I’m coming out of my usual January freak out. Even though I marvel each year about how I forget about how crap I feel most Januarys, it still takes me by surprise when it happens. It really is because of the money thing. I have very little money post-Christmas, which is probably the case for many people, but because my clients are all on holidays I don’t have any money/work on the horizon and don’t have the salaried luxury of paid leave.
This year, I tried to pre-empt it a little, with a modicum of success. Because I had a couple of nice jobs in December and had also been putting the Barefoot Investor principles into practice for a few months, I had a small buffer. Hurrah! (I don’t have all most financial life sorted out by any means, but the incremental changes have been having real, noticeable effect, which is great). I think Barefoot recommends having two months’ worth of expenses as a buffer in your mojo account. Although I didn’t have even a full month’s mojo, the amount I had socked away meant as the ongoing bills kept coming out I could afford to pay them, and could pay myself a tiny amount if I needed to go out for a meal or something (hurrah #2, I still have money left in the mojo account!).
In the worst part of the month, when I thought “why am I freelancing when it brings me so much stress?”, and had heard I didn’t even get an interview for a job I thought I’d be perfect for, and started panicking that maybe I shouldn’t have moved to Launceston where there are no jobs in my field, and had the middle of the night stresses of what happens if I get sick or mum dies, and why have I been so profligate with money all my life, and why haven’t I made better career decisions, and why can’t I just not exist for a while* something happened. Well a couple of things happened. 1. I reminded myself to practise gratitude and stop and just breathe in all the amazing goodness that my life contains in any given moment. And 2. Bit of this passage kept popping up:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:22-34 (NIV)
The reminders were everywhere for about a week. In someone’s Facebook post. In my verse of the day from the Olive Tree Bible app. In my Scripture Union notes. In a Bible Society email. In a talk at CMS Summerview. God just kept pushing his word at me, gently reminding me, like a calm hand on my arm or a stroke on my head. Don’t worry. You are worth a lot to me. Just rest in this fallow period. Don’t panic. It will be alright. I will provide.
I posted my sermon doodling on social media because I thought maybe it would be useful to someone else feeling the way I was. And that’s why I wrote this post, I guess, as it might encourage you.Work is starting to flow in again, as I should have trusted it would. A couple of small invoices were paid today, which brought a flood of relief (my regular account had been at about $4 for over a week, and to see it read $400 was pure joy! And then a couple of bills came out today, so the timing was perfect. Of course it was). The freelance life is stressful. It has its benefits but (like anything) has significant downsides too. My key thing is I have to keep trusting God to provide. Because he always does! He led me to where I am today and gave me the skills I have because he has something for me to do. And I am learning new skills to be better with money. It’s never too late to learn.
When putting together my job application for the job I didn’t get an interview for, I wondered whether my overtly Christian portfolio would be offputting to a secular organisation. No doubt it would! I don’t blame anyone for going “nope”, even though it’s kind of not fair on one level. The name “Jesus” all over things is pretty confronting if you aren’t a believer, no matter how decent the design is. Sometimes I wonder whether I would actually “make it” as a graphic designer in the secular world.
But the fact is I’m self-taught, I’ve been doing this work for around 15 years, I am reasonably good at it, and work keeps coming my way from Christian organisations. Why do I think I need to look elsewhere? I keep saying “I don’t want a lot of money, just enough” but do I really believe that? What would ever be enough? God provides what I need. And when I look at our house and the food we eat and the peace I have here knowing that I am loved, I know that this is more than enough.
* “why can’t I just not exist for a while” – just to clarify when I am in a depressive episode, I don’t want to do anything to hurt myself, it’s just more a wishing I could power off and just not be in the world until time has moved on and the difficult part has passed and I can creep back out of my hole. Turn off the noise. Turn off the inputs. Have no one expect anything of me. I’m sure we all experience a desire for a pause every now and again, it’s just an extreme version of that. But I just wanted to say don’t worry, it’s not a signal that I’m going to self-harm. But it is a flag to me that I need to rest and sort my head out a bit.