I've been thinking a lot lately about humility.
Mostly because I have discovered how much of a blessing it is to me.
My heart is so much more tender lately...and it's not just spiritual things that are touching me.
It's just that I FEEL so much more.
Once we started budgeting, it became crystal clear that our money just doesn't stretch as far as we had been assuming it did.
CRYSTALLY, TRANSPARENTLY CLEAR.
For me, I have always vowed, (with a heartfelt, "I'll DIE first" vow), that I would never give ANYONE reason to think that we can not provide for every single one of our children adequately, and completely.
There are a lot of reasons for such a strong vow, but ultimately, what it did was create pride in my heart.
Pride because I COULD provide EVERYTHING for my children.
Even if it meant nothing was getting saved for that emergency just around the corner.
I truly believed that we needed to be moving forward to get out of debt, but it was a difficult job.
Not because we were racking up uncontrollable debt, but because sometimes, our wants were made into our needs.
Movie in the theater? Sure. We've got "extra".
Let's take our kids out to eat. They've helped so much around the house, and they are just GOOD kids.
Let's take that trip to the temple (and go shopping in the process because we only get to the "city" every 3 or 4 months). Surely the Lord will bless us for being faithful, so let's not worry that it costs $150 round trip just to get over there!
Some would argue that these are needs on some level...and I would have agreed with you 3 months ago, but you know what?
My kids are just as happy here, watching a video, WITH treats, spending more quality time with us than being hauled out to a theater where no one can pile under a blanket or cuddle together.
It just takes a little more planning to make a special dinner here, and all of us are more relaxed and talk more easily at home.
As important as temple attendance is, the (financial) windows of heaven are not promised to open if we attend on a specific schedule. In fact, there are many people who are only able to attend once or twice in their lives due to the financial burden it poses to them.
(Lest I be misunderstood on that one, I KNOW that spiritual blessing await us for temple attendance, and I feel INCREDIBLY strongly that you need to make EVERY effort possible to attend the temple as often as possible. Just don't go into debt to do it. If it means going without steak and ice cream, or not doing other things to save up to attend, DO IT, and attend the temple with a clear conscience, knowing your trip has already been paid for.)
Truly, the most humbling thing for me was asking for help with school suppplies.
It sounds too simple.
Not hard at all.
But it was horribly difficult for me.
At Enrichment Night, Emily's teacher was there, and I went up and started talking to her about the new school year.
I mentioned that I would be sending things like ziploc bags, Kleenex and hand soap at a later date, due to the tight budget.
It just so happened that the middle school secretary was also there and overheard my conversation with Sister (Mrs.) Thompson.
So, the secretary asked, "Do you need help with school supplies? If you do, I would be happy to help you."
I stood there, my mind racing, very unsure of how to respond.
Yes, we needed help.
Our supply lists are LONG, and I had a VERY limited budget to buy 4 kiddos school supplies.
But, I didn't want to admit we really did need help.
Because that might be interpeted as me not providing for my family.
And I would DIE before I let someone think that.
So, I gulped, and quietly said,
"That would be wonderful. If you could help Stephen (the middle schooler)...that would be great."
Her response? "Do you need help with the other kid's supplies too?"
Not only do I have to be a little humble, but now I to be REALLY humble.
So, I said,
"I'll look over their lists and let you know when we come in to pick up Stephen's schedule on Thursday."
I knew we needed some supplies for them too, but HEY, old habits die hard!
And you know what, I did take their lists in on Thursday, and she did help us out tremendously!
If I had known what spiritual blessings would be waiting, I might have been more willing to accept the help.
It really did take a leap of faith to let go, but amazingly, I feel more honest, more real than I have felt in a really long time.
And I really value living with integrity and being who I profess to be.
Truly, the tool for these changes was knowledge...on how to control our finances.
And for that, I am truly, eternally grateful, not just for the knowledge that has changed us temporally, but for the actions I have made based on that knowledge that have changed me spiritually.