Monday, 1 April 2013

Simplifying - One Year On

One year ago today my courageous husband gave up his safe but very stressful mortgage and bill paying job, halving his salary and not really knowing where the rest of the money would come from.

There were a number of reasons we made this choice, but the main one was that his job took him away from our family too much and he was frustrated that he couldn't be here for us and for our church family, Gracechurch. He felt trapped in a cycle of needing to work to pay the bills, but also needing more time for the people and things that are more important than bills. His job was often stressful and regularly contributed to illness. He could never get the work done that was required of him and his email inbox became his enemy. At home, we suffered the consequences of his stress and even when his body was here, his mind was elsewhere. He was anxious about money and always checking our account to make sure there was enough in there. It felt like we were trapped between rock and a hard place. As they say in the TV programme, The Cube, we needed to simplify.

And then we made one of the most liberating decisions we have ever made. He gave up the career ladder progression (for which he was earmarked in the company, but deep down we knew it would take him further away from us) and took a part time job as the assistant to the person who is now doing his old job. He set up Outdoors Unlocked as a way of making this happen and we thought this would be the road down which we would walk.

And it still is the road, but as we have taken each step forward we have discovered new provisions and different ways of earning the money that we need. We have realised that, in a strange way, it doesn't really matter where the money comes from. Jared gave up the notion that he had to provide for us and began to look to our Father in heaven to do the job instead. Now he has several jobs which all fit into our family life (including cleaning toilets, much to the boy's disgust!) and I contribute too with my job and my writing. Far from being anxious about money, Jared actually stopped worrying about it altogether! Every time we have a need, it is provided for. We've had more problems with our car this year than any year since we've been married, but each time we have been able to pay the bills fully and on time.

It sounds as though life is more complicated but actually, it all fits. It's so simple, and our goal of having Jared at home more for our family and our Gracechurch family, has been achieved. It brings so much freedom and has transformed our lives.

The last year has taught us so very much about our priorities, about where our provision really comes from, about who we trust in and about what we can actually live without. It has shown us how much we were relying on ourselves to pay the bills. As we have given up the reins of our finances, we have breathed out a huge sigh of relief. It hasn't all been plain sailing, but our Father in heaven has not once let us down. He is so very faithful and has, this year, given us so much more than just the money we needed. We have sat around the table together as a family and asked God to provide for our needs, and then celebrated together when these prayers have been answered. Our boys' faith has grown as they have seen these awesome answers, sometimes in such small and simple ways. It's exciting, liberating and far far less stressful than our complicated life a year ago. Simplifying, whilst it felt scary at the time, was the best choice we've ever made.

I don't know what the next year will bring, but I am not so afraid of the unknown anymore. Our family is on an adventure with the One who always holds us in His hands, even when it doesn't feel like life is going the right way. He knows, and that's all I need to know.

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