This past Sunday, the guy who was going to tell the sacred season of stewardship testimony called "Let's Talk About Money" couldn't make it. He had an excellent excuse but the text came a few minutes before worship began. His name was also printed in the bulletin. A few years ago, my borderline type "A" self might have lost her cool. Not at anyone specifically, just lost my cool. Not this time. This time, I decided to do the testimony, myself.
With the help of a few others, we designed our two month sacred season of stewardship. It began at the beginning of September. I came up with the theme for the testimonies called "Let's Talk About Money." The month of September was meant to be a pre-game sacred season of stewardship. The "games" really begin in October when we intentionally invite, ask and give. The season really begins when we engage finances... Radically. Faithfully. Whole-heartily.
This month, though, I wanted all of us to get really comfortable with talking about money. Personal finances. Monetary giving. Communal finances. Institutional budgets.
Here's the funny thing.
I don't actually really love talking about money. I probably hate talking about it more than other taboo topics like politics, sex and religion. Spirit might have had another thing in mind when she pushed into the circle on Sunday and said, okay, go ahead, give a testimony...about money. Your money. Your feelings about money. And, if you are really risky...consider how God is working in all that mess. Oh, and do it without any preparation. So, I did.
I said something like: Roger (my husband) and I sat on the couch in our living room on Friday. The kids at school. The house was empty. We decided to chat (or really grapple) with the idea of chronic anxiety and Family Systems Theory. Teenagers will do that to you. We have been humbled in many ways these past few months with the teenage angst all around. We wanted to ask the question of where the chronic anxiety in our family system might be coming from, instead of blaming one or two of our kids? The answer we got was money. (at least for now) My father was born and raised in rural Italy with little resources. He spent his entire adulthood making sure that under all circumstances he would be financially secure. His trauma turned into generational trauma. The trauma of insecurity is devastating and lasting. I don't want to talk for Roger, but this is the story I bring to our family system. As we continued our conversation it led into giving, generosity and stewardship. We decided with my pay cut, that I would give 5% of my salary base (not full package) towards the BFCC 2019 budget. My hope was to soon give 10%. This would be a big deal for us and a faith claim for me.
Then, I took some deep breaths. Giving away my money is the opposite of security. The chemical effects in my father's DNA produced by his traumatic life experiences around war and poverty had been passed down. This pattern is known as epigenetic or generational trauma. Holding onto security is in my bones, making this faith claim is counter to every cell in my body. I took more deep breathes. These breathes signs of prayer. Giving away my money is the same as faith.
"Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Mark 10:21
Maybe I wanted us all to get comfortable talking about money, because I needed to get more comfortable and honest about talking about money. Maybe, I needed to do it, and I needed to be unprepared. Isn't that when God works...moments not predicted.
Another article that might be helpful as you consider the sacred season of stewardship: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/28/smarter-living/how-to-talk-about-money.html.