How We THINK About Our Provision Can Help, or Hinder Life Improvement

How We THINK About Our Provision Can Help, or Hinder Life Improvement

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Mindset: This is a term you hear various life coaches, business coaches and motivational speakers to corporate North America talk about a lot. But what is it? Why would it matter to me as a Christian single mom, kids in school, trying to work, and for whom life is just generally a struggling whirlwind? Mindset is a combination of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and perspectives that shape how you interact with life around you.

One of the biggest mindset roadblocks that many Christian single moms in particular face, is the idea that because they’ve been thrust into a single-income home, life will now automatically be a struggle to survive. This roadblock tells the Christian single mom to rely on church food hampers, free clothing events, free car care events, the local government’s welfare system, government subsidies, etc. The Christian single mom often feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere, particularly if she became a single mom in a place where there isn’t much in the way of supports for divorcees, or maybe there are divorce-care groups but she gave birth out of wedlock, or perhaps her husband died in a car accident or due to terminal health problems.

Christmas banquetI attended a Christmas banquet one time shortly after my divorce had gone through, where a local non-profit had raised money among various businesses to help single mothers in the community. This was a secular group of people, but it was an opportunity to get a glimpse into the local single mother scene. I saw male-bashing all over the place and vowed I’d never go back. I did not fit into that group. I got to know another Christian single mom through the private school my kids were sponsored to attend, and she was a hair dresser. One day we had a chance to visit together and she shocked me by saying she wasn’t going to earn anymore than the bare minimum because in her opinion, the government owed her a living until her children finished school! To this day that conversation shocks me! I began occasionally seeing what was out there to support Christian single moms as they raised their kids, and discovered most of it was in the hand-out category. To this day, most of what is available for Christian single moms involves hand-outs of some kind whether it’s food, second-hand clothing, bus passes, free vehicles, etc. The head of my church’s benevolence ministry found himself shocked one day when the single mom family they gave a car to, got all huffy over the age and appearance of the car! It was a nice car! I would have been happy with it myself, but this lady was complaining about this, that, and the other thing. She accepted the car, but was very unappreciative! Eventually another church’s free clothing day was closed down due to abuse of the system they’d tried to set up and then their free car care event shut down as well, with one of the reasons being how people treated the mechanics offering their free services.

Christian single moms have been facing an ongoing storm of personal struggles, societal expectations, church expectations, as well as their own conditioning to the state they find themselves in. It has been true throughout millennia, that single moms have been looked down on in society no matter which society you look at through the centuries around the world. At the same time, single moms have been expected to keep up the provision of their kids according to societal standards particularly as we have entered modern society and a third of the world became known as ‘1st world”. The idea of living in a “civilized” society continues to have certain expectations with it that do NOT benefit the single mom, let alone the Christian single mom.

Secular single moms in the last 30 years in the Western World have often chosen to continue on to college or university and make names for themselves in a wide range of high-ranking businesses. Unfortunately, this demographic seems much lower inside the Christian sector of society for whatever reason. For some I’ve interviewed, they figure if they have their finances down, they have their life down, so they’re good. Others have said because they have a good job, they’re good. As if the only place to measure how life is going is in their financial picture. But here is where that idea falls down:

groceryshoppingRent/mortgage is still due every month. Groceries are needed every month. Gas in the car or bus passes are still needed every month. Clothing wears out and needs replacing. The electrical/heating bills are to be paid every month. The phone bill, Internet, and for some even the TV still have bills every month. Money begins disappearing before it’s even earned and the mom in her decent job begins to wonder where it’s all going. Her schedule is the answer there more often than not.

How she handles her daily routines often dictates where the money is disappearing. The drive-through on the way home, the morning coffee on the way to work, the lunch bought at the cafe down the street every day, the pizza on the way home from work. . . it all adds up! Yes the job may be good, yes the income may be good, but why is it disappearing so fast?!

