Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Financial Lent (Post-Cana Post)
My husband and I have been scraping the bottom of the financial barrel lately. It couldn't have happened at a better time. Lent is about sacrifices, after all, isn't it? Some sacrifices are voluntary, but some are imposed from the outside. Cheerfully accepting the sacrifices we haven't asked for is as valuable as imposing mortifications of our own choosing. Cheerful acceptance, of course, is easier said than done.
For many prosperous years, I watched our finances obsessively, fearfully, hawk-like. It finally dawned on my that what I feared was my own mistakes. Was I guilty of money mismanagement, stupidity, greed, wastefulness? As our family grew, our belts got tighter. No matter how we budgeted or planned, we always seemed to hit the financial skids at least once a year, usually in January. This January was no exception, except that it was worse than usual.
We've experienced a series of financial whammos lately, including multiple car accidents, starting medical treatment to control my eldest daughter's attention deficit disorder, braces for what seems like every child, and-and-and. But, for once, my fragile hold on peacefulness has not been broken. The fault for these financial calamities cannot be laid at my door. Calamity is like "Our Lady's caress," as Pope John Paul II famously called the assassin's bullet that wounded him. Who can lose their peace when Our Lady is just introducing us to the kind of life she lived? Even temporary poverty gives us a glimpse of the absolute trust that Our Lady must have placed in God to provide for her family's daily needs.
Besides, God has showed his care for me in so many dramatic ways these past few months. Week after week, my mission to spread the Church's good news about marriage and family has received a surprising boost. Chance meetings with chancellors, unexpected offers by editors, unanticipated invitations from publishers, all adding up to an overwhelming overload of blessings. The blessings aren't financial right now, but that's okay.
In this amazing season of Lent, I feel like I'm body-surfing through surging spiritual waters, rocketing up, plummeting down, can't breathe, rushing faster-than-fast, but dry land waits ahead for me. When I'm thrown on the sand, God will be there to pick me up. He has numbered the hairs on my head. He knows what I need, what my family needs, and he will provide.