It's almost Easter and it's almost tax day April 15th (well, actually it's the 18th this year.) My husband and I just finished preparing our taxes and we're entering into Holy Week so I started thinking about money and the spiritual life.
If you really think about it, spending time collecting financial records and receipts really is an invitation to ask yourself some tough questions that can lead to an internal dialogue between you and God. Questions that have so much to do with the issues we often talk about in my retreats; self-acceptance, worthiness, trust, and surrender. Since this Lenten season my practices and reading are centering around trusting God in the areas I don't want to trust God, I've had a lot of questions on my mind.
Let's face it. Money is an uncomfortable topic. Henri J.M. Nouwen in The Spirituality of Fundraising says, "The reason for the taboo is that money has something to do with that intimate place in our heart where we need security, and we do not want to reveal our need or give away our security..."
My sister, Kim Gaxiola of TechGirl Financial, is a financial consultant and even though we are in two totally different fields, we often talk about how related they can be. How you spend your money can have a lot to do with where you're at personally and spiritually. When she talks to her clients she always asks them first about what they value in life. She says, "Your relationship with money is part of a bigger picture of what you value. The question is, what do you value and are you having that conversation with yourself? What do you value and does your spending reflect that?"
Let me first say, I'm not an expert in this area. (My sister was the economics major and the financially savvy one in the family!) When I go through anxious times or feel like I'm losing control of a situation, my go-to is spending money on things that can fix, organize, and package as a way of helping me feel like I can control something. But I am good with questions (I was the journalism major!) and so I want to offer some helpful reflection questions on values, self-worth, and trust as we enter into Holy Week.
Spending and Self-Image
- Isn't it interesting that the phrase "personal worth" can mean both the extent of our financial assets and our value as a human being? How does having, or not having, money affect your self-esteem, or sense of value?
Saving and Trust in God
- Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 How do you feel when you read this verse? Trusting? Challenged? How is it speaking to you today?
Spending, giving, and Stewardship
- Several years ago I was the stewardship chair at my parish and decided to look through my old files. One of the flyers we passed out from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reads, "As Christian stewards, we receive God's gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord." How much do you practice gratitude? What does Christian stewardship mean to you?
My relationship with money is always evolving, just as my trust in God grows. Accepting myself for all that I am and all that I'm not, learning to surrender, practicing gratitude, and trusting God in the areas that are challenging for me, all help me slowly into a better Christian steward. Years ago, my parish read this prayer together every Sunday. It was such a blessing to have these questions and the call to stewardship at the forefront of my mind every week. It was such a gift to find it again and pray through it. I invite you to take a moment and reflect.
O Merciful God,
You are the provider of all that we are
and all that we have.
You open wide your hand to provide for the needs of every living creature.
Make us always grateful for your loving mercy
and grant that we may be faithful stewards of your gifts;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who, with You and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever.
May your Easter season be a time of new life that brings a renewed sense of self-worth grounded in God's love. May that self-acceptance bring a renewed sense of trust that God truly is the provider of all that we are and all that we have. Wishing you a reflective tax season... and more importantly... A blessed Holy Week and then Happy Easter.
What do you think of the above questions? Did something here resonate with you?
Is it hard for you to work on trusting God when it comes to finances?