Hello, my name is Amee and I’m an anxious mess about finances.
You know what the very worst career is for people who are hella nervous about money? Entrepreneurship. Now guess what my husband does for a living? He’s an entrepreneur. Yay.
I’ve been on an interesting (read: terrifying) journey this past year and it’s a literal roller coaster. Rumor has it the ride isn’t over yet and I may be eternally aboard Start-Up Splash Mountain. Sometimes I want to go back to the days where that mean man shatters amusement park dreams and says, “You aren’t tall enough to go on this ride.” That’s just fine with me, buddy. I’ll wait here and eat my cotton candy. #designatedbeverageholder
I think I’d like to return to the earlier days in the world of self-employment when things sort of fell into place. Each month trended upward getting better than the month before. It was a lovely place to live. Ahhhh. This feels nice. Bring me a San Pellegrino with a slice of lime, please and thank you.
These recent days haven’t been like those days. It’s been less San Pellegrino and more knock-off La Croix. I’ll spare you the specifics, because it really doesn’t matter, but think of all your favorite small business challenges and then string them together into one calendar year. And since many small business challenges heavily involve money (and money makes me want to throw up in my mouth), I became such a lovely person. 2018 was the year I wanted to throw in the towel. Good night everyone.
I kept thinking surely things would just miraculously go back to the way they were, so I would set false finish lines in my head.
Don’t act like you’ve never done this. I’ve seen your TGIF Facebook posts and you are fooling no one. Monday comes every week, guys. I have a calendar if you need a copy.
Let’s experience my illogical brain of destination disappointment:
“I’m sure by Halloween, I will feel so very festive and fun as I trick or treat from house to house with my children. KING SIZE CANDY BARS FOR EVERYONE BECAUSE MY WALLET WILL BE NICE AND FULL” #thatstwocandybarsforyoubuddy
“OK, definitely by my birthday, we are going to be able to really celebrate this year because I’ve paid my dues of hardship and am for sure owed a life of lovely after all we’ve been through”. #airbnbbaby
“Actually, I just know by Christmas, this will all be water under the bridge. We will string popcorn and cranberries, cascading down our tree chopped from a local farm in our matching family pajamas of course, because we are for sure Christmas card material this year.” #uploadtoshutterfly #hohohopeful
Well, that was a super fun exercise wrapped in self-induced disappointment. Zero out of zero people surveyed recommend setting unrealistic expectations.
By the close of 2018, I was a wreck.
I ended up eating my feelings in children’s Halloween candy #teamreecespumpkins.
I spent my birthday just trying to regulate my emotions. #thisis32
I lost the capacity to shop for Christmas gifts in the way I always had in the past.
Somebody find me precious Ryan Seacrest because this NYE ball better drop right now.
Did you know sometimes God doesn’t lift your burdens right when you want Him to? It’s very annoying if you ask me. Perhaps He forgot I’m very smart and skilled because I still have all the words to ‘NSYNC’s debut album memorized and can also perform a sweet one-handed cartwheel right here in my very own living room. Clearly, I should rule my life. Obviously what’s best for me is the easy, comfortable, very wide and financially stable path. HOOK A SISTA UP, LAWD. I BELIEVE.
Narrator: but the Lord didn’t hook her up. He took her comfortable self-reliant lifestyle, raised her some JT, and whispered in her ear “BYE, BYE, BYE”.
This is the point in my post where I’d like to tell you this amazing recovery story but I’d be lying. I’d like to share with you that I’m living my best life now. Nope, sure not. However, this time is not in vain.
As much as I hate the struggle, I’ve learned that struggle often precedes growth, and boy am I sure growing.
I’m learning what it means to sit in hard places for what feels like an eternity. I’m learning what it means to truly press into Jesus when I don’t have much left. I’m learning that contrary to popular belief, I lack control over just about everything in my life.
I’m learning that deep down, the source of my anxiety is ugly pride.
And while I don’t have it all figured out, I do have these five revelations to share with you that have been anchors to my survival. I hope they are as helpful to you as they have been to me:
1. Just do today
This is so opposite of our American culture where we are told to plan, predict, insure, hustle, and worry ourselves to the point of nonfunctional. Stop the madness. Get off the carousel of crazy. We don’t know what tomorrow holds and the Bible doesn’t instruct us to worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:25–27 tells us, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
We need to do today. And then we need to get up and do the next day. And then the next day. And then the day after that. I think it’s OK to have plans and preferences, but we need to hold them real loosely, guys. You know what happens when you just do all the days? Epic disaster.
