I was going to write about something else today, but events have changed my mind and I think this needs recording before anything else I'd like to talk about. Those things can wait, but this is feels more important right now.
I'm in a position of being totally in charge of my own upkeep for the first time. My parents, who are amazing and very genorous, supported me through uni, and are keen to see me stay out of debt. For this I am so grateful, because I know that it's more than what some people have. But they have three other kids and a wedding to plan, so I need to be earning my own money now, being independant, taking care of myself.
Or so I believe sometimes.
I spoke to God about this a while back, telling him that I wanted to stay in Loughborough, and if he was on board with that then he would need to supply me with a house to live in, and a job to pay for my upkeep. I left it at that and shortly afterwards my current housemate came across the place we are now living. It's a great house, the rent is pretty low (it doesn't include bills but it's still a good deal), and I have an awesome room.
I love my room. After living on the ground floor for two years in my last place I now have the largest bedroom in the house, it's upstairs, it has bookshelves and lots of storage, a window I can leave open at night without fear of people climbing in through it, I get the sun in the afternoons, and the street outside is a quiet one. The sofas in the living room and big and comfy, and although we don't have a dining table we do have a coffee table which allows us to eat in the same room rather than taking food back to our desks, the bathroom is clean and feels larger than it is, and there is no lawn to mow! And above all I've been getting on really well with the second housemate, who I hadn't known before we moved in. I think we're going to be great friends, which is fantastic. All in all, this house is a real blessing and I'm really happy to be living here.
So, one down.
Jobs. I don't have one yet. I'm on Jobseekers Allowance while I'm looking, which will just about cover the rent but not food. I wouldn't mind taking part time work except it only makes sense to do so if there are enough hours to make it worth my while. Obviously any income is good, but if a job pays only slightly more per week than JSA, it makes more sense for me to use my time doing things that will benefit me in the long run. Two friends of mine are currently doing part time and temp work, so I know that's an option but again the hours have to be there or it makes no sense. I'm currently working out a budget so I can see exactly where my money goes, how much I can get by on and how much I have to play with, and of course I still want to pursue illustration as a long term goal, so I need to leave time for that. Life is also in the mix of course, throwing in friends, birthdays, trips, coffee meets, things that break without warning, not having a bath mat, and so on. I want to be generous with the money I have, but also I know I have to be careful with it and use the gift I've been given responsibly.
But there's one source of income I hadn't counted on to be reliable -God.
You hear all the time about God coming through when money is tight, but it's one of those things where it's easy to believe in theory that God can and will provide, but maybe not in practise, or maybe for other people but not for you. So it's important for me to remember what happened about a week ago.
I was feeling the pinch. I'd just checked my bank account to see what I had left, and was working out how long it would last me, and it looked like it would take me up until the end of August, maybe mid-September if I was stringent. Suddenly it felt like a very short amount of time, and although I knew better than to worry it was still hovering in the back of my mind and causing me a niggling of stress. I prayed about it and left it at that, but it still preyed on my thoughts a bit.
A day or two later I got a call from a girl on my course, saying that after I'd noticed my email address spelt wrong on the Elements website that had been made to show off all our final degree work, they had found it was printed incorrectly in the catalogue too. Of course this meant it didn't match our business cards and could make things a bit awkward for people trying to contact us, so the course was going to compensate us. Now I had only spent £5 on my business cards, getting them printed locally and cutting them out myself, but some people had ordered really expensive ones on line, spending around £100 on them, so the course had picked a middle figure.
"We'll give you £40 compensation," I was told.
"But that's more than I spent," I protested. "My cards only cost a fiver."
"It doesn't matter," she replied. "The figure's fixed, because everyone spent different amounts they've set this as an average. Don't argue about it, just take the money."
So I did. Rent for the week, paid.
A few days later I found out that the degree show team had actually underspent on their expected budget, so we would all be getting another £20-25 back.
Food for the week, paid.
The last one surprised me the most. I was out with the Street Pastors that Saturday, and it was a pretty quiet night. Before we went out we prayed for each other, and I brought up how I was feeling nervous about the money situation so the others prayed about that, and we went out arounf 11. Most of the students had gone home for the summer, so there wasn't a lost of trouble about and we were just walking and talking. I stopped to throw some bottles and cans into a bin and a man sitting next to the bin with his friend asked me what I was doing. I told him and we got into a bit conversation about it, because he simply could not believe that I was out here on the streets, a 22 year old female, engaging with drunks and clubbers voluntarily. I explained the reason I was did it, that God showing his caring in my life inspires me to want to look out for other people, and he just looked more surprised. Suddenly he pulled out his wallet.
"Look," he said, "me and my friend have been to the races, we put money aside to make a day of it but we've still got a lot left from the beer fund." He displayed a fan of ten and twenty pound notes, then pulled out one of the tenners and offered it to me. "Here, I want you to take this."
"I can't possibly take that from you," I told him, "We're not paid, we just do this because we love it." But he kept insisting. Mike, the leader for the night, suggested that we could put it into the Street Pastor funds, but the man was insistant.
"No! No, I want you to have this. Go and get yourself something nice with it. If you don't I'll be offended." At that Mike nodded at me from behind the man's shoulder, so I took the note and thanked him.
When we got back to the HQ I told everyone else what had happened and asked what I should do with it, thinking that since it was mine I could put it in with the funds, but the others insisted that since we'd agreed I would spend it on myself we had to keep our word.
So I took home £10 from Street Pastors.
Bills for the week, paid.
And that's everything.
The strange this is that after all my worries and efforts, after feeling that I needed to do it all myself, I didn't do a single thing in any of these instances. I was just there, carrying on with life, and money just fell out of the sky on top of my head.
If one of these things had happened alone I might have passed it off as nice but meaningless, but to have all three come up in the same week, the week that I had brought that problem to God, and to cover my expenses exactly... Some things you can't explain in terms of math and chance, and you know no one else will believe you if they're unwilling to, but this just felt like it all clicked in. I wonder if this is not just God providing for me, since I did still have money at this point, but also him giving me hints. Look, see? I can do this. You can trust me with this. I know what you need, PRECISELY what you need. You just have to tell me, and then be brave and give me a chance to look after you.
Not to say that I don't have to work for it, of course I do, but I need to realise that I CAN expect more from God, that I CAN ask him about very specific things, and that he IS capable of work that fine and precise. It would be insulting for me to expect anything less of him.