Living the Abundant Life
by Catherine Finger
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
“Money, money, money . . . money!” Remember that O’Jays’ classic song from the 70s? It rang through me like a tuning fork every time my dad pointed to my piggy bank when I asked him for gas money as a teen. The odd jobs of my youth produced capital—and I saved every penny to fund my developing horse habit. The ‘luxuries’ like gas and groceries were my parent’s responsibility. Or so I thought.
Forty-some years later, I find myself retired from the world of work, without a steadily increasing income for the first time in my life. I still struggle with the definition of ‘luxuries’ versus ‘essentials,’ even though I know better. On my worst days, if I don’t manage my spiritual, physical, emotional, and social selves well, I can spin into an abject panic. Nothing makes me edgier than having to consider a diet or an improvement in my exercise routines—except having to consider living on a budget.
I learned long ago that a biblical framework of abundance leads to much healthier, happier living for me than a framework of restriction. Centering my heart, soul, and mind on my Lord and His Word is the only path to peace and joy for me. Trust me—I’ve tried everything else. When I yield to His peace and presence in my life, money falls in line like everything else brought into the light. My metaphor for money on these best days is love. I like to think of money as an expression of love—to myself, to my loved ones, to my world. Seen in this light, the question of ‘budget’ is more of a question of “how can I live in such a way as to maximize my ability to love myself and others through the use of my income?” This is much more productive for me than to think of money and living on a budget as a discipline.
Love compels me to give. Love also compels me to live wisely so as not to be a burden on others and to be able to serve others in their time of need. And to delight others when the opportunity presents itself. This mindset gives me joy and purpose in considering how to manage my money in the short and long term. True in my 40-plus years as a working woman, true today in my newly retired life.
This new world of retirement takes some getting used to in many areas. My social world shrank. My once-overflowing daily schedule ground to a halt. My perennial list of ‘must do’s’ flitted to the ground. And my seemingly non-stop stream of income narrowed considerably.
It’s taken me some time, prayer and therapy to understand and embrace ‘downtime’ and ‘downsizing’ as a single adult living alone in this new land of retirement. It was challenging for me to decide where I want to be, who I want to be, how I want to live in this next phase of life—let alone ciphering through how much it would cost me and whether or not I could afford it. I assure you I prayed and sought counsel—but this was a solo journey into the wilderness for me. It was a good two years before I figured out my next steps in this new adventure of retirement. And while I claim no expertise in finance or any other worlds beyond education and equines, I happily and humbly offer a few gems from my journey.
When I was sixteen years old, I decided that my mission while on this planet was a simple one: love the people that God places in my path before Him—and stay on His path. Today at 58 years old, I have reclaimed the vision of my youth. And it is freeing.
A few key framing questions guide my budgeting beliefs and actions. Am I living simply? Am I creating space and time to love the people God has placed in my life today? Am I wisely stewarding the gifts of time and money He has given me to love and live accordingly?
When I find myself drifting off the path, I do have a few solid tips and tricks to live by:
- Stay on top of your money matters. Know where every penny is. Monitor all bills and create routines for paying slightly ahead of time. Minimize and seek to eliminate debt.
- Treat your money like it belongs to Someone Else. If I knew I had been appointed by God to steward every penny, how would I behave? Obedience matters for people of faith. Obedience in money matters is especially important. The Bible is full of instruction on tithing and giving to both the church, and the poor. Strive to structure your finances with giving as a top priority.
- Be honest with yourself. How much money do you need to live well? And what matters most to you in your lifestyle? Budget for it and be ruthless. My biggest personal extravagances are my horse, and my love of travel. Both are expensive pursuits. I picked up a part time job to feed these habits—which frees me up financially and emotionally to enjoy my choices.
- Be forgiving. Money matters can be intimidating. You’re going to fall short of your financial goals at times. Don’t be blown out of the water. Let it go. Rejoice and move forward.
- Prioritize. My family members are scattered all over the country. Travel is required to see them. Travel costs money. See #3.
- Keep the faith. Christ-centered living results in Christ-like characteristics demonstrated in our lives. Are you living in love and faith before Him? Casting all my financial cares more consistently at the foot of the Cross is the way through the dark forest of doubt and worry that crop up when I’m not tending to my heart and mind.
Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Recently retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates the ability to choose how to spend her time in a new way during the second half of life. So far, she chooses to write books, ride horses, serve others, and generally find her way into and out of trouble both on the road and at home. Catherine loves to interact with her readers at www.CatherineFinger.com. Follow her on Facebook at Catherine Finger, Author, and on Twitter at CatherineFinger@BeJoOliver.
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