I was struggling to pay my student loan - $30 a month. It was an inward battle. Everything else seemed to take priority. My budget was tight, and I would put this bill at the bottom of the list of "to be paid," sometimes for a few months until it wasn't just $30 but over $100. Now I had a problem because the loan officer would start calling, and the larger amount really was a challenge for me to pay.
Sometimes I feel like the prodigal son that Jesus told about in a parable. A man's son takes what belongs to him and goes out into the world. He is popular as long as he has money to spend, but after he spends it all, a famine comes upon the area where he is and he "began to be in want" (see Luke 15:11-32).
He takes a job feeding pigs and is so hungry he is even jealous of the husks the pigs eat. This wakes him up, and he goes home, willing to be even a servant for his father, where he will be fed. The homecoming has a happy ending when the father runs to greet his son and welcomes him back, not as a servant, but as a cherished member of the family.
I like to ask myself, If someone had given the prodigal a peanut butter sandwich every day, would he have gone home as quickly as he did? Different people, including my family, tried to help me along my journey to a more mature attitude about spending. I was grateful for the lift when they would loan or give me money, but it was always a temporary solution. Ultimately, I wanted to conquer what was becoming an acceptance of a life of financial struggle to really turn to God for my every need. The sooner we know that God will take care of our needs, the sooner He will do so.
What I really needed was to mentally, prayerfully, "go home" to my divine parents, Father and Mother God, and trust that I would be guided to actions that would sustain me practically and spiritually. I wasn't confined or defined by the amount of money in my weekly paycheck. My thinking, which was as limited as my bankbook, had to expand to include a limitless inheritance - abundant love, abundant opportunities to express who I was and to meet my need. I saw that being fearless wasn't the same as being reckless in my spending habits.
I don't think you could have told me this at the time. I had to experience it for myself.
The woman who founded this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Trials teach mortals not to lean on a material staff, - a broken reed, which pierces the heart. We do not half remember this in the sunshine of joy and prosperity.... Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 66).
Every time I have a husk-eating lesson to learn, at first it seems hard and unfair. Eventually the lesson becomes clearer to me, and I'm able to embrace the challenge with some joy for the experience. A common sentiment these days is that life is about appreciating the journey, not just trying to get to a destination.
Being "in want" turned me to God. Now, God and I are on a first-name basis, and I wouldn't trade that for all the money in the world.
Let patience have
her perfect work, that ye
may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
If any of you lack wisdom,
let him ask of God,
that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him.