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Out of desperation came our greatest achievements so far.
Last week, a friend reminded me of just how far we’ve come and how desperate we felt only a few short years ago. Let me give you a little context.
In January of 2014, we met with our financial adviser and received pretty depressing news. Actually, most of the news wasn’t new. We knew we had a mountain of debt and very little extra money to invest in retirement.
Our goal in meeting with him was to figure out how to best use the money we did have, and how to plan for the future.
But after leaving the meeting, it seemed like all of our future goals were out of reach. So much for having kids anytime soon, or buying a house. Heck, we couldn’t even afford to buy a dog (which it turns out aren’t super cheap anyway).
Honestly, it felt like the walls were crumbling around us. It was so discouraging.
We spent a lot of time talking about options and goals, and a fair amount of time crying. Most of all, we felt desperate and knew we needed more help and guidance.
It’s Almost Impossible to Accomplish Goals On Your Own
Our faith played a huge role in helping us become debt free and start our family. Even though it was hard, we committed to tithe when in debt. We knew we needed to trust Jesus in our finances, and tithing was a big way for us to do that.
Like I said, we felt trapped by our circumstances, like we’d never be able to get ahead and reach our goals. Student loans dominated our budget and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. When you’re sitting with $90,000 of debt, that becomes a pretty big priority.
We felt like we were giving everything we had, and it still wasn’t enough. It felt like we were running on empty. When we feel like there’s nothing left in the tank, it’s a clear sign we need to look elsewhere to keep moving forward.
One thing I love about our church is it believes in the power of prayer, and that Jesus shows up in our lives. When Jesus lived, He prayed for people all the time, and by laying His hands on them, performed miracles. We weren’t asking for a miracle, but knew we needed His help to give us hope and courage to keep going.
In our desperation, we knew we needed our friends and community to lay hands on us and pray.
We didn’t get prayer to ask God to give us a bunch of money to pay off our loans, or even to increase our income by thousands of dollars (but either of those would’ve been cool :)). All we wanted was hope that we could reach our goals and that He would follow through with the dreams He planted in our hearts, having kids and becoming debt free.
We knew we couldn’t do that on our own; we needed Jesus to guide us, help us, and drag us along when we wanted to give up.
The cool thing is, Jesus totally showed up.
We chose to trust His plan and his promise that we would be debt free in five years.
When You Follow Jesus, It Doesn’t Mean Life Automatically Gets Easy
We had a good friend pray for us that Sunday and we felt so uplifted. It was reassuring and comforting knowing that Jesus was leading the charge of our adventure. We knew it would be a hard and long road, but we felt hopeful and knew Jesus would be there every step of the way.
Fast forward to last week at church, our senior pastors said something that will stick with me for a while. It fits really well with our last few years and all the ups and downs we’ve experienced with our budget.
They mentioned that oftentimes when we say “yes” to Jesus, we don’t really know what we’re saying “yes” to. We might have a glimpse of the goals and calling Jesus has for us, but He invites us into so much more than we can imagine ourselves.
The thing is, God views us and the world way differently than we do. We can’t possibly see all that God has planned, instead we only get a small glimpse. When we chose to trust Jesus, it didn’t mean that our circumstances changed overnight. We still had to work our butts off to pay off our debt.
Honestly, we had no real idea how we were going to become debt free or how much our lives would change.
For example, we trusted God when He said we would be debt free in five years. However, we didn’t know how many different jobs we’d have to work, sometimes 2-3 at the same time. We also didn’t know just how much we were capable of doing. Our limits were tested and we came through stronger than we thought we could be.
And unexpectedly, our story turned into this blog. I never in a million years imagined myself running a personal finance blog. But it’s been an amazing experience connecting with other people obsessed with finances, and hearing back from people who have been inspired by our story.
This last fall we also led a financial and budgeting small group at our church. A few brave souls showed up to learn how to budget and pay off debt. It was crazy cool!
