This past week, I lost an important file. For two days I have tried to recover it. I tried the help desk at Microsoft and they couldn’t find it either. So I am stuck with recreating my file. I thought that would be the case, but I kept hoping the file would miraculously come back from where it’s hidden. Now it’s just a matter of sitting down to do it. Sitting down to do something when I don’t want to do it is just hard. I have days when I know I need to post a blog, but sometimes it’s just hard to just sit down and write.
It’s the motivation that’s the key to do the things I may not want to do when I know I need to do it. Why do it in the first place? Why write? Why do I care about my finances to actually create a file to track my expenditures? Because I feel it’s the right thing to do. My motivation for most things in life is because I feel like God is pleased when I do the things I need to do to stay on track. Writing helps me to focus on the things that are important and God has placed a desire in me to share what I know.
But why do I track my expenses? A few years ago, I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course. Having a financial background, I wondered what this course could teach me. I got paid to budget for large companies but I didn’t necessarily do it for myself. I pay my bills on time, what else matters?
Through the course, I realized I had a lot to be accountable for and I wasn’t very wise in my spending habits. You see, when I get stressed or lonely or have any emotional trauma, I shop. It’s my downfall. When I started the course, I realized I spent quite a bit of money on stuff. It was a fleeting feeling of satisfaction to purchase something I wanted. I didn’t recognize my habits until I started tracking my expenses. This year’s tracking file was the file I lost.
Guess what I did when I lost the file? I started shopping trying to fill a problem with some emotional comfort. The funny thing though is that I shop differently now. I no longer buy clothes, shoes or house items. I read Jen Hatmaker’s book Seven that changed my buying habits. I don’t need a lot of “stuff” anymore. You know what I buy mostly now? Supplements or food items. I love finding new products and giving them a try. My problem is more health-related and I feel like it’s a better choice, but it still is a habit that needs to be broken. I still have to rein it back in.
Do you recognize your habits? Sometimes it takes something as simple as a budget to recognize where we get off track. God has given us resources and we will be accountable to Him for how we manage those resources. Maybe spending isn’t your stumbling block like it is mine. Maybe yours is a food issue or a porn issue or sex issue or whatever it may be. Maybe when you’re lonely you do something totally different from what you normally would on a day you feel surrounded by love. What is it for you?
The first thing we have to do is notice our choices and why we’re making them. Is the motivation for a good reason or is it an emotional response? Do you eat because your hunger or just bored? There’s a lot to discern about our habits. We get in those ruts and sometimes it takes a bit of a jolt to get us out of those destructive patterns. Habits are done out of routine. We can do it without even thinking about it. That’s why a budget was the jolt I needed to get on track. It brought a few things into focus for me.
First and foremost, I am a manager of God’s resources and He always gets His portion back first. I recognize where I need to spend the money each month before I spend the first dime. When I receive money, I don’t automatically think it’s mine to spend. God first. It’s always the way to go to bring freedom to my spending habits. Freedom not in how I spend but freedom from the strongholds that make me stumble. I don’t always get it right. I am always accountable to Him in every regard to do what I am called to do – honor and glorify Him in every respect – even putting together another tracking device to control my habits so that I will not fall short (financially and spiritually). God uses the little things to remind us where we need to be. Our job is to pay attention to those little things.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13