I have figured out that being broke and having a poverty mindset are two distinctly different situations, at least in my life. I visited some friends and family over the holidays and came to the realization that I am no longer the same poverty-minded individual I used to be. I always loved money, because to me money was power, but I never seemed to be able to hold on to it long. I remember the first thing my Granny and Mother told me about money when I was little, because I guess they recognized the thirst, was that I was a spendthrift. They hit me with the “love of money is the root of all evil” Bible verse. I always felt like you can’t take it with you, so why not spend it? Especially when I was a kid. They also, said that money burned a hole in my pocket, and I guess I lived up to that prophecy.
I have always held great, well paying jobs, but no matter how much money I earned, how much I cheated the tax man, how much I tithed, how many side hustles I had, cash was always still elusive for me. I remember working with many friends who had Benzes, Audis and custom tricked out trucks, while owning homes and raising privately educated, fashionably dressed kids. Here I was, working right beside them, earning basically the same salary, but struggling check-to-check. I knew that I should probably prioritize my rent and bills over taking that trip to Cali to meet that hottie from the website. I mean, let’s be real, my philosophy has always been YOLO, well before Drake. However, it never dawned on me that this “take mine off the top” mentality had now grown into a poverty mindset. I never really appreciated how much money I was making because I never learned to manage it well. I would feel like, “what am I doing wrong? Shit, I can’t afford a BMW or shop at Neiman Marcus, hell Macy’s at full price is a stretch! So, as per my usual, I found myself praying and seeking spiritual counsel from many sources on the subject of tithing, debt and just how other people deal with their money mistakes from a spiritual perspective. I was always wracked with guilt about not tithing because I couldn’t afford to tithe. I knew God wasn’t going to put me in jail for not tithing but the taxman would! I was raised tithing the full 10% and during my adult life, before I really got away from organized religion, I practiced the same thing. I must admit that I noticed my money went further when I “let God manage my 10%”. That’s what I called it, letting God manage my money. Unfortunately, once I got away from that belief, I found it hard to go back. It just didn’t make sense for me to continue to give money to the church, while I am still mired in debt. I would do dumb sheeple shit like give an offering and have the damn check bounce, just to say I paid tithes. Like God didn’t know I was robbing myself to pay the church.
This ever present guilt about my money management skills always caused me to feel less than. In my family, I was viewed as the irresponsible one, yet I am the most generous. I admit I may go overboard sometimes with the spending on friends and family, but I have always felt that they deserved the best. Interestingly enough I didn’t always transfer this feeling to myself because I felt undeserving. I mean on the outside, you couldn’t tell, hell I even fooled myself for years. I always dressed well; I like to be sharp proudly sporting my ethnicity with bright colors. It’s the Trini in me. My mother taught us to always look our best when walking out the door. “You cyan go outside looking like a little ruffian! Don’t embarrass me in public nuh.”
I would always get apartments that were decent to me, but in retrospect they also reflected my poverty mindset. I think I lived on the ground floor or in the basement for about 2 decades of my adult life. The places were cool, and they were definitely blessings at the time but God showed me over time how I was undervaluing myself. I never really believed God for more than I thought I could afford, which wasn’t a lot because of my mismanagement. It was like I was constantly punishing myself by dumbing down my wants. I remember when I needed to move once; I looked at an apartment in NE DC, because it was in my price range. That shit was in an alley, across from a cemetery and in the hood with a price tag of $1000. After that, I was like OK God, I can’t do this hood stuff for real. I ain’t bout that life! I was led to a cute little neighborhood in the cut of Rockville after seeing an ad on Craig’s List. It was a condo owned by a Trini woman and she was motivated to rent cheaply because she was purchasing the unit next door. God hooked it up that I ended up in beautiful neighborhood for $800 and a great landlord. With each subsequent apartment I asked and believed for more ideal situations, and I really just put absolute trust in God that He would provide the best living situation for my ultimate good.
