I am a Christian, Husband, Father, and of course a Man.
I started out as simply a Man (boy, really, as I became a Christian as a child). Then, all I had to worry about was myself. School, homework, sports, and girls were the greatest of my concerns. Life wasn’t all that complicated unless I got on the bad side of my parents. Considering I was a frustrating child, that happened quite a bit.
When I became a Christian, things began to get a bit more complex. I became a Christian in my teens. Though attending church for years before, it was my experience in church that convinced me of God’s existence. Since I know no other religion, Christianity became my guide to God. It is through Jesus’ teachings that I began to truly understand what it mean to be human.
I married the most amazing woman in 2007. Her faith far exceeded my own. At the time, I considered faith to be that warm fuzziness you feel when surrounded by happiness. I was completely shocked when I realized that faith had real life applications. Here’s a moment from our early marriage that stands out in my mind of my wife’s faith:
We left the house to the bookstore. It’s December 23rd, and I still haven’t bought my brother the sci-fi book he wanted. No biggy. It just came out a week ago, so there’s no way Borders could be out. Shockingly, not only is Borders sold out of this book, but so is Barns and Noble and Waldenbooks. I’m sure there’s other, smaller bookstores, but it’s late and I don’t know what to do.
Grace (my wife) suggests we go to the University of Oregon bookstore. Thinking this rather stupid—it is a college bookstore, after all—I humored her and we went. Before we got out of the car, she stopped us and said, “We haven’t prayed about this!” Again, humoring her, I let her pray. Cranky and upset, I led her into the bookstore.
There on the bottom row of the first bookshelf was the book I had spent the day looking for. Not that God needed to show me up, but the sun picked that moment to peak out from behind the clouds, through the window, and on that book.
So being a husband taught me a great deal about faith, if for no other reason than I get to see daily how someone else interacts with God. Over time, my wife and I began making more and more money, putting away retirement, buying a house, paying off my wife’s student loans, and me beginning seminary.
As a father, things have gotten even more complicated. Whereas before marriage I only had to worry about providing for myself, and the addition of my wife’s income made our marriage a bit easier, now I had someone demanding food, shelter, clothing, diapers, and more without offering anything in return. It’s funny how an increase in income always seems accompanied by an increase in bills. Go figure, right?
Well, the last two years have seen our income slowly going backwards. I left a stressful job for a better one, but the cost was my wages. At the time, we could afford it as the loss wasn’t so big. After that change, my son was born. This time the increase in bills was not being offset by an increase in income. Still, we were making it, putting away a retirement, paying for expenses and the like.
This past summer, I lost the extra income that supplemented our day jobs: I am no longer a youth pastor. It’s a complex situation involving driving an hour each way to church. Suffice it to say, it was no longer possible to meet my duties.
So now, my wife and I are having to cut back our budget because our income can no longer meet the expenses. It’s a strange feeling, especially in modern Christianity’s prosperity gospel mindset, which essentially says that if you pray hard enough, trust hard enough, and have enough faith, God will provide for you. It’s an exciting time, because I get to see what’s going to happen. It’s a fearful time, because I have no idea if God will follow through or not. My hope is that he will. My fear is that my faith simply isn’t good enough.