[On this last day of the blogiversary month, let’s take one more stroll down memory lane and search the depths of our hearts.]
Last week, I suggested keeping track of your spending as a possible first step to becoming more involved in managing the family’s finances. And I am taking this step myself, since I know I need to be more conscious of my spending, especially on food, which is what I buy most. Sure, food is important. Food is essential. It is a blessing from God to be enjoyed. But it’s a little embarrassing to see how many times some purveyor or another of French fries appears on my bank statement. What does that say about me? I have heard more than one pastor say that you can tell a person’s priorities by looking at his or her checkbook. This seems to be supported by Scripture.
~~But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21-22, NASB)~~
Maybe that’s why it can be so difficult to discuss finances with our spouses. Maybe these conversations reveal the true conditions of our hearts, and who wants to talk about the true condition of our hearts?? It’s quite possible that when there are unresolved heart issues, money arguments aren’t really about money. One spouse wants to discuss a budget, the other one fears being controlled. Four little words like, “We’re short this month,” can really mean:
You spend too much.
You shouldn’t have taken (or quit) that job.
It’s because you wanted to buy this house that we can’t afford.
Even if the speaker is not (knowingly) holding a secret grudge, the hearer could be filtering the words through insecurities about his/her earning potential, or lingering regret or shame over a financial mistake for which the family is still paying. Rather than churn up all these issues, it is easier (in the short-term) to avoid talking about money, or to just ignore it altogether.
My husband and I have both had to admit money-related mistakes, and confess resentment we’ve held for the other’s actions or inaction. Some things were acknowledged long ago and now we laugh about them, others have been revealed only in recent months. These feelings were not easy to admit. But even after we have received the Lord’s forgiveness, sometimes we need to “confess [our] sins to one another, and pray for one another so that [we] may be healed” (James 5:16a, NASB).
Then again, if money is a difficult topic, maybe it’s not because of unconfessed bitterness against our spouses. The conflict and tension could reveal an even deeper issue. Just between us and God.
If we truly trusted God as our source, would we be less tempted to try to control our spouse’s behavior?
If we were content with what He’s already given us, would we put less pressure on our spouses or ourselves to earn more?
May the Lord help us see what is truly at the heart of these issues, and may the Psalmist’s prayer be ours:
~~Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24, NASB)~~