A few weeks ago, my husband casually mentioned, “It’s the one year anniversary of signing my employment contract.”
Wow, how has these last twelve months flown so quickly, when the year before d-r-a-g-g-e-d by so slowly? It’s amazing what a little job security will do for the time clock factor. Over the last year, I have processed our time of unemployment. I have processed it financially, emotionally, spiritually, and dissected it in all around life lesson areas.
I don’t want to forget the lessons learned. I want them seared in my memory, but like any experience, the further out we get from the time period, our memory begins to fade. So I am going to spend a little time reminiscing, in hopes that I will continue to grow from those lessons learned, and in turn, encourage some of you as well.
Living Life is Easier with Money
I am going to bring the elephant to the middle of the room. I would not trade the difficult financial life lessons we have experienced over the last decade for anything, but the bottom line is: Life is easier with Money. It’s as simple as that. While I continually share ways to live on less and love it, having more and then choosing to live on less is the best of both worlds.
Most of the ideas on this blog revolve around ways to save money, but do not misunderstand one of our end goals: to build “wealth” in both the immediate, financial sense and eternal “wealth”.
The word wealth creates a multitude of feelings and emotions and honestly, for me to type right here that I want to build wealth feels very uncomfortable. I do not need money to be happy. In fact, as our family saves money, my spending habits have not changed. I could have a million dollars in the bank, and I would still shop at Goodwill because that is who I am. My core is built around living a frugal lifestyle, and I love being a good steward of what we’ve been given.
In building wealth, our end goal is to have zero debt, which means we are striving to have our mortgage paid in full as soon as we can. We are working towards having a fully funded retirement account, to pay HALF our children’s college educations in cash, again, no debt, (they will pay the other half) and during this entire time have enough to give generously, and share with people who are in need like others did for us.
Money is NOT the root of all evil, as commonly misquoted. It’s the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil, so wrapping our brains around how to have money, without placing it as an idol in our lives is one of our priorities.
Through Pain Comes Wisdom and Character
“Comfort and prosperity have never enriched the world as much as adversity has.” Billy Graham
For a year, I lived with a tummy ache whenever I had to spend money. Now, that extreme stress has passed, and I admit, I don’t miss it, but I remember. I remember what it’s like as if it were yesterday, and I do not want to forget or miss out on the gratitude that I continually experience resulting from my husband’s employment.
The majority of wisdom and character growth that I have experienced in my life has come as a result of great pain. I have so far to go on this journey and I admit, I don’t want to have my “iron sharpened” any more.I am tired of “growing” through pain.
Can I be honest and say that? I would love to continue learning amidst ease and comfort, but I also wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. The authority I hold now as a “frugal living expert” has come through experience, painful experiences.
I have lived it, learned from it, and I now want to share and encourage others that financial freedom is possible in the midst of great difficulty.
Now, please don’t think I am a martyr. Like I said before, life is much easier with money, but for those who have never experienced any sense of real financial difficulty, it’s hard to ever understand this sense of complete need. Even for those of us going through extreme financial hardship in America are still so much better off than the majority of those in other countries. We are a blessed, blessed nation.
When I climbed a volcanic mountain in South America, the view once I reached the top was unimaginable. The breathtaking beauty overwhelmed me, and yet so much of that appreciation came from the difficult trek up the mountain.
So often, I wanted to give up and turn around. I didn’t think I could make it, and yet when I reached the top, it was all worth it. Those of us who have reached that mountain through great personal pain and sacrifice can appreciate the view so much more than those who were dropped down from a helicopter. 🙂
Experience is the hardest because it gives the test before the lesson.” Jon MacArthur
If you are in the middle of financial difficulties, I feel your pain. Those are not just trite words. I was just there. It does pass, but that doesn’t mean the journey isn’t one you wish would be over with…now. Please don’t waste the pain, but don’t let it over take who you are either.
For me, my relationship with the Lord was my strength. I know He is the same yesterday, today, and forever and none of this has taken Him by surprise.
I allowed the time to strengthen us, to strengthen our family, to dig into gratitude and look daily for those blessings that before, we took for granted. Now, trust me, that was hit or miss as well. Some days were just down right bad, but in the end, we didn’t waste the pain.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” Helen Keller
Lessons Learned from Our Period of Unemployment – One Year Later (Part One…of many)