Friday, August 17, 2012

Move in together? Here's why I say no.

I don't think people should live together before they get married. Yes, my first reason is because of my faith, but after that comes a slew of statistics about why living together before marriage really isn't the great idea we're lead to believe it is.

A recent example from my life: I've been staying with various friends since I had a bed bug scare, and one of them told me the futon on her porch was already made up because a friend had gone through a bad breakup and needed a place to stay. I found out that I knew this friend, and it's the sort of thing where they really should have broken up a few years ago, but it wasn't financially possible because at the time one of them was a freelancer and wasn't making a lot of money. She stayed in a relationship largely because she couldn't move out.

People will make whatever choices they want, and that's their right. Someone I care a lot about recently made the decision to move in with the significant other, and I'm not happy about it. I still love that person and won't behave any differently, but it makes me sad that people don't know the facts. Moving in will not fix a relationship. It won't change the problems. And the statistics show that it's not beneficial in the long run (higher chance of domestic abuse, less satisfaction sexually, among other things).

Maybe you're not religious at all. I don't expect the fact that it's not God's ideal to mean anything to you if you don't follow God. I would just say to do some research. Check out some studies and educate yourself. Popular society (media, especially) is wrong.

(I'm not looking at any stats as I write this, but I've seen them footnoted in a book I read recently. If you're interested in more info, I can dig out the book and look up the info.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

God's Math

I grew up tithing all the money I got. When I was little and got 50 cents for an allowance, a nickel went into my Sunday School offering. Tithing was just something you did, no questions asked. Christmas money, allowance, job money, whatever it was, 10% went to church. When I got to college, I stopped having steady income. I didn't work my first few semesters of college, and I didn't have a church home. So the tithing stopped.

I started tithing again after college. I actually hadn't found a church yet, but I was out of a job and money was tight, and I just remembered all I had been taught about money and how it was God's in the first place, so I gave to various charities. Once I found Substance (my current church which I love dearly), I began tithing there. One summer we had a sermon series call The Blessed Life, and I felt like 10% was great, but that was a baseline, and I wanted to do more than the minimum, so I upped my regular giving.

Money is something that can bring up all sorts of feelings in people. Talking about it in church can be really uncomfortable. It's rather taboo to talk about how much money you make, or to mention how much something expensive cost (totally OK to talk about what a bargain you scored, though). I most often refer to money in a "I'm broke until my next paycheck" sort of way.

Over the past few years, I've have ups and downs financially. I've tried to budget, I've saved money, I've spent money. I actually gave up on a formal budget because I could never make the numbers work. I'm moving at the end of the month, and as I was searching for an apartment, I was worried about money. My car broke down, and I had to spend some money to get it fixed. I didn't have enough money saved to for a deposit, but I had to find a place to live. I looked at my income, I looked at when bills were due, and I just couldn't figure out how I would have enough to pay for a deposit. The week I put my cash savings into my checking account so I could send in my deposit I was entirely unsure how I was going to pay for food and gas the next few weeks. But I trusted God. I did my best not to worry, and I read passages in the Bible like Matthew 6 where Jesus talks about not worrying because God knows our needs and cares about us.

Money is still tight. I don't make a lot of money, and I have a small amount of debt that's taking me awhile to pay off (student loans and hospital bills). But it works out. I re-looked at my bill due dates and when my paydays were, and it worked. As of this blog I have around 50 cents in my checking account, and I will get paid tomorrow and be able to pay all the bills that are due. At Substance we talk about how tithing is the believe that when we give God 10%, he enables us to do more with 90% than we would have been able to do with all 100%. I thought about not tithing even one paycheck, because that would have really eased the strain. But I held fast to the promise that God knows my needs. I honestly can't explain how it all worked out. I'm really good at math, so it's not like I added things wrong the first time. I didn't suddenly receive money from a relative or friend. It just worked out.

Today Pastor Bart shared about how there is a difference between head knowledge and experiential knowledge. You can know in your head that God provides, but when you start to experience it you gain confidence. I have been through bouts of unemployment. I have had car repairs pop up. I have given large sums of money away outside of my regular giving. And God has always provided. When my car broke down and God provided someone to fix it, that gave me confidence that he would also provide a great apartment in my price range. And the apartment I found is actually less per month than what I've been paying, and the apartment is bigger.

There are some things I just can't explain. All I know is that God really does provide.