We work for it, use it to live and this past season has taught me so much about this subject as I have literally picked up my life, moved across the world and spent all I had in obedience to the call. I know this is a fun topic to tackle because everyone has different views on the ‘appropriate’ amount to save and spend or what different seasons and obedience should/could look like, but I wanted to share a bit of my journey when it comes to the ‘m’ word – money.
Having my first babysitting job at 13, then getting my first ‘real job’ at Hungry Jacks (Burger King), to then working a myriad of other jobs since then including working at a bank, I’ve learnt the lesson of budgeting, saving and spending. At a very young age, Mum and Dad instilled wisdom around money since we got our first bit of ‘pocket money’ – if I was given $5, I would Tithe 50c, put aside 50c in two different savings accounts and then I was able to spend the remaining money however I pleased. When I eventually started earning more than $5, my sister introduced me to her budget spreadsheet. It soon became extensive as I documented every cent that went in and out of my account, with different pages, formulas, colours – the works! Using this method of saving and spending, I was able to pay for myself to go on two mission trips and a few small interstate holidays, and also have a social life, all while putting money aside in a savings account that I didn’t touch. In all of my financial decisions, I generally leant more towards the frugal side, I wouldn’t spend money I didn’t have and budgeted for big bills week-to-week so that I was always prepared. Even in the few small seasons of my working life where I was out of a job, I still had a safety net of savings, which I rarely dipped into.
New Year’s Eve 2015 rolls by and I feel God speak to me about being debt free, so I could live lightly and move when He said: “move”, out of Luke 9. A few months later, I started the process of selling my car to get rid of my loan. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hope because I sold my car for less than I owed and I also needed to buy a car outright, so I needed to dip into my savings but, even then, I was confident that operating out of obedience brings blessing.
Fast forward to October 2016, and God speaks to me (for the second time) about moving across the world to study at BSSM and be in a position where I’m unable to work and fund myself. My initial answer both times was “I can’t. I don’t have the money.” What you may not know is that at this point in my life, I had accrued a decent amount of savings with the intention of buying an investment property sometime in the near future to build a portfolio. I had also recently made the decision to move out of home by myself – a seasonal and God-ordained decision that brought so much health and healing – and was on a contract for my job. So you could say that this decision to pursue BSSM was not one that fit into my plans of financial self-security, but God so kindly replied, “You do have the money, you just don’t want to spend it. Your money is for your going, not for your staying.” Well, okay then.
On that same night, God also spoke to me about going on a mission trip to Nicaragua with my church – another financial undertaking. It’s hilarious, really – looking back and seeing the moments you said “yes”, even when it makes no rational sense! So I sold my car, paid for my flights, the mission trip and the majority of my BSSM first year tuition, all with the knowledge that I wouldn’t have enough in my savings to get me through first-year and, to be honest, I wasn’t a fan. I struggled with the fact that I couldn’t have an income or a job to take care of myself and that I had to pry open my hands of control. I really put myself in a position where my only option was to rely on and trust in God, something that we often talk about, but don’t always live out day-to-day. Oh, and I forgot to mention that in December 2016, I finished up my job contract, moved in with a friend to spend less on rent, started a business (in obedience) and was unemployed for three months. As you can imagine, my safety net of savings was slowly decreasing. I end up getting a job as a waitress where they knew from the get-go that I would only be in Australia for three more months, but hired me anyway and ended up giving me 30-38hrs a week! All I can say is “God”.
June arrives and I move back in with my parents to spend time with them and save more money, and, in a blink of an eye, it’s July. So I leave Australia, go to Nicaragua, then go to England for visa purposes and then finally make it to Redding. I desperately wanted a car while I was in Redding – I’m all about that independent living – but God spoke to me while I was in England and said “no”. Ha – Good! Again, that’s not exactly how I had planned.
While in Redding, I lived pretty basically with my savings; spending money on groceries, some social outings and chipping in for petrol (gas) money, but I’ll never forget when I paid my last month’s rent and bought the last bit of groceries that I could afford in October. Talk about choosing peace over anxiety! I’m not gonna lie, it was tough as all heck, but the testimonies and the moment-by-moment provision kept me fighting. I was cleaning in my kitchen one night and my phone buzzes – $60 sent to me from a fellow student and friend with a note “grub”. As you can imagine, I cried and then texted him. Then there was that time a few friends from home sent me money to help me pay rent or living expenses, or when a lady in my Revival Group gave me money to pay my mission trip deposit and some of my rent, or when a large family who also needed money got blessed with a large amount and they felt to bless me with some of it, or when my mission trip was paid off by people who believe in and champion me in this season of my life, or when my parents blessed me immeasurably by sending monthly support, or when $80 was anonymously stuffed into my backpack by someone at school. These are the moments that I constantly go back to stand on to remind myself that God is bigger than any circumstance. I’ve also made a spreadsheet documenting almost every dollar that has been given, to foster a heart of gratitude towards God and the people who felt to give.
But even in all the provision and blessing in my financial lack, never once have I forgotten the value of money and the sacrifice required to obtain it. If I could work, I would, but I can’t. And living by faith financially is tiring, because you need to pull your heart and soul into a constant place of surrender and not let anxiety steal even a moment of your joy. People can look at this season of my life and call it ‘lazy’, ‘stupid’, or ‘dishonourable’, but that’s not my heart or the heart of the Father. This season is simply an act of obedience, one that I wouldn’t choose for kicks and giggles. And I say ‘season’ because I don’t see myself living this way for the rest of my life. But even when I have a job, an income and money, I want to dream beyond my bank account in faith that God is bigger and will fulfil His promises. In fact, I look forward to the day when the roles are reversed and I can be the one to give and champion others in their God-given call.
In this season, I’ve learnt to live off of $10 a week in groceries and still honour my friends by giving gas money. I’ve learnt to trust the God of abundance and provision. I’ve also learnt to partner with what God is doing and take some scary leaps of faith. And I don’t say all this to boost myself up in your eyes or to prove anything but to give you my honest perspective, to answer questions and to even spark your faith in areas that you’re struggling to fully give over to God – money aside. He’s worth every moment of obedience, the fight of faith and every aspect of my life.
Despite the financial stress, emotional turmoil, missing friends, family and major events, and the daily grind of going against my normal tight grip of control, BSSM is a decision I would choose to make ten times over. This is a season of training and equipping, of growing in the Lord and my identity, of going deeper in intimacy with Him and being surrounded by community in amidst my process. My first year rocked me to my very core and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for second year – something challenging, but exciting all at the same time, I’m sure!
In the very moment of writing this, I’m having to choose peace over anxiety, because in 36 hours – 11:59 pm on August 1st – the remaining amount on my tuition is due and I’m holding out to see God come through because He always does. I would love for you to be partnering with me in prayer over the next 36 hours as the clock ticks closer and closer, for an ability to rest and trust and for the provision to come through. I don’t write any of this to convince you or beg, but if you do feel led to partner with me financially, you can donate to my tuition via this link. I’m also open to answering any questions you may have surrounding my process, or if want to find out other ways you can support me in this season via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like I said, I know this is an interesting and tough topic to tackle and I hope my vulnerability and transparency brought clarity, understanding and even freedom. If you disagree with any of what I have written or it has caused offence, please know that it’s not my heart, I’m simply sharing my journey and what I’ve learnt in the process.