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Poverty As Jesus' Special Kiss

alec vanderboom

