"While you're here, would you like us to make sure all of your account information is up to date?" the kind man said. "We try to do that at the beginning of each year."
I knew I had groceries in the car and more errands to run, but I figured the process wouldn't take long, so I said, "Sure." If only I had known what I was getting myself into.
The entire affair started off simply enough. Name. Account number. Date of birth. Phone number. E-mail address. (Most of this information, by the way, was horribly out of date. I guess I haven't done this "first of the year" process in some time.) Then, came the details of a more personal nature, as the representative was trying to see if we qualified for a home loan through their bank.
Him: "How much is your combined annual income?"
Me: "You wouldn't believe me if I told you, although you are staring at the contents of my bank account, so maybe you would believe me."
Him: "What would you say you owed in total debt, including your mortgage?"
Me: "Far more than you could ever dream, unfortunately. Please don't make me think about it."
Him: "It says here you're self-employed. What do you do?"
Me: "I'm a writer. . . I write books and blogs and stuff." (eloquent, huh?)
Him: "And where is your husband employed?"
Me: "The Clean Force Company. It's a carpet cleaning company."
Him: "Does he like it there?"
Me (growing extremely uncomfortable): "It's a job. He does what he has to do so that I can do what the Lord has called me to do." (Let's face it, how many people actually enjoy cleaning carpets?)
By this time, I felt like I needed to explain myself, our financial situation and so much more. I exploded into a discussion of past medical expenses and job losses, emergency circumstances and following the Lord's will. Though the man said nothing negative, I felt as if I were being judged. . . and sentenced--"Loser!" Instead of leaving the bank feeling happy about resolving the issue with the deposit, I instead felt discouraged and depressed. And get this, the entire event took place less than two hours after speaking to someone who expressed gratitude for the encouragement I offered each day on my blog, especially the post on doubt. Coincidence? I think not!
As I drove to my next stop, striving to hold back the tears of frustration and disappointment, I decided what I needed most was to have a little talk with Jesus. I poured out every ounce of despair and disgust at the situation I currently faced. I explained my frustration over our financial state, ready and willing to admit that I have not been as good of a steward over my finances as I should have been. I expressed my negative feelings about how I always feel I have to explain myself and the reason I work for pennies to those who I feel are wondering why I don't get a real job and pay off some debts. I talked for a long while, then when my strength was gone, I sat still and listened to hear what God would say to me.
It took a while, but all evening long, my e-mail inbox filled with letters of thanks and encouragement. Friends and readers thanking me for a particular blog post that brought comfort to them. A dear friend who is currently listening through my Names of God audio series and had to stop long enough to send me an e-mail letting me know how much she was enjoying them and that she's making a point to take notes as she listens. A fellow writer who thanked me for some recent help I'd given her and ended her e-mail by saying that she was thanking God for me all day. Gratitude. Encouragement. Pleas to keep doing what I'm doing. One right after another!
Now, you may be thinking, "That's not God speaking. That's other people." Well, yes and no. I believe God was speaking through those people, and this is what I heard. "Yes, Dana, I know it's hard, but you're right where I want you to be for the time being. I am using you in ways you can't even imagine, so don't ever doubt whether or not you're making a difference. I know the financial gains are lousy, but that's not really what this is all about, is it? You don't need to explain yourself to anyone because they don't have the right to judge. I am the Judge, and I know that you're doing the very thing I told you to do. So, don't worry about what others may think or say. Their opinions don't matter. Mine does. Continue to live out your life in a way that is pleasing to me, and I'll take care of the rest."
I heard all of that? Yes, I did, but even more importantly, I felt it. And with that answer, a great peace settled over me. I don't have to explain what I do. Good grief, I don't even understand it myself sometimes. How in the world could I possibly explain it to you? But it doesn't matter because God has reminded me that if someone has a problem with my following His will in this way, I can simply tell them to take it up with my Boss. And I'll leave the explaining to Him.
That'll show 'em to mind their own business, huh?
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. - Ephesians 6:5-8