The life we are living creates a story. A story that is, was, and will be.
Part of our narrative includes a love and money story. But money can be messy. And then it can mess with our relationships. But it doesn’t have to. God has a bigger story for us when it comes to this mess. Whew! What a relief.
A couple of years ago, I began a new gig with brightpeak financial — a big surprise for me, as I never pictured myself working at a financial company. I mean, I didn’t exactly “fit the mold.” At the conclusion of college, I taught kindergarten and ran an afterschool program for a year. Then I relocated from Kansas to Minnesota to work for a youth missions organization. I spent 10 years serving all over the United States, doing community development and recruiting college students to spend their summers being about something more than themselves. From that adventure, I transitioned into being my own boss. I became a self-proclaimed consultant and contracted with several non-profits and organizations.
One of my clients was brightpeak. I was intrigued by how they were thinking about money. It wasn’t a typical financial company.
When we think about money, we think about it having one dimension. We think about how much we have, or how much to spend, or how much to save – that’s all practical stuff. But money is far more than practical. I learned that we actually have a multi-dimensional RELATIONSHIP with money – one that is spiritual, cultural, emotional, and behavioral. Before we can even hope to win in the practical aspects of money, we need to fully understand and appreciate the other dimensions.
My dad and I have always had money conversations. I mean, ALWAYS! I heard about saving, investing, and spending from an early age. He was very intentional and strategic with his money and worked purposefully to ensure I would carry those same values. Often our behavior is caught, not taught. He indeed taught me well, but what I caught from him was the most valuable lesson of all: generosity. I have always known my dad to serve others — not only with his time and talent, but also with his treasure. As calculated as he was with a dollar, he also made sure people did not go without. As a child, I didn’t have everything, but I never went without. And neither did my neighbors, community, or anyone in the path of my dad.
One day, the team asked me to share my earliest influential memory of money. I was in second grade, and my adored aunt had come to visit for a weekend from college. I overheard her talking about money and the hard reality of being a college student. When I heard this, I knew what I had to do. I went into my room and took my stash of cash and immediately offered it to my aunt. Her response was quite unexpected. She looked at my mom in disbelief. Not from my generosity, but because she thought I had taken money that was not mine to give her. I remember being really confused by this – why would I need to take someone else’s money? I had my own. My mom assured her that it was all mine.
“No way – there has to be $100 here.”
“Yes – it is all hers. She saves her money.”
I had no idea I was a “saver” until that moment. I thought that was what everyone did.
Fast forward through middle school, high school, college, life, life, more life, and then into marriage. Little did I know, I carried this backstory with me right into my marriage. I had no idea it had followed me, but it did. It does. In the moment of sharing this story with my team, a light bulb went off. First, I was definitely my father’s daughter! Second, I immediately saw the correlation of how this plays out in my marriage. I want to have a “stash” hidden at all times. In my mind, there isn’t another option of how to live. And I will make sacrifices – good and bad – to ensure we have a “stash.”
As my own story was becoming clear, I knew I had more work to do. This was no longer a place of employment, but a new mission. For my life, my marriage, and for the broader Christian community.
Ultimately, God’s story is a bigger one. Bigger than my money, my marriage, my employment. I had to take a serious pause and recognize the truth God is offering. His total provision — a story of how He longs for all of us to flourish in our relationships; a story of how he abundantly provides, no matter what circumstances might be hitting us. No matter what you are facing, God’s love and money story for your life can be victorious. He gave us everything we needed and asked us to steward it and to share it with others.
Once I began to really own my story and understand the multiple dimensions of money and how they play out in my relationships, I was able to find freedom. To become more confident in who God created me to be and what it could look like in my marriage. And while I am still tempted to over-focus on my emergency ‘stash,’ I am ultimately seeking to be content with what we have and generous with my husband and with others.
I have a more clear and confident view of my backstory and the priorities and values that I am seeking to keep at the center of the love and money story I’m currently creating. And that changes everything.
Join me in this journey of seeking to live our BEST love and money stories. One of the ways you can do this is by looking at your own values and priorities and seeking to put them at the center of your story. You can also check out more resources and see what we are up to at www.loveandmoney.com!