what people mean when they say "god will provide."

in church sometimes, they will have people get up on stage and share their testimonies about how god provided what they needed when they needed it. this usually revolves around finances and happens before the offering is taken, but sometimes they have whole services of people's stories about how god is faithful.

it's pretty non-traditional, but i think it's good to be reminded, with stories that aren't from the bible. i always find it to be very inspiring, like i want to know what those people know about god. nobody likes public speaking, and many of them say that when they're up there, but there's something about their story that makes them want to stand on a platform and share it.

i'll be honest. it was wanting what they had that made me start tithing again. i wasn't, for a while, because i didn't have a job when i first moved. and then i continued to not give anything, because surely god is the kind of father who is like, "no no, you pay your bills before you give anything to me and end up with not enough."

i think my dad in real life has done a pretty stellar job of portraying the kind of fatherly love god has for us, which is probably where that idea came from. if i owed my dad money, he wouldn't insist i pay him back if it meant not being able to pay my bills. in fact, i'm pretty sure i do owe him money, and i'm pretty sure he's just forgotten about it.

because that's what dads do.

but the thing about hearing other people's stories is it proved to me, over and over again, that god is bigger than the box i've put him in. i didn't even realize i had him in a box, or that i was comparing him to my dad in real life––and not the other way around.

my dad in real life acts a lot like god. god does not act like my dad in real life.

which means, god wants my money first, before i pay my bills, because he's not afraid that i will "end up with not enough."

he will provide enough, that is the point.

so i started tithing again, and i'll be honest again and say that word makes me cringe a little. i'd rather call it

giving

 and piggyback on pastors who say to "give what you can," because that means you can give more than the 10 percent the bible calls for, but that it's also okay to give less, as long as you're giving. but i'm using the t-word because i want you to know what i mean. which is, it's not okay to "give what you can" because sometimes "what you can" is nothing and that's not okay.

that's a hard thing to hear, and an awkward thing to say. because

i don't know you and your financial situation

, but i'll say what those people who get up on stage understand that i only just learned: you may be right, but i know my god and his faithfulness and he is bigger than you and your financial situation.

that doesn't make it any easier, i know.

but listen, i don't have a job. at the risk of being too honest and sharing too much information, i'll tell you i don't have a savings account. if you were to ask me how long i can make it before i run out of money, i would tell you this: zero days.

most people think that having a consistent job is how you pay your bills. i am (present tense) one of them. i hope that one day, very soon, i will be able to count myself among the employed. but the truth is, your job is not your source.

i've had this phrase bouncing around in the back of my mind since i first heard it, years ago, while visiting a church in connecticut that i wasn't regularly attending.

your job is not your source.

it wasn't the point of the message. it was more like a pre-message statement, a warm up for what was to come. but it was a much needed reminder, and the only thing i remember from the words that were spoken that morning.

i loved the truth of it, but i didn't really know what it meant, practically, until i didn't have a job and my bills were still being paid. and not by way of a stranger walking up to me and handing me money because they felt like god told them to. (although, i'd be lying if i said i hadn't prayed for that to be the solution to my student loan debt.)

it happens more like this: on saturday, i got a phone call from a mom who i didn't know. i barely even know the mom who recommended me. it felt like one of those overnight success stories you hear about, where it looks like something crazy and miraculous. someone called me, out of the blue, and offered me a job.

but it wasn't out of the blue, because i worked for that. i reached out to people, i made connections, i was honest in telling people that i needed work and that i babysit and to tell your mom friends to tell their mom friends.

it did feel crazy and miraculous though, and i think that's what it means when people say "god will provide." it means you work hard and you do what you can and in the end, things work out in ways you couldn't have planned or predicted.

it's an incredible feeling, once it works out. once you can mail your car payment and the bottom line in your bank account won't be left in the red. once you figure out that not being put on the kids ministry schedule at church one sunday, when you're in town and willing to do it, is actually an opportunity to say "yes" when that mom calls you the day before. once you see how the pieces fit together.

in the mean time, it's mildly terrifying. to not know or understand or have answers. to be in the in-between, suspended in mid-air. it feels like holding your breath, waiting for things to fall into place.

i'm still there. i still need a job. but here is what i'm learning: i can still breathe.

because my god is faithful, and he will provide.