Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tithing and Gratitude

I'm pretty sure we've all heard faith-building stories about someone who paid their tithing and had an unexpected check show up in the mail for the exact amount they needed to cover their bills. I know I've heard these stories, and though I don't doubt that they are true, I sometimes find myself questioning this motivation for paying tithing. I've heard tithing referred to as "fire insurance" with the intended double meaning that not only does paying our tithing help to secure our eternal estate, but it also gets us blessings in this life. I hate the Relief Society lesson on paying tithing because I always leave feeling like people only pay their tithing in order to get the associated rewards.

For all these reasons, I find it difficult and somewhat hypocritical to be writing the post I am writing, because I am about to share my testimony of how paying tithing has truly benefited our family in this life. I think I finally understand that the stories I've heard were intended to be stories of gratitude to our Father in Heaven, not merely proof of the cause and effect nature of being a full tithe payer. So with newfound perspective, I send out a mass apology to the grateful members of the church whose stories I have simply misunderstood, and I add my own.

Last year, I very carefully paid our tithing each month at the beginning of the month. However, as August neared, I noticed that if I paid the tithing, there wouldn't be enough to cover our bills. I decided to pay the bills first and catch up on tithing the next month. The next month, not only did I not have enough to catch up, I found I did not have enough to pay September's tithing, either. This continued until I was a full four months behind. At my wit's end, I finally decided to use money from a savings account that was strictly not to be touched. I did not know what else to do, but I knew that our tithing must be paid.

Out of obedience to the laws our Heavenly Father has set, I paid the tithing in full, not knowing how I would replace the essential money in the savings account. I fully intended to suffer the consequences later, and I can't say that anything has changed. The money had been carefully set aside in case Kirk changed jobs and we would need to pay back the tuition reimbursement awarded him by ATK. We now stand in precisely that position, and the saved money has been used.

However, I have found that every time I go to pay a bill, we have sufficient funds in the account. I was recently inspired to organize our bills in a different manner and pay them according to a slightly altered schedule. This has resulted in a little more breathing room in our budget. Yesterday, the account manager of our debt management plan at Real Wealth Financial called to say he'd been reviewing our file and that he thinks he may be able to save us some money on our mortgage. I have also been inspired to start an after school show choir at the school where I teach which will provide us with some extra income. And yes, an unexpected check actually did come in the mail.

Alone, none of these events would seem extraordinary, but combined, I clearly see the Lord's hand in our financial affairs. He has seen our need, and because of our obedience He is guiding our decisions. I am humbled and grateful to be the recipient of the Lord's love and blessings, and I feel blessed to have received such a strong testimony of tithing.


Kris said...

Wonderful story and thanks for your testimony. I, too, did not like lessons on tithing because I felt similiar to you at times. However, a few years back, I had a bishop explain tithing to me and how it's more about obedience than the $$. He talked with me about how often times we will be blessed in this life (and the next) because of our obedience and that those blessings will not always be monetarily. My family as well as Christopher and I have been recipients of the Lords blessings because of our obedience. It's great to know that we have a Father In Heaven who loves and cares for us so deeply. Thanks again for sharing your testimony and thoughts on the matter.