I made an interesting.....self-discovery, we'll call it.......tonight as I was talking to my brother on the phone. He's graduating soon with a degree in electrical engineering and he's one smart cookie (good thing he never reads this, or his head would explode over the fact that I just admitted that). We got into a discussion over finances which really opened my eyes to just how important the lessons are that we ought to be learning from this topic. He and I see finances a little differently. Let me explain:
My parents have always offered to put any of their kids through college if they would just GO TO COLLEGE! Before my mission, I worked a part time job while going to school, but the vast majority of my money came from my parents. They wanted us to be able to focus on school and do well instead of having to work full time to support ourselves. Noble, right? Yes. However, it didn't work very well for me because rather than focusing, I felt like I could relax because I was being taken care of.
They offered to do the same thing with Philip. He's going to school full time and is being supported by them, and now he's about to graduate, which is great because that's what they wanted for their children.
After my mission, and especially after I got married, I decided it was time to support myself. As thankful as I was (and still am) for my parents generosity, I knew the kind of person that I was. I'm the type of person who, unless I'm working myself to death for something, I unknowingly begin to take it for granted. This journey (which is still a work in progress) to self-reliance has been extremely difficult, to be sure, in different ways than I ever imagined. There were a couple of times that we were so strapped financially that we had to accept help from my parents who were lovingly there to give. We continue to struggle every single day, and while my parents are still there offering to help, we know we have to do this on our own.
Tonight, this topic came up while talking to Philip. He chastised me for not accepting their offer. After all, if we would just let them help us, I wouldn't have had to cut down to part time school for the summer and could have graduated a little faster, getting to the point earlier where I'm earning real money. He just couldn't understand why I'm being so firm about this.
As I began trying to explain my feelings on the matter, I found myself saying something that I had never actually realized before. Skylar and I are responsible for each other in many different ways. If we were to consistently accept financial help from others, it would remove a huge portion of that responsibility we have toward one another. A relationship is made strong through accepting and living up to responsibilities. Without that responsibility, our marriage is weakened. We HAVE to struggle through this on our own for our marriage's sake! As strange as it sounds, this challenge and frustration right now is crucial to our having a strong marriage.
So I made the connection. You always hear that struggles make you grow stronger, and I just linked it all together! I felt quite impressed with myself. Actually, I can't take any credit for it. I've been contemplating this subject and the frustrations that go along with it for a long time, and tonight I think I received an answer to prayer. I now realize how necessary these things we're dealing with really are.
My first companion on my mission used to include in each of her prayers how grateful we were for our challenges and trials. I always thought in my head, "No, that's just YOU that's grateful for them! Leave me out of it!" As time goes on, however, my gratitude for the opportunity to struggle grows. We are so blessed to be facing these difficult times right now.