My husband and I are both active members of the LDS church. He served a mission. When he gives blessings, I know for a fact that he is being guided and directed and that he has been given words he would never use or know to use in those instances. He can quote scripture like no other, and I consider myself pretty well-versed.
But somehow, the things he finds to doubt, I just don’t.
For many years in our marriage, we have struggled with tithing.
“10% is so much,” he would say, “We just don’t have it to give.”
I had never thought of it that way. I had never considered whether it was too much, or if it was something you did or did not pay. You pay tithing–it’s what you do.
So, we paid sporadically on his paycheck. When we could afford it. And it ate me up inside.
You can give me crap for following church rules mindlessly, or feeling too guilty about things. But I firmly believe in tithing, and that paying it is a very small price, and I didn’t enjoy reasoning with myself constantly that “well, he earns the money, so he doesn’t have to if he doesn’t want to”. But once I didn’t have a job anymore (to be home and raise kids), then suddenly…that was all our income, and we weren’t paying tithing.
And I started paying it, because now I reasoned that it was both our incomes.
It was still sporadic. But I tried. While I believe in relying on the Lord, there’s no reason to make your spouse angry over something they don’t agree with. There has to be some amount of unity. So, we kept trying.
But still, “It’s so much of our income. We could pay down debt.”
I’m a huge money-miser. I hate spending money. I would love to pay down debt that accumulated from a few periods of joblessness, from student loans, from buying a bigger car when our family grew. It took us a year to pay off the hospital bills from our last baby. Of course I wanted to pay off debt!
For all the things that weren’t obstacles in my husband’s faith, tithing was.
I made him budget for it. I promised God that I would pay it first before I paid our other bills. Sometimes I compromised, and then paid the full amount for two weeks the next week.
“It’s just so much money.”
Where was the proof that this was helping?? Where was the proof that I wasn’t causing needless strife in my marriage?? Where was the proof that things were really improving, and that tithing was the reason for those improvements??
There wasn’t any. Last year was awful. We lost jobs, dealt with legal issues, went into debt to stay afloat…it was rough.
But I kept paying.
And I can’t say tithing is the reason, but guess what’s happened?
We’ve been able to buy a house.
We’ve been blessed to get a new job that will pay more, and allow my husband to work normal human hours.
We’ve been blessed that his old job wants to keep him, and will let him work from home and pay him hourly for the extra work.
We’ve been blessed with just enough to eke by each month. (Literally, we’ve had less than a dollar in our account some weeks, but we’ve always had food!)
We’ve been blessed with small car miracles, where we thought we were out of gas but somehow the battery had simply been unplugged, or we could get money back for a recycled part, or we could somehow manage to afford new tires to get through the winter.
We have been blessed!
There’s no graph where Heavenly Father marks “well, for each good deed you do, I give you this exact blessing”. It’s not so literal as that. And sometimes, the blessings that “pour from the windows of heaven” aren’t quite up to our high and maybe unreasonable standards.
We aren’t getting rich quickly. We don’t have that extra 10% to pay off debt. We don’t eat out as much as we’d like and we certainly don’t eat steak or sushi as often as I want. (Mmmm steak.)
But we have enough. And we share what we have, and then, much like the loaves and fishes, it seems we always have just more than enough.
We are rarely without, and even then, we are blessed beyond measure.
I’ll end on one last little anecdote, that just happened within the last hour, no joke:
While paying a tithing two-fer today, my husband texted (since the statement showed up in his email) and basically he was like “so much money whyyyy”.
I knew it was coming. I dread conflict terribly. I didn’t know what to say besides something along the lines of “I know this seems unreasonable to you but I’m doing my best to do what Heavenly Father asks”. And I prayed for the right thing to say, because I just didn’t know.
So God emailed my husband. I didn’t get the email, so that’s the only explanation I can give you.
I have yet to read this email, but from the text I got from Husband, it said:
“How Questioning Was a Good Thing: In this age of instant answers, we sometimes get frustrated when answers to our most personal, imp…” and that’s all the summary I could get.
But it was enough.
God answers prayers (and if you think it’s usually this instant for me, it’s not. More miracles!) and he’s constantly reaching out to make this easier for us. He is our PARENT. He LOVES us and understands that we don’t always get why we’re doing things, or what we’re going to get out of it, and he doesn’t want us beating ourselves up that we even stopped to think “but what do I get out of it?”. We’re all little children still learning. He knows that. He’s not out to condemn you.
I firmly believe that if you keep asking, and keep trying to live by faith, you will be blessed, even with the smallest of miracles. They sometimes don’t seem like miracles, but they are.
…gosh, I just got the email and I’m reading the address attached and thank goodness for Elder Uchtdorf and his wonderful guidance! It has so many answers!
Heavenly Father is paying attention and he loves you. The answers are coming. Have faith.
I HAVE FAITH IN YOU.
And whatever you are going through, if it’s something as silly and little as not agreeing on tithing with your spouse, or something huge, or something that feels huge but won’t later, no matter what it is, I freaking love you and know you can do this. God never gives us things we can’t handle, despite sometimes it feeling like he has way more faith in us than we do in ourselves (which is true, really, He does).
Miracles come through obedience and sacrifice, no matter how big or small that sacrifice may seem. Miracles come.