We have recently moved back to Sydney after living in Noosa, Queensland for two and half years. In the process of relocating I had forgotten to register our car back to New South Wales. No dramas, I thought, it’s going to be easy.
But I soon discovered there was a convoluted process to get our car registered: a mechanical service, blue slip, green slip, changing plates, licenses etc. Each service added up and the cost of a car rego was more than two weeks wage for us—five times more than what we had budgeted living in Queensland
(Ouch! Welcome back to Sydney).
I felt a bit distressed when I heard the figures over the phone knowing we couldn’t afford to register our car! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, because for Az and I it’s been an ongoing season of keeping our heads above water financially.
I also didn’t realize how much I had become dependent on being mobile, the convenience of jumping in the car to go to the shops, doing the school run, or catching up with a friend. Without a car, I would have to consider alternative transport. I hadn’t caught public transport in years!
But, what was the point of crying over not having money when it wouldn’t change anything. What was the point of praying out of fear? So, I just laughed—at our circumstances. My son wears second hand school uniform, we op shop and have managed to furnish our two bedroom unit with used furniture from the side of the road. The positive side we are recycling.
The more I laughed, the more I couldn’t care less about the bills that were adding up, and I started giving thanks to God for all He had done. Sometimes in the tough times we easily forget all the miracles and provisions that have come to pass. I was determined not to be robbed of my joy! Funnily enough, I felt completely at peace—not a normal response for me. It was supernatural!
When Az and I have had no money, I would start to panic, stressing about paying our bills on time—this was my normal response—and sometimes it added pressure to our marriage. I would be too ashamed to tell people about our financial state because I thought they would judge us, but that was a wrong mindset, one that I had grown up with. I know, now, most people empathize with where we were, and are, at.
This has helped me to believe that true happiness isn’t in our financial security, the figures in our bank accounts, but more about what’s going on inside the heart. What am I putting my trust in?
Consequently, I have learnt not to worry as much. It’s not the end of the world to not pay bills on time. There are far worse situations. I’m reminded of the poverty my own parents faced. And, what I regard as our bare minimum living in Sydney, could provide clean water and food to feed a village for a month.
We all think our lives are hard until we hear of someone else living in a far worse situation.
Another thing I learned…when our son was born, I yearned for our own sanctum. I would often dream of our own home and William’s room beautifully decorated, but unfortunately, after my diagnosis with breast cancer in 2011, I was unable to live out this dream. (my testimony is on praise precedes the victory).
God spoke to me in the cancer trial: ‘Hemmed in’. This vision came to me of Az, William and I standing in a confined space that had a divine purpose. I didn’t want to hear the words being ‘hemmed in’. The thought of being in a restrictive place made me want to run. Independent Jo didn’t want to have to rely on people. I wanted my own space to journey out the cancer. But God is not always about convenience. He orchestrated my little family and I to live with friends at my weakest and most vulnerable. It was uncomfortable.
William was nine months old by this time. We ended up moving around four to five times staying with different friends for almost a 12-month period. It was very challenging for our young family. I don’t know how we did it, but God’s grace was upon us, hallelujah!
Sometimes when things don’t go as planned, it is best to surrender—the process of death to self!
Our time staying with friends became a blessing in disguise; a tremendous support during a terminal illness. And despite what I wanted, God blessed me with what I needed and that was a spiritual community, agreeing for God’s healing over me. And I can testify of that today!
After I had finished four rounds of chemo and two surgeries in 2011, my body was not the same. I couldn’t return to full time work as a freelance hairstylist—even now after 6 years. I have found it physically restrictive to work and to find the right work that fits around William’s school hours.
We have had to live off one wage, relying on Az to work, and live an essential lifestyle—just the basics of roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, clothes on our back. For me, not being able to work, has been a battle; not being able to function physically has been disheartening. I have had to trust God whole heartedly in my discomfort.
Sometimes it is easy to focus on all the things that are not happening or the breakthrough we are still waiting for, that we miss what God might be teaching in the midst of a trial. Our character matters to God and learning how to persevere when things don’t go according to plan.
He will never leave us nor forsakes us! Hebrews 13:5. That’s His promise.
It’s been a journey of endurance to arrive at a place of becoming content in Christ and not allow the circumstances of living frugal or being in hardship to dictate my emotional wellbeing. Because this I know:
Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall in to various trials.
Be assured that the testing of your faith (through experience) produces endurance (leading to spiritual maturity and inner peace).
And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed (in your faith) lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4 AMP