If you missed part 1, you can read it here. Twenty-eight years down, ten to go. Lest you think I only learned one major lesson during those first twenty eight years, that was not the case at all. It is just that that one particular lesson was one of the few that actually produced enough disequilibrium to change my thinking. One reason that I had few of these types of lessons was that the teaching and beliefs I developed as a child, teen, and young adult were actually quite sound. More clarifying changes in thinking were (and are) to come, but I am so very thankful for the firm foundation I developed (not on my own, of course) during those early years. I am so fortunate that I have really required a minimum of "unlearning" bad stuff and more just deepening, developing, enhancing, and taking ownership of the good stuff.
The next two big lessons that came my way were both lessons of trust. Our first year or so of marriage Michael and I were financially what I call "early-married-stupid." In other words we spent a lot of money we didn't have on things we didn't really need and dug ourselves a sizable hole of credit card debt. When we moved back to my home state, we started a business (complete with a $25,000 business loan) which failed within a couple of years. When LOTL [see sidebar for description of my "anonimizing" names for my kiddos] was a baby, cutoff notices and phone calls from bill collectors had become a regular part of our stressed-out lives. During that time I learned to truly trust God in my time of need (His grace is sufficient, even when we got ourselves into the mess); and we never had a utility cut off (repeatedly the money came miraculously in the nick of time), we always could pay the rent, and we always had food on the table (lots of beans and rice and mac and cheese.) During this time we had repented of our stupidity, read _The Complete Tightwad Gazette_ and _Financial Peace_, became very frugal, and watched God provide. Our debt was HUGE, but He helped us get a plan and begin digging ourselves out, step-by-step. Truly our "poverty days" made a huge impact on me...both how I view money and how I view God. It is never a question to me any more whether or not He will provide; AND I don't get myself into messes, THEREFORE I have money to give with no worries or fear.
The second lesson on trust was actually worse that those stress-filled years of not-quite-making-it. In fact I don't know that it was much of a lesson at all as a blow to everything I thought I knew. A person I had known for many many years, worked with, and had trusted as a "good Christian," was arrested for doing the unthinkable. At first I vehemently defended him, not believing the charges; but when it became clear that the charges were true, my world shattered. If he could do this horror, anyone could be capable of doing any evil. No one, other than myself, was worthy of my trust. I was dazed. I was disillusioned. I grieved. Slowly, I came to realize that there was One whom I could still trust. Yes, He was the only One. But more than just trusting Him alone and living a life of mistrust and suspicion with those around me, I could trust Him to show me hidden things that needed to be revealed in the moment I needed them. I did not need to rely on my own ability to protect my toddler son from all the evil in the world. What I did need to do was be sensitive to God's voice, trust it, and be willing to act on it.
Part 3 coming soon...