There is a reason I have never once written about money or how to get by financially as a newly single woman. I will not be going into the details of my situation, but I will simply say this: in this current season of my life, I do not need to worry about money.
However, I have been number-crunching, and I am very, very aware that this sweet season is winding down.
And I am very, very scared. (Though I’m working on it.)
I met with a super sweet friend who helped me think through some business things and I meet with an amazing leadership coach who is helping me reconstruct pretty much everything that has to do with how I look at my ministry/business, and I am beyond grateful for the time and energy of people who care about me and how they pour into my work and life. And yet, after these kinds of things – though I feel fine while I’m in the midst of the actual meeting – afterwards, I want to cry. And I sometimes do. And I feel overwhelmed. And I am scared and sad about my future. And I feel panicky.
So, I was talking this through with a friend who, as a man, doesn’t quite understand why I seem to be slightly more terrified than excited about my future, and this is what I told him.
My experience in Christian culture as a woman has been this: though I was encouraged to go to college, and I always knew I’d go to college, and I went to college and worked pretty hard (-ish) and got my degree, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Except this: I knew I wanted to be a wife and I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but beyond that, no idea really. And I didn’t really feel like I had to know because I knew I was going to be a wife and mom. (Yes, I fit the stereotype of the girl who went to college for her M.R.S.)
So I got my degree, got married, had two babies, and did the stay-at-home mom thing. While, on the side, sort of for fun, I wrote and started speaking and fell into this little hobby of mine. And I was able to spend my time as I wanted, taking care of my home and family, and writing and speaking, and leading a ministry and going on staff at church for a stretch, and it was a sweet life.
And I did all of this, the way I wanted, taking things as seriously as I wanted or not, getting paid with money or getting paid with a plant, spending hours or minutes or no time at all on my quote-unquote work, for years and years.
Because I could.
Because I had a cushion in the form of a husband.
Because I was a girl.
(Hush…let me finish.)
I am not saying this is okay or not okay. I am not saying that I believe that was right or not right. I am saying that, whether I realized it or not back then (and I don’t think I did), I never once (even when we were just getting by as newlyweds), I never once was worried about money. Never. I didn’t have to be. I had a husband. He maybe worried, I don’t know. But I never did.
Fast forward some years. And I no longer have a husband.
And in this moment, I have a different kind of hybrid cushion, but this cushion is deflating sooner than I want to admit, though I have thankfully and finally admitted it and I’m looking my reality full in the face.
So I said to my friend that I think men are hard-wired to know that it all falls to them. I am not saying this is good or bad, I’m just saying. (For the love.) Men know that they will get jobs and have to support themselves from day one. Women, again – just saying, don’t necessarily know that. At least, I didn’t know that. I didn’t have to know that. That was not my experience. I have always been taken care of. (I hate this post.)
But up til soon-ish – as a 43-year-old woman – I have never once had it all fall to me. I have never once worried that I had to take care of myself financially. (I already know: I’m a princess. Please do not write me that.) And I still don’t; but that time is coming.
John Eldredge is one of my favorite authors and part of what he talks about is his theory (that I completely resonate with) that men and women are each born with questions that we spend our lives trying to get answered.
For men it’s do I have what it takes?
For women it’s am I beautiful? and am I worth fighting for?
I’ve spent my life searching for the answers to my female-specific questions, and unfortunately, I have believed lies.
But I just realized that I have written in my journal time and again recently the following fear: I don’t think I have what it takes to take care of myself.
And it just hit me. That is the man question, the man fear, the man issue. Because of my singleness, because I am partner-less, because for the first time in my life it is all about to fall to me, I am – in a sense – having to be the man. I am having to ask myself the wrong gender’s question.
NO WONDER I AM OVERWHELMED.
NO WONDER I FEEL SO UNCOMFORTABLE.
NO WONDER I’M EXPERIENCING SWIRLY PANIC.
