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Monday, July 13, 2009

Lessons in Anger & Prayer

A personal admission: I detest working on household finance. It is a world of mystery, intrigue and sabotage. More than once I have admitted that I am powerless over this stressing task and that my situation has become unmanageable. I blame this more or less on the fact that my father never taught me how to balance a checkbook before I went off to college. I realize that this is a lame excuse, but an excuse nonetheless. Efforts of trying to correct course and right the ship are usually met with many good intentions and poor follow through, however I am a work in progress and God loves me enough to send me back to the classroom of humility time and time again.

One such excursion was last week. Having reached a point of powerlessness and unmanageability once again, I turned to an expert in the field: a financial planner who, I assume, among other things, will help me to arrive at a financial plan and keep us on track with our elusive family budget. This is not the first time I have thrown up my hands in despair, but I am certainly hoping it will be the last. Ellen is a lovely woman. She is no-nonsense, direct, conservative, traditional and BORING (and I mean that in a respectful and good way). She does things with paper and pencil and refers often to her own former spending foibles. She is also on to my husband's Tommy Bahama habit, so this means that I like her a lot. I don't know if I buy her "seeing that extra money in the savings account is more fun than taking that Rome vacation" line however I am willing to delay my gratification in order to give her the benefit of the doubt.
So why do I quote anger at the top of this entry? BECAUSE I spent the better part of Friday and Saturday following Ellen's directions. Adding entries to her splendid spreadsheets, copiously compiling additional supportive dollar signs and bearing my financial soul to a complete stranger only to lose it amongst my 50,000 directories on my hard drive. It was nowhere to be found. The irony is that I have MANY folders and files named "finance", "budget", "expenditures": these are the wreckage of my past endeavors to reign in the family spending machine. They reside gleefully in my hard drive sort of like artifacts from a sunken treasure ship at the bottom of the deep blue sea. But, ya think I could find the priceless pearl that was only created a day ago? Nada. It is lost. Hopelessly missing. Gonesville.

The 'losing of things' usually sends me to a bad mood rather quickly. In this case, it was my brain sending a signal to my gut via a conduit of adrenaline that the problem will be solved by throwing said pc out of nearby window. By some grace, I was spared this urge and alternatively was reduced to sobbing and utterances of the word "why...". This episode illicited a reaction from my 12 year old. He is a brave boy. He actually entered the (den of fools) office and chanced to offer some consolation.

"Mom, what's wrong?"

Thru tears..."missing...can't find...all that work...gone".

Putting his arm around my shoulder...."Mom...", asks Jake, "Did you pray?"
The dark side of me offers a 1 minute subconscious rebuttal...

"What did he mean, did I pray? Of COURSE I did not pray. I mean, c'mon. I am in the midst of my drama. What could praying possibly do but knock me off that horse that is so fun to ride?? Besides, the adrenaline rush is sooooo exhilerating! Pray. Peeshaw."

And now the Conscience overrides the dark side with the only action worth a darn: "O Lord, please help me find my stupid missing paperwork that is gone forever." or something to that effect. And then I walked away.
2 hours later, I decided that I would backtrack and create an entirely new document. Just for grins, I pulled the most recent 'Ellen' document and tried to "Save As" to a place that I would remember. It went to a temp file location on my drive. Guess what else was there? The document that went missing. Prayer answered.
Why do I share this with you? There are only three possibilities:

1. To demonstrate that I clearly have more work ahead of me in many areas of my life
2. To illustrate that wisdom & clarity can & does issue from the mouths of 12-year olds
3. Go to prayer first: it will save you 10 minutes of angst

*Footnote: It is honorably mentioned here that I learned as a pre-Christian, a prayer that my Grandma Phillips taught me. If something has gone missing, simply cross both legs and ask God to help you find it. As a Catholic, I learned that Grandma's prayer was the Methodist version of the "Tony, Tony please come round, something's lost that must be found" request. Bottom line, I know St. Anthony is behind this whole thing! Thanks be to God.

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