Poverty, fear and complacency must be close friends because they usually occupy the thoughts simultaneously. My thinking that I was OK living in these places after their time had expired, clearly demonstrated by break-ins, electrical issues, rodents and such was crazy. I always had to have a kick in my ass to finally get moving. Looking for a place with bad credit is a stressful situation! Again, just keeping it 100. So sometimes I overlooked issues for fear that I wouldn’t find another spot. Totally irrational right? Even after all my previous victories, my thought process would always revert back. But, that is an example of Poverty mindset and irrational fear.
Now, the cliché goes, “God works in mysterious ways”, and I have to say it aptly expresses this lesson and the messenger used to convey it to me. I was going through a very dark time in my life. I had a bunch of personal and financial turmoil going on at that time and I relished my time at work so I could not have to think about my life. I worked the overnight shift and there was a temporary contractor that came in one night, a young Korean guy named Choi. Now when I went to work, I was in the zone for the first couple of hours. I usually didn’t even pay attention to who was sitting next to me. I would be chiefed up and focused on some trouble tickets. I believe dude tried to speak to me for a couple of days before I even really gave more than a polite Hello. I tried to look as unapproachable as possible because I wasn’t feeling too friendly those nights. Around his third night there, during some downtime, we struck up a conversation about my two favorite subjects God and weed. We set a time for him to come past and to blaze and politic about whatever. Once we got back to my spot, we started talking about the Holy Spirit and what it meant to grieve the Holy Spirit. Then homeboy dropped the bomb on me. He said, “I know you thought I was just coming here to kick it with you and blaze, but the Holy Spirit laid it on my heart to minister to you ever since I met you.” He said, “when I first saw you at work, you looked angry as hell, like you could bite through nails. It took me a couple of days to even get your attention.” I laughed and agreed that I may have been a little aloof. He told me that God wanted him to tell me that what grieves the Holy Spirit is living beneath your means. Living like God does not value you. He looked around the apartment and said, “you know what I mean?” Instantly I got it, I knew exactly what he was talking about. I was living in a toxic situation, next to the trash room where rodents were becoming a problem. My time there had long since expired but I was too afraid to get rejected looking for something better. He said the Holy Spirit was grieved that I was too afraid to ask for help when it was readily available. I was utterly blown away by the turn in the conversation but it was exactly what I needed to snap out of my fearful mindset.
As soon as Choi left, I had a serious prayer session and asked specifically for supernatural favor in finding a new place to live. I had to learn to take that leap of faith and KNOW that God would give me nothing less than the best for me. Since I didn’t even know what that would look like, I was too afraid of settling for less, so I let God choose and have been doing so ever since. I sometimes have a hard time making choices, so I have always asked God to let only the option for me be left standing at the end of my selection process. Oh yeah, Choi left the company a week after our meeting and I never heard from him again. He just dropped in and out of my life to leave that valuable message. Only God.
It was like something shifted in my world, ever since I had that change of mind, all of my apartments have been on the second floor and flooded with sunlight in every room. A drastic atmosphere change from ground floor and basement living. I would like to say that my money management improved at the same time but it has actually taken these past 5 years of not working to reach my next level of healing. God really has jokes, using my time of being broke to teach me not to base my worth upon earning power. I still don’t know why I constantly did dumb shit with my cash. Perhaps money trouble became my comfort zone? Maybe I got addicted to the rush of fixing the problems until the next due date? Or I just thought I would never change and kept doing the insane things repeatedly while expecting different results? Either way, I am so glad to realize I am no longer in that place. I am definitely still discovering and working out my emotional relationship to money but the “thirst” has subsided. I no longer feel like I have to “get mine first” or feel like I need to be manipulative to get God to give me what I really want. Plus, on the real, being damn near 50 and in a relationship, ain’t nobody got time to be having shit cutoff and cars repossessed. That is not sexy.
Until the next story, Be Abundantly Blessed!
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