NO WONDER I’M SCARED.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I believe I was created for partnership. I believe that men and women are created equally but differently. I believe I was not hard-wired to have to sit with this question and bear this burden on my own and so therefore I am, of course, living in discomfort right now. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
And so here I am having to rethink decades of one way of looking at life and I am having to face new fears, fears I’ve never had to face before and therefore almost don’t know how – the biggest ones being that I do not have what it takes to take care of myself and that I may, sooner than I wish, have to give up my dream of helping women for the rest of my life through my writing and speaking – and this makes me so sad to even contemplate, I can’t even tell you.
But I’m working on it. I’m working on all of it. And I’ve talked about all that I’m trying to do. And I’m not ready to give up yet. But that’s not what this is about.
Today is about my fear. And it’s about my sadness. And it’s about questions. And it’s about me hoping I can keep doing something I love but really thinking I might not be able to anymore sometime soon. And it’s about the unknowns. And the future. And it’s about choices, and how back then, I didn’t have to worry about money, but other things were really not good. And now there is relational calm at every turn, but I’m scared about finances. And how life is sometimes hard. And how I know that I know that I know that I’m blessed.
But everything is so blurry right now. And I hate blurry things. (I’m crying right now as I write this.) And I have a feeling you might hate blurry things too. And I have a feeling, you sweet woman, might be bearing this burden too, in ways I’ll never even understand.
And so I pick up the rock from the beach that says that it’s all going to be okay, as it sits right next to my laptop day in and day out, and I shake it in my hand and hold onto it and rub it (rubbing the words off, I’m afraid) and pray that those words will sink down deep into my soul one of these times.
And I will wait.
And I will hope.
And I will ask myself the uncomfortable questions – even if they are the not-right-for-me questions – because this is my current lot.
And will keep toiling at my dream until I just can’t toil anymore.
And I will keep walking…..because my soul knows and trusts beyond anything else in this life that I cannot predict or see…..that our God is faithful and he loves me.
If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women and bring them hope, click here for more information.
Thanks for saying what I have been thinking.(((HUGS)))
Janet, thank you for reading and commenting! -Elisabeth
I think this may be one of the scariest things I’ve dealt with. I was never able to be a full-time stay at home mom/wife, but I didn’t have the burden of heavy responsibility either … there was a partner and a cushion in finances. It is so hard to admit that my time is truly not my own. =( .
And yet, I am a witness of how God has supplied in ways unconventional and unpredictable. I love your mantra that you will be okay – He’s got a plan. He’s going to take care of you. I never made income my first priority, only wanted to provide for my children, to live with peace (for me this means little or no debt) and to honor the Lord with my finances. It is possible!
Best wishes. I can imagine many ways the Lord would provide, even if you take a supplemental “job” to cushion the coffers for a time. He can provide one that allows great freedom and influence.
Thank you for the encouragement, Missy! -Elisabeth
Yes. This is what terrifies me. I was the same way, taken care of, although doing my share in a different manner. Now, I’m on my own. I have to budget, I have to think about the future.
It’s been 2 years since the divorce, almost 3 since he left. Now, I’m pondering opening up my own business with 2 partners. I’m scared to death, but I really want to try it.
Thanks for your insights.
Jody, I would love to see you absolutely go for it! Keep me posted! -Elisabeth
I think that all of us…..if we’re honest….are at this place you have described. The fear of the future without any financial support will suffocate you. But FEAR is NOT of God!! That is a tool from the enemy’s arsenal. Fear has opporated in my life as a stronghold of the enemy, and GOD has OVERCOME this!!! So I am fighting from the place of victory – not trying to be victorious. Yes, we all have bills to pay. We all suffer the consequences of wrong choices. BUT GOD knows our needs and has promised to provide!! I rest in that promise. It may mean that we won’t have the material things we once had. We may have to live without cable for a time (that’s not a bad thing!) and drive used cars and wear clothes from the thrift store, but we will be ALIVE in a new and precious way!! We will be living a life of fulfillment in service to our precious Savior!!! Life may look different – a smaller home, no fancy restaurant dinners, no movie once a week…..whatever it looks like….if we seek wise council and mangage the resources God has blessed us with, God will provide our needs. Not wants. Needs. And HIS plan is ALWAYS the BEST PLAN!!! In Jesus’ name, and by the power and authority of His blood, fear NO LONGER has a place in my life!! Praying that you will walk in victory knowing that GOD has already made a way for you and your children!
