In 2007, at the age of 24, I stood in a courtroom with a bald attorney whose name I don’t remember. I was there to file bankruptcy, and barely able to lift my head due to the shame I felt.
It’s a memory I would love to forget. It’s certainly not something I bring up in mid-conversation over lunch with a new friend. “Could you pass the salt? Oh … and I was $80,000 in debt by the time I was 25. Who wants dessert?”
Though I was embarrassed, I knew that day something in me had changed. I vowed to never own another credit card, and that I would be a good steward with what God had given me. I accepted His grace, despite deserving note even an ounce of it.
I recently turned 31 and still find myself living by that principle, though I must admit it’s hard. I could think of a million things I could buy today that I actually need—versus want—if only I had a credit card. But each time I put money into my savings for a rainy day, I’m able to smile, knowing I’m going to be just fine.
I was reminded of a valuable lesson my pastor recently shared: “The way you spend money flows from your heart.”
My heart was a mess. I had five credit cards and used them all. I didn’t think about a purchase before I did it. If I wanted it, I got it. Entitlement was my middle name. After all, I was running a profitable business and everything was fine. I would eventually save money, but I was too busy living in the moment.
Then I woke up one morning to learn my manager stole all the profits practically overnight. All of a sudden, there wasn’t money to pay for lease space, my house payment was due, that truck I couldn’t afford to begin with was running on fumes, and I wound up in the hospital without insurance.
I went from “living the good life” to wondering how I was going to make enough money to eat. The McDonald’s dollar menu became my best friend.
In the course of the year this took place, God humbled me. I had three jobs. The bank repossessed my truck the day I stayed home from work with a sinus infection and pneumonia. There was no fun or play; it was simple survival.
But God was there. He had my attention. I was finally listening. My heart was changing.
One. Day. At. A. Time.
Seven years after that life-changing day, I’m still picking up the pieces. There are things I still need, but I know I’ll have to wait for. I’m not rich, but I’m not poor. I drive a car that has no outside beauty, but it’s paid for. Most importantly, I’m giving back more than I’ve ever done before, and I’m doing it with a grateful heart.
I smile when I write a tithe check because I’m grateful God has allowed me to earn an income. My heart leaps when I’m able to sow small seeds into other ministries that have changed my life. I can’t wait to give!
The way I spend money today still flows from my heart, but in a healthier, gracious, more Jesus-loving way.
I think the way we spend money says a lot about who we are, what we think about and where our lives are headed.
Does that mean spending money is bad? Absolutely not. I bought myself a Roku a few weeks ago as a celebration for losing 12.75 inches in a month. But I made sure my other bills were paid before doing so. I gave back to God what was His first before I even thought about buying something like that.
Proverbs 21:20 says, “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on the side of being foolish. I like the wise side much better.
Here’s to wisdom!