What does it all mean?

Today I had a breakdown. I have been working out of town, getting a new project off the ground. I was in the middle of a stressful budget planning meeting when I got a call from Vicki.

“Our gas just got turned off!” she said.

“What do you mean it just got shut off?” I replied angrily. “I didn’t know that was overdue!”

“Neither did I!” she shot back, “I never received a notice in the mail.”

” We have no hot water for showers or dishes, no way to dry the laundry and we can’t use the stove. What should we do now?” she asked. “They won’t talk to me because my name isn’t on the account. They want you to call them.” she added.

“I’ll get back to you after my meeting.” I snapped.

Vicki takes on the huge task of making sure the family bills are paid on time. I lashed out and blamed her for not telling me sooner. I caught myself before I went too far, but I know I hurt her feelings and had to ask her forgiveness. All that was left to do was look in the mirror.

There are times when shouldering the responsibility of financially providing for this family feels effortless, like it is part of what I was meant to do. I gladly sacrifice my all for it. Then there are times like today, when I wonder how I am ever going to manage. Things have been very tight. Since I became self-employed and am now in the process of starting a new business, my wives and I have been carefully budgeting and shifting to make sure everything gets covered at the right time. It’s a balancing act. Any extra cash has been funneled into the new venture. On one hand I have had more time to spend with my family, more freedom to set my own hours and determine my own pay; on the other hand there has been a loss of financial security. I don’t have a set paycheck every two weeks.

My income arrives in batches. When I am between jobs, if a customer owes me and fails to pay or my expenses out pace my income, it is easy to get overwhelmed. I hate that my wives have to work at all.  Every time I see something not managed well in the home I blame it on my lack of ability to provide adequately.

I’ve noticed how when women socialize with one another they tend to ask about each other’s children or their emotional well-being. When my guy friends and I get together we ask each other about what we are doing for work or how the career is going. It seems a man’s identity, at least in my culture is tied up in his work. If you are not providing, you are not much of a man.

The family that depends on me.

I guess that is why I felt like such a failure today when I heard the gas payment was not made. Growing up there was a time when my family had a rough stretch financially. As a teenager our heat got turned off, as did our phone and a few other non-essentials that were sacrificed. I remember being humiliated to tell my friends why they couldn’t call me, and I judged my Dad for it. I vowed I would never be in that circumstance when I had a family.

So here I am in a financial crunch, with my gas turned off for the first time in my adult life. I wanted to be angry at someone and feel sorry for myself. I wanted to make it mean I have somehow failed. But in the end, all it means is that my gas got turned off today.

Tomorrow I will call the gas company and get it straightened out. After all the blaming and beating myself up, I am humbled. Today I learned there is no humility in humiliation. Sometimes the best laid plans just don’t work out. I know I have three amazing women who support me, and kids that love me no matter how much I make. They are my inspiration!   I have always said that failures are only mistakes we don’t learn by. Now it is time to truly apply that motto as I begin my new business.

This entry was posted in Mishaps, Our Family, Polygamy, Saving Money. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to What does it all mean?

  1. Lindsey says:

    What a humble story to share. I appreciate you sharing this because you are a great role model not just for a polygamous family, but a husband, family, and business owner. My husband and I just relocated to a new town to start our own business so I can completely empathize with the stress and anxiety of overlooking a bill and what it might feel like for some who just can’t pay when it’s due.

    I’m sending you all prayer and gratitude today and look forward to hearing about how your new venture takes off like crazy and how rewarding it is to sacrifice in the short run to be a business owner. In these sometimes stressful times my motto has been “don’t be afraid of the abundance you have created”. Abundance in terms of extra time with my family, more freedom in my day, and someday overwhelming financial freedom that was the reason we did this in the first place.

    Take care!

  2. Esmeralda says:

    Wow! thank you for writing this!!

    Its difficult for me to understand my husband sometimes,and i absolutely hate that at times he feels a huge weight on his shoulders when providing for our family.

    I do work part time,but i havent always.Thankfully i chose to work,and it happened at a good time b/c my husband recently graduated and is starting his first job out of college. we are pretty much starting over. New field-new pay=less pay.
    But we are making it work,and i know its for the best :)

    We have more family time,he has more “me time,” and everyone is benefiting from his new career change and him earning his BSIT in SE.

    So,thank you for your perspective as a male,father,and husband.

    Blessings to your family! :)

  3. Rella Vaughn says:

    I bet the wives and kids had a great adventure, cooking on the bbq and heating water outside! Not all bad. he he
    Thank you for sharing. It’s helpful to see folks you look up to aren’t perfect and there’s no shame in forgetting to pay a bill. Tell Vicki that I still haven’t paid another water bill. I really need to get on that.

    God bless!

  4. Vicky says:

    Have you thought about getting/paying your bill(s) online? Might help. Sorry for the stress you are going through. Hang in there :)

  5. Cate8 says:

    This shows you are human. It also shows you are trying. It reminds me of the passage in Ephesians 5 :25-33.

  6. Kari Kirkland says:

    I am the bill payer in my home and I can become very defensive when asked a question by my husband like “Did the cable bill get paid?” Why yes it did, and I automatically assume he doubts my abilities. After reading this, it is nice to know that sometimes men get focused on one thing for a reason and I am sure that my husband only asks so that he can have peace of mind that all is well in the checking side of the relationship. Of course, we do have to show him the books from time to time if I can’t figure out something tricky (usually when we add in a new expense)
    Thank you so much for this blog. I love hearing Joe’s point of view!

  7. Annie says:

    It has happened to us. I told the kids it was campout night. I put a tent up in the living room, built a fire outside and we cooked baked potato’s and chicken, and hot dogs. Of course we had smores for dessert. They loved it. By the time they were up the next day we had hot water and the stove working again. it happened five years later with the light bill, we had even more fun that night. So much fun that now on Fridays once a month we shut the power off on purpose. Now that kids are older 24,20.17 and 13, I told them what happened, money was tight and Daddy was laid off. They told me those days were some of the best days of there childhood. I always tried to make a positive out of the negative and it worked. Praise the Lord. Hugs and prayers on the way. It will get better.

  8. Amy says:

    We’ve all been at a financial struggle at some point. This was a good read and a great reminder of how difficult it is on my husband to have the weight of providing for our family. May God continue to bless your family.

  9. Charity M. says:

    What a shame.
    Funny how we often assume the worst instead of seeing others as people…not objects.
    My husband likes to throw things into our walls when he’s angry. Someday I’m afraid he’ll throw something into a person. ha! He rarely apologizes for losing his temper and justifies his anger to an unhealthy degree. In those times I am ready to walk out the door…his yelling and lack of consideration makes me want to scream back at him (I don’t…but I want to).
    No doubt Vicki felt the same thing…a loss of identity…when you yelled at her. She probably felt that she was an object.
    You may not throw object into walls, but throwing words at a person can hurt just as badly.
    Of course, you probably already know this. :)

  10. Kay says:

    Don’t be so hard on yourself or your family. You are all human and humans make mistakes. You and your family have handled thing exceptionally well. You will make it through this hurdle too.

    Also, it doesn’t hurt to have your kids learn from this too. Maybe they do not need a shower every day and life could be much harder for them. They have clothes, a loving home and food every day. I frequently see kids who do not have those things.

  11. Butch says:

    “no way to dry the laundry” It is called a clothesline. It is May. Besides, have two notices been sent? You have till two to pay. Tell them you have until two to pay.

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