Thank you, Kim, for the reminder that fear is not of God. Needed that! -Elisabeth
I struggle with all this too. I was a SAHM for many, many years. I worked early on in our marriage and put him through grad school and then got pregnant with our oldest daughter. I had been working full-time and going to school and something had to give so I put my education on the back burner. But I never really worried about not having that piece of paper until now. I was happy to be home with the children. He provided a comfortable living for us. Then the divorce happened and I found myself back in the working world. Although I didn’t finish my degree I found a great job, one that has wonderful benefits and would be enough to take care of just me if necessary when the time comes. I do receive child support on my two youngest (they are 8 and 13) and alimony for five years. Some days I get frustrated as I feel like this time of getting alimony is so limited and I’m still paying my attorney off from the divorce. But I have learned that living with less is actually very freeing. I try not to borrow tomorrow’s worry when really there may be no worry at all. I’ve downsized to a 3 bedroom apartment (in a lovely community!) and the maintenance free living has been just what I needed during this time. My attorney negotiated that he take all the debt (mostly because he incurred it anyway) so really, my expenses are pretty minimal. I just keep trusting that God has a plan and everything will work out. I’m not trying to be all Pollyanna-ish, I have just found that if I trust HIM, everything seems to fall into place.
Kim…such a good reminder to not borrow tomorrow’s worry. Thank you! -Elisabeth
Okay, so God is the King and you are His daughter. That is the only reason you are a princess.
You were taken care financially, but you nurtured and cared for you family in a different way. And it was good.
It is very interesting what you are saying about having to provide being a man’s question. I agree that men are designed to be providers. Women are designed to be nurturers. This is not to say that men cannot nurture and that women cannot provide. They each can. The issue is what our core design is.
You have been nurturing your family and other women through your work and ministry and you want to be able to continue doing that. I hope that your business takes off and you can continue this as your income. If not, you will find work where you can still follow your calling, even if it doesn’t look like what you thought it would. God’s plan is always the best and always allows us to express what we were created to be. So you are right, you are going to be okay.
Thank you for the encouragement, Cynthia. It means so much to me. -Elisabeth
Thank you Elisabeth.
For being real.
Crying… nodding in agreement and once again confirming that my soon to be ex never took that seriously…and how that hurt so deeply.
And now it falls to me.
And I fall to my knees at my Father’s feet- as He wraps His arms around me and assures me He will give me strength and stamina and wisdom and protection.
I need to write on a rock.
Trembling but taken care of….
Ahh, Jen…”trembling but taken care of”…so good and true. That’s faith right there, isn’t it? -Elisabeth
You are so, so loved, Elisabeth. I wish I could wrap my arms around you. So many of your thoughts in this post resonate with me ( I could sob!). My prayer for you is that the Lord Jesus will meet you in your pain. My prayer for you is that His love, His arms and His joy will wrap around you in ways that will touch your life like never before. I believe that it will all work for your good in the end. I believe that it shall be well with you ( Isaiah 3:10).So may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you, may the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
I will keep on praying for you.
Ganise, thank you for these kind, kind words and prayers over me. This means the world to me. -Elisabeth
I totally get it!! Things are blurry…I don’t like blurry. The control freak in me is going off the deep end with worry. I know God is faithful and He has blessed me with provisions far beyond my dreams. I must keep tunnel vision on Him to see me through these “blurry” seasons!
Thank you for your honesty and encouragement!! God bless!!