If you’ve never had an anxiety attack, its one of those things that is hard to explain… The first time I had a full blown anxiety attack I was a freshmen in college. I woke up sweating in my bunk bed, thoughts racing like an adrenaline rush. It felt like the air was being sucked out of the room faster than I could inhale; the faster I gasped the more sparse it got. My heart was pounding in my ears- how could it not have woken the two other girls asleep feet from me? I wanted to tell myself to calm down; to breathe; to be reasonable, but there was no getting a hold of my body.
I continued to have these attacks until I figured out the source of the anxiety and started to deal with it.
The older I got, the more anxiety attacks faded into a tightness in my chest or a shortness of breath that was usually unexplainable. My Holzbauer genes are likely to blame. My mom’s family has always struggled with these symptoms and many of my relatives are on medication to control them.
Money is not a big deal to me. I grew up on the poor side of things- lots of kids, one income, hand-me-downs, and used toys. I can honestly say it never bothered me. That little Guess? triangles on jeans? Didn’t care a whip. Not a penny pincher and not a spender, that’s me. I remember the first time I had anxiety over spending money. I had moved to an apartment and bought new bedding that added up to $100. I had never spent $100 in one place on something that wasn’t necessary. I called my mom regretful and crying. She asked me, “well do you have the money?” I did. “Do you have outstanding bills you can’t pay?” I didn’t. She calmed me down.
Tithing wasn’t a big deal for me because I had grown up doing it. I never thought of that 10% as mine and took it out of my checks first thing along with rent and anything else I needed to pay. It was simple to me. I didn’t have anxiety about it.
When Cohen was born we found ourselves in a bad position- we’d been told we had a huge check coming from Shawn’s record that we’d be planning on while we used our credit cards to fill the gap. The check? It didn’t come until a year later and was 1/3 the agreed upon amount. It sent us into a tailspin financially.
We brought Co home from the hospital and didn’t have money to buy diapers or groceries. I will never forget the anxiety that came over me when that realization hit home… I can’t, because its still here.
A year and a half later, I wait days to open mail and avoid checking my account online until I can’t any longer. I feel like vomiting, I start to sweat, that unwelcomed tightness takes over me again. I do this even when I know I have money in the account.
Last week, I made myself get into my account and discovered I had well over 9x the amount of money I thought I had because I had forgotten about transferring some money (for puppies) from my paypal account. Waves of relief rolled over me as I wrote out check after check, paying things off, making payments, and even paying some things in advance.
Then I thought about my tithe. The worst thing about my money-anxiety is that I am so tempted now to keep what is God’s. I am so worried about coming up short that I consider shorting Him. I hate it. I hate it when I give my tithe begrudgingly. I hate it when I talk myself out of giving it at all.
I stared at my pile of checks and I knew in all of my relief and thankfulness I will still tempted to overlook writing that check. I had 9x what I thought I had and I still wanted to overlook it!
Something in me said “ENOUGH”. I wrote out the check to the church God has blessed me with. I put Cohen in the car and I drove it up to the office and gave it to the receptionist. I knew if I waited until Sunday, I might let my worry take over and talk myself out of it.
Wouldn’t you know Monday morning I got a very unexpected refund from our old mortgage company? About $950 worth of a refund? Apparently we overpaid them at the closing of our Seattle home. Oh, and the electric company? Overpaid them too. Oh, and that stimulus check? Finally came.
I love what my church teaches about tithing: We don’t give to get blessed. We don’t need to give because God is broke or the Church is broke. We give to get our hearts’ FREE! We give to be obedient. We give to remind ourselves that God is Worthy and that everything is His- even the air He so graciously allows us to breath.
It was a good reminder for me that if the flowers of the field are clothed and the birds of the air are fed, that I don’t need to waste so much time worrying about tomorrow.