I’d loan you my paper bag for hyperventilating but it has a hole in it.
2. Be faithful with what you’ve been given.
I’ve learned that comparing my situation with others is not helpful to me. I’ve sure talked with a lot of people this past year, and I have yet to encounter anyone in my exact situation. Instead of comparison, the better questions to ask myself are:
“Am I being faithful with what I’ve been given?”
“Am I still loving and serving others even though I’m sort of hating life right now?”
“Am I stewarding what resources I have left to things that really matter?”
“Am I being obedient even when I’m dealt the crap hand?”
“Can I still trust that God is a good God even though this doesn’t feel good right now?”
Spoiler alert: this is harder than it sounds, but I would tell you this is a much better way to evaluate your life in a challenging season.
3. I am promised a comforter, not a comfortable life
This is the hardest lesson of all. Jesus promises to be my comfort. 2nd Corinthians 1:3–4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” But gosh dangit, where are the verses about me being comfortable?
“Blessed are those who wear their cozy sweatpants, with perfectly microbladed brows, drinking Starbucks cold foam brew, for they will inherit the earth.”
I pulled that straight out of the millennial mom Bible if you’d like to fact check me.
Indeed, I am not promised a life of comfy. In fact, the Bible is really clear that as Christians, we will indeed suffer. John 16:33 tells us “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” While I’d like to avoid all pain and frustration, it’s here in these hard places that I grow closest to Jesus. Something tells me if I got to be cozy all the time here on earth, I’d forget to cling to my ultimate source of comfort and what a tragedy that would be.
4. Better to be terrified on Team Jesus than fearless on Team Satan
Big gulps. Does entrepreneurship scare me? EACH AND EVERY DAY. But, it’s where God has me and I have I to trust that if He has me here, I’m supposed to breathe normally. Does my brain think it would be less risky to have our family immersed in the 8–5 corporate land that offers more dollars, perks, and unlimited fountain soda? SIGN ME UP FOR THAT DREAMBOAT LIFE.
But since that’s not God’s plan right now, I have to remind myself I’d be in a much worse spot living my life in a way that makes sense to me but is opposite of Jesus. Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” and Proverbs 3:5 states, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Thats good news, because my understanding is that entrepreneurship is a b-a-n-a-n-a-s lifestyle and I have no choice but to lean on an understanding outside of my own. Ron Dotzler of Abide in Omaha, NE says it this way: “The most dangerous place to live is outside the center of God’s will,” and I think that’s exactly right.
5. Dueces, prosperity gospel
JESUS WILL GRANT ME SUPERNATURAL PEACE AND DOLLARS AND SECURITY BECAUSE I JUST HAVE SO MUCH FAITH. #believetillyouachieve #prayandslay
No way, Jose. If I see those hashtags in real life I will report you to the Facebook spam filter. It was nice knowing you.
We have to be so careful in a culture that preaches to us that if we hustle hard, chase after wins, grind it out, set big goals, and have all the faith, that we will indeed be successful. That is some serious prosperity gospel that I can’t buy into, nor should you. There are no guarantees of earthly blessings. I’ve seen some of the hardest working people fail.
On the contrary, we all know those folks who put in a minimum to average amount of work, and boy did things sure take off for them. This is not a math equation where you can just plug in # of hours x heart desires and it will equal your wildest dreams + blessings from the Lord. No sir.
I don’t know if I’ll be “successful” or if you will be either, but my hope is found outside a tropical vacation post with a caption that reads hashtag blessed. The Bible indeed promises us blessings, but those gifts we receive are often in the form of spiritual blessings. We see in Ephesians 1 that some of these are listed as adoption, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, grace, and reconciliation with Christ. That sounds better to me. I’ll leave the slaying to Buffy. #90sjokes
So there you have it; stuck in this strange dichotomy of nervous train wreck but experiencing supernatural peace. I think they call this being human. Scared but sanctified. Crumbling but calm. High-strung but hopeful. Hectic but held.
Originally published on Medium
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