need to get money worries out of my head for a while.”
He was actually relived I had suggested it. Because honestly, the more I worried and stewed about it, the worse he felt as the main breadwinner. He felt like he wasn’t bringing home enough to cover everything.
So we began our Lent with me just paying the bills as usual, but then putting the checkbook away and moving on to enjoying our time with each other and the kids. We played outside, we went for walks, and really laughed and had fun with family.
By the end of Lent, I was so used to not worrying about money, I had just gotten into the habit of paying what needed to be paid and walking away, that I was actually even tithing better at church with no hand-wringing. I could make small purchases with cash (not a credit card) to donate to our school parties, and somehow we were still doing okay in the finance department. We even had a major appliance go out, but shortly afterward my husband got a small bonus at work that helped cover it.
I was slowly learning to let go and let God. Of course, we weren’t going out buying boats or new cars, but I was loosening my very tight-fisted grip on our finances and letting the Holy Spirit guide me in generosity and a feeling that we would be okay. And it worked. It worked so well that ever since that Lent I’ve never made a budget. We have taken family trips; been totally out of jobs; helped our kids pay for school, cars, phones, and whatever; and now are able to save for retirement, all without agonizing over it.
So don’t ever think something you work on during Lent won’t last. It can! Trust in the Lord your God and in yourself too, in letting go and asking for God’s help to take care of things. He’s got us in His Hands.
Copyright 2019 Lisa Simmons