Lastly, we didn’t know we’d end up buying a house my wife had dreamed of living in for years, or how amazing it is to finally be parents. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Being a Dad is seriously the best. Plus our marriage is stronger now than it’s ever been before.
All this happened because we trusted Jesus with our finances and our dreams.
Reflection Makes Us Feel Thankful
It’s fun to look back and reflect on your accomplishments and the path you took to get to where you are today. I’m so incredibly thankful for our journey and all we have learned and become along the way.
We’ve learned to work harder than we thought we could and acquired new job skills that will last a lifetime. Our trust and relationship with God has improved and grown every time we chose to say “yes” to what He asked us to do. And we found a really amazing group of friends that we will have forever.
It’s also really great to be debt free. Paying off our student loans quicker than expected allowed us to buy our modest dream house and have a beautiful baby girl. Our life feels pretty darn good, and we’re just getting started. I’m excited to keep making goals and growing in our faith.
Remember, There’s Always Hope for a Better Future
If there’s anything I’ve learned over the last five years, it’s that circumstances are always temporary. When you work hard and trust Jesus, there’s always hope for life to get better. Hope and faith kept us going for years, and honestly it keeps us moving forward today.
If you’re in a place of desperation and struggle, keep hope alive. Find community to support and encourage you, trust Jesus, and work your butt off. Life gets better.
Let Me Know in the Comments
What do you think? How do you respond in desperate circumstances? What role does faith play in your finances and goals?
Congrats to you and your wife for the incredible progress. It’s an easy story to follow because it’s so uplifting and encouraging. Thanks for putting it out there.
One thing that jumped out at me is this: nothing is permanent, things will change with time (paraphrased). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said similar words to friends and family members (and myself) along our own journey. As long as you keep pushing forward and making progress, your inputs and situation will change. Trust in God and just keep swimming.
Nice work, Jamie
Thanks Mike! Knowing that your situation is temporary can be so helpful to keep going. I have to remind myself of that a lot.
Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!
Looking back is usually the best way to determine your progress. It’s good to keep an eye on where we are going, but glancing in the rear view mirror can be incredibly motivating as we see how far we’ve come.
I think you hit the nail right on the head, glancing back is key as long as we don’t dwell too long. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Awesome and inspiring story Jamie. Keep trusting in Jesus and doing what He leads you in. Way to go! May you and your family continue to thrive and grow in the years ahead!
Thank you Kristin!
I love this post man, so real and such a great testimony! Our faith is our biggest driver in our lives as well, and it influences everything about our personal finances. Sounds like we have a lot in common!
Thanks Matt! Faith has really been the driving force and our finances would probably be a mess without following it. Maybe we can interview each other sometime? I’d love to hear your testimony.
Definitely man, I’d love that!
I missed this when you published – such an encouraging message we can all learn from! (Why do the hard things resonate with us more than the good things?!? ) Thanks for being transparent, you motivate me! ♥
Thanks Kathy! I think the hard things can hit closer to home sometimes. But I find that the hard things stick better and have a longer lasting impact. You can always sign up for my email list so you never miss a post again ??
Faith has been absolutely essential in our finances – and in our pursuit of our dreams in general. With our mini-retirement and our venture into entrepreneurship, we’ve had to put a lot more into His hands.
When monthly income is drastically less than monthly expenses, my stress level is high. But I have to remind myself that God has a plan for us; that we may not have the answers we want yet, but that God will provide them when the time is right.
We don’t know what the future holds for our family, but we know God is taking care of us and that our hard work will pay off.
Congrats on your success and thank you for sharing your faith. God has certainly been present in your lives and this post definitely brings Him praise!
Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your faith and story. When things are stressful and uncertain, trust and faith goes a long way to keep you hopeful that it will be okay.
Sometimes I need a frequent reminder that God is control and I’m not, and like you said He has a plan and it’s okay if we don’t know it. He has great ways of revealing Himself to us.