There are Christian people who seriously feel bad offering second-hand clothing to others, as if it’s a slight somehow. There are Christians who feel bad for Christian single moms. But there’s the rub! This “feeling bad for” causes the Christian single mom to feel bad about herself too. Instead of empowering her to pull herself up by her bootstraps like her unsaved counterparts, many Christian single moms get the silent message they must rely on the Church and/or other hand-out mechanisms to raise their kids. Oh poor them. Life is so hard. They can barely make ends meet. At the same time, the Church at large has developed strange mindsets of it’s own around abundance vs alms-giving!

There is a book I want to buy eventually, called “When Helping Hurts”, and I read an exert a year or so ago. Today’s culture of giving inside the Church unfortunately does more to perpetrate poverty than alleviate it because it extends alms rather than empowerment. Alms by themselves in one-off situations are helpful, but when they come frequently enough for people to reach a place of relying on them, there is trouble.

Abundance isn’t always about money. My grown kids and I are rich in so many ways, and yet only enough funds on average to cover basic needs. It baffles us to laughter at times when major expenses get covered and we had no idea how it happened, but that it did and as far as we could tell, no one else was involved. Have we had to rely on alms from time to time? Yes. One of the lessons I am able to teach others as a result, is how to shop, AND how to handle what you bring home from the store or foodbank. Foodbanks haven’t always let us pick our hamper contents, so the best way to integrate veggies we wouldn’t typically grab, into part of our regular diet is to put them into an all-day soup pot and puree them at the end of the day into a soup broth to be used for lunch or dinner in the future. This is great for getting nutrition into picky eaters as well.

One tenet of abundance is to give away what you have in your hand. I have knowledge in my hand and this week it is free in my group teaching a challenge around household finances. Proverbs says there is waste in the cupboard of the poor and that is because they often don’t know a) how to make things stretch or b) how long something can last before it goes bad. This can lead to hoarding which also leads to spoilage, so learning to give of the abundance God blesses you with is extremely important, whether we are talking food in the fridge, clothes the kids grew out of, or other non-monetary blessings. When you can look in your fridge and say “we’ll never eat all of that, lets give some to someone else who could use this”, you are building an abundance mindset.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Hosea 4:6

This is part of what God is talking about. Lack of know-how includes how to use the resources God already gave you, wisely and for not only your own benefit, but the benefit of others. This lack of knowledge, or lack of sharing of such knowledge truly does do others in the Family of God a disservice! God says: 

He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
Luke 3:11

God also says:

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

. Lazy, idle hands do not deserve to eat according to Proverbs. But today’s culture of giving is producing this problem. Giving the gift of knowledge and experience is worth far more in the long run than a one-time alm.

It all starts with how you see yourself, how you see your struggle, how you see the world around you and how you see the Church’s role in helping you. When you can get past the pity party, when you can get past the victim stage, when you can move into your provider role and when you can rediscover God’s dreams for you that never died just because your parental role changed, you can develop strategies to move yourself and your family into healthier territory. You can be strategic about what you accept for free. You can be strategic about what you do and don’t spend your money on. You can be strategic with how you use your time in and away from home. Become the wise tactician in your own home.

Various coaches are talking these days about the dangers of playing small in business. There are also dangers in playing small in the home. What message are you living in front of your children when you rely more on governmental and church hand-outs than on the capacity God gave you to be a financial leader in your home? How are you raising your kids to be wise, responsible, shrewd, and strategic with the resources that come into their hands? Do they see you being wise with your time and money? Are you being wise with your time and money? Are you on top of that game or being dragged along feeling like there’s no hope for any positive change?

Positive change begins in the mind. It begins with treating yourself the way you want others treating you. It means bucking society’s view of your status in life and saying “no” to some of their hand-outs. It means teaching your kids when to say yes and when to say no to handouts as well. Free is great if it moves you toward your goal of being healthy, dressed, and financially independent. Free is bad when it keeps you stuck where you are with no glimpse of ever getting out of that pit. I can teach you how to be wise in these areas, how to be a “rebel with a cause”, and how to raise well-rounded Godly children who will make you and their teachers and employers proud of them.

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