This morning’s post was written by Kimberly from Joyful Momma. She has been married for 17 years to her dear husband, and enjoys the adventure of mothering five amazing children, ages 16 down to 10. They home school their children, which has been a blessing for the entire family as they walk out this lifestyle of learning.
No matter what the pundits and politicians have to say, the economy is a challenge for most of us normal families out here in the real world, and in some parts it seems to be getting even more challenging. As helpers suitable for our husbands, how can we, as godly wives, encourage our men when they are feeling down about their job situations and money issues?
About ten years ago, my husband hit his peak of his earnings, and suddenly, a few years later, our income was slashed to one third of what he was used to earning. It’s difficult when you have been used to one wage for a long time to suddenly get used to a significantly smaller one, especially when you have a growing family, a house that you were about to renovate, and other responsibilities. That season was (and continues to be) a difficult time in my life, but it was even harder on my husband.
Many men feel their sense of self worth and accomplishment tied into their ability to support their family, whether they realize it or not. Over the years of dealing with this lowered income (we are now “up to” about half of what he used to make, though cost of living has gone up significantly), I’ve learned things that I’ve been able to share with other ladies about how to encourage a discouraged husband in a bad economy.
Obviously, prayer is the first, big area in which we can help our discouraged guys, however we need to be careful that we pray properly. Don’t just ask God to remove the hardship. Instead ask Him to work through this situation to grow the entire family in their faith and to bring them closer to Him. Through our difficulties, we have seen the whole family grow in their faith more. Sometimes it can sound really cliche to say that “God is my provider,” however when you have to ask Him for your daily bread and wait for Him to provide it, this goes from cliche to reality in our lives. Each of my children knows for certain that God is their true provider, and we have each learned to trust God more and more in the little, every day things.
We also need to pray that our husbands will grow in their faith, will look more to the Lord, and not be discouraged in their circumstances. Many of us ladies, at one time or another, have prayed to the Lord, asking Him to change our husbands. This situation could very well be an answer to that prayer, a situation that God uses to get their attention. A good friend of mine always says that submission is just ducking so God has a clean shot at him, and in this regard, we also need to pray for wisdom to know what he needs in the way of practical help from us.
2. Encourage Him with the Word
When I asked my husband what is one thing that I do that encourages him in this situation, he said that me sending text messages with a Bible verse really blesses him. Before we had an unlimited texting plan, I would write out Bible verses for him and stick them in his tool box or in the pocket of his work pants.
This is not to preach at him, I must emphasize. We have to let the Holy Spirit work on His own. However, we can share verses from our quiet times that encouraged us and may encourage him as well.
3. Cutting the Budget without Being a Martyr
My husband also noted that the fact that I am frugal without being a martyr about it really is a true, practical help to him. I feel as though I fail so often in this area. I get stressed out too about the economy and thinking about the fact that, despite being in our forties, we barely have anything saved for the future. Still, when I make a meal based on more frugal ingredients, I work hard to make sure that it doesn’t seem like we are eating “cheap food.” You can serve rice and beans on a paper plate or you can make an elegant meal using rice and beans as the main ingredients. Even if you had to cut your grocery budget way back, you don’t have to act like you are suffering any severe lack, and remind everyone of the financial woes in your family with every meal.
(I wrote an ebook on saving money at the grocery store for large families, which I have at my website. Enter this coupon code: WELL2009 at checkout for 33% off of your order at my site until October 22nd.)
4. Encourage Entrepreneurial Skills for Older Children
Since my children have grown up into teenagers, I’ve discovered what other moms and dads before me have meant about the cost of various activities for teens. As the children have grown, this has added some pressure to my husband who was feeling down about not being able to allow our children to even play putt putt because of financial issues. Our family, most of the time, doesn’t even participate in many activities because of cost, however we’ve prayerfully felt that some activities are good to get involved in as they start to branch out and stretch their wings as they grow. To offset the cost of these sorts of activities, we have encouraged each of our five children to seek out entrepreneurial income through the skills that God has given them, as well as seeking out free activity alternatives. We’ve also taught them about prayerful, wise generosity, and have been doubly blessed to see their giving spirit with their own money (and, consequently, God’s hand of blessing and provision).
We’ve noticed that since they save their own money towards some of the youth group outings, they are more selective about what they attend and don’t attend, and they have learned faster about the value of a dollar. My husband and I have used what started out as a hard situation (a drop in income) to become something positive for the kids by helping them to learn about money and earning money for the extras that they want (but don’t necessarily need). We have also been reinforcing the idea that God alone is our ultimate provider. Our job is to work diligently and to serve Him, and He provides the increase. Our children have been excited to watch God provide in amazing ways as they apply this principle.
5. Guard Your Own Heart Regarding Contentment
Most importantly, we as wives need to guard our own hearts regarding contentment. It’s too easy to become bogged down with the weight of the world when we think about things that are in “tomorrow” (college costs, retirement, how are we going to pay our heating bill this winter, and so on), while missing out on the blessings of serving the Lord, being a helper to our husbands, and mother to our children in the here and now. We can’t control the future, and our anxiety isn’t going to make the situation better…it’s only going to sap today of its joy and strength.
This past week (I’m convicted as I write this), I was stressed out when I looked at our bank statement and realized that four times we came without 5 cents of bouncing checks this past month, and we were being as tight as possible. My hubby reminded me I needed to be thankful that God provided within five cents of our needs at least four times this month. I started running down the list of things that cause me anxiety: the scant retirement funds, the lack of college savings for our children, the fact that last winter our heating bill was more than our mortgage some months, and so on, and I was in full panic attack mode. This only stressed my husband out more, and made his hard day worse, and left us both full of worry and doubt, until God again miraculously provided for an upcoming need within hours of my pity party. My worry didn’t fix anything. All worry did was rob me of a few hours in which I could have been doing something productive.
My dear friend Tamie always has said to me, “Kimberly, fear is a cruel taskmaster. Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow.”
Join me on Thursdays when I share one of the At The Well – Pursuing Titus 2 devotionals that has made an impact on my daily walk with the Lord as a mother and wife.