I didn't grow up in a Mormon household. I never grew up paying tithing. What you made was what you made and anything after bills was yours to do with whatever you wanted.
When I came back to the church, and when we got married--Daniel and I started paying tithing together. Boy howdy am I grateful for the example his parents set for him that tithing comes first...because it probably wouldn't have been paid.
In a military family, we don't make a lot of money. We make enough to get what we need but not a whole lot else. In the beginning we literally lived paycheck to paycheck. We would have $15-$20 in the bank account before we got paid again. When you have a brand new baby--that is pretty freaking scary. Those are the days I struggled paying tithing. There was hundreds of dollars we could be using for our family, that we could be saving for our family, and BAM it was gone. Tithing helps those in need, and those less fortunate...and in those times I really felt like we were the less fortunate. I really felt like we couldn't afford tithing and I hated paying it. There was awhile there where Daniel would always double, even triple, check to make sure I had paid it.
|Ahhhh these little slips. Love/ Hate Relationship with them.|
I am happy to say we have been full tithe payers since we got married. But I am not happy to say that I have resented tithing for more than half of our marriage.
In the last year, as I have drawn closer to the gospel and His plan, I have been able to let that resentment go. I have been able to see the blessings that come from paying tithing dutifully. I have been glad and proud to pay tithing.
But...in the last few months I have truly been struggling again. I feel like I am back in that place two years ago when we had first moved to Monterey and had no money. The move to Georgia took a lot out of us financially, even though we saved for it all spring and summer. Then, Daniel's brother got married and we flew to Utah. Thankfully his parents paid for the tickets, but we overspent there. We didn't make wise decisions at all. We don't regret going at all, but we wish we would have been more responsible about it.
It doesn't help that we made decisions based on Daniel's pay being raised (for his recent two promotions) and his pay has been messed up for almost three months and we are being shorted hundreds of dollars. But all we can do is sit and wait while the military takes its time to fix it.
So, in the past few months what I call my 'bubble' has been broken. The cushion I created last fall for us to always have in our bank account, is gone. Which makes me so darn mad. We have worked hard the past year to get rid of as much revolving debt as humanly possible. We paid off my ring, we paid off our car (two years early! which saves us over $1,000!), we paid off a revolving overdraft account Daniel had been using while he was in Texas.
We don't currently have any payments that are "frivolous" We only have cable because there is only ONE place that services internet where we live and it was a ton cheaper to pay for cable and internet than internet alone. Some say internet is a luxury, which it is, but it's also needed for Daniel's work.
This is all to say, we are usually pretty responsible. I budget everything down to the last penny. I save. I plan. We don't make usually stupid decisions.
So, because we did make a few poor decisions, I feel like we can't afford tithing. Two months of not paying our tithing would replenish my 'bubble'. It is SO hard for me to stop thinking about it. What's worse is that the last few months I have started to resent paying it again. I wrote out the checks each month, but gosh dang it I was angry about it.
Then conference happened... and Elder Holland gave a talk about helping the poor, helping the needy...and I instantly felt ridiculously horrible about myself.
We are in NO way poor or needy, and yet here I am being all butt-hurt saying that we can't afford tithing and we shouldn't have to pay it right now.
I have wrongly labeled myself and our situation and was acting extremely ungrateful for the continuous blessings in our lives. I am deeply ashamed of my behavior, to be quite honest.
We are so incredibly fortunate to be able to own nice things, we live in a beautiful house, Daniel has a brand new Harley, I am able to spoil Gracie and little dude (which has, admittedly slowed down since we moved to Georgia), we are able to pay all of our bills, we are able to buy as much food as we need, we are able to fill our cars with gas, with some money left over after...does that sound poor and needy to you?
We made a few poor decisions and instead of just learning from it and growing from it to make sure we don't make those kinds of mistakes again...my reaction was to get mad at the church for asking us to give tithing. I may tout about being responsible and mature but sometimes...man I am a butt-head.
Tithing is about so much more than you and your situation. Tithing isn't giving your money to the church, it's giving the money God gave you back to Him to help His children in the ways He sees fit.
I am glad we are able to help those who need it each month. I am glad we can help build temples to get His work done. I am grateful we ARE able to pay our tithing and I hope we are never ever ever in a situation where we truly can't pay tithing.
I hope that I set the example for my kids that tithing gets paid, whether you think you can afford it or not. I hope I teach them that no amount of money is worth not being able to hold a temple recommend. I really hope I set the example that you should be glad and grateful to pay your tithing, and not resentful.
I am not perfect, I make mistakes, I struggle...but boy am I grateful that my Heavenly Father is continuously sending council to get me back on track and loves me just as much. I am grateful for such a strong Priesthood holder in Daniel, who is always well rooted in what we need to be doing, especially when I am struggling.
I don't know if tithing will ever be easy for me all the time. But I can say that I had no trouble at all writing the check out this week.
Full Tithe Payer,