Speaking of Money and God’s Care
Socially, it is not polite to talk about money. But it’s also not socially acceptable to talk about faith. I am going to do both, together.
This past December Joshua and I knew we were going to be a bit tight financially as the year came to a close. This would not be a particularly big deal except for the approach of Christmas at the end of the month. Now, we are not extravagant in our gift giving, even to the children. But this particular December we were going to have to be less festive and abundant than one might prefer at that time of year.
Then I won $1000. It was more or less out of nowhere. Back in the summer I signed up for a new health services tracking app that our employer was piloting. As an early adopter, my name got entered in a drawing. Five months later someone is knocking on my office door congratulating me and taking my picture for our online newsletter. I even got an oversized cardboard check.
Needless to say, Joshua and I were both stunned. We were also quick to consider this providential. Privately we were grateful to God for providing a little breathing room when we were in need and making it possible to more easily provide for the children.
Interestingly, it turned out that because of the online newsletter and my picture, our prize wasn’t at all private. For the next 48 hours, folks – some of whom I knew well and others only passingly – commented upon my winnings as soon as they saw me in the halls. “Stacey, I hear you’re buying all of us lunch with your winnings”; or, “Hey, can I borrow some money to cover my mortgage payment? Hee hee.”
It was all very good-natured and done in good humor – but I was struck a bit dumb. Internally, I wanted to tell them how important it was that we got this money, and that God was providing when things were tight for us. But it isn’t polite to talk about money (or faith)…and so I was silent.
Then two days after winning the money, disaster struck. Our water heater “tanked.” For those who own houses or have had to navigate failing water heaters, you know two things: First, this is a fix-it-ASAP situation, especially in winter; and second, it costs right at or around $800-900.
Joshua and I went right to work scrambling to get quotes and schedule the replacement. In the midst of it we were able to comment and acknowledge how truly providential my $1000 prize actually was, more than we had even thought initially. God provided for us even before we knew we were in our deepest need. And it would have been deep need – three days prior we did not have $900 to pay for a water heater, and now we did.
That day and for the next two weeks leading up to Christmas, when folks on campus commented on my winnings, I had a new response. Conversations went something like this:
Colleague: “Hey, congratulations on the money. Big plans?”
Me: “Actually, the next day our water heater broke.”
Colleague: “Oh…too bad.”
Me: “You know what…we really feel cared for by God. God gave us what we needed even before we needed it. We got just enough…not much more, but not less either.”
Basically, I couldn’t be silent any longer in the face of what felt like God’s abundant care. Before the water heater emergency, I felt like I should be saying how important this money was, and how for us it was a manifestation of being held by God, but I couldn’t figure out a way into that conversation that seemed natural and not “over sharing.” Once the water heater broke, I felt like I found a way to witness to God’s grace and care in our lives in a way that was hearable to folks around me: not too much, but hopefully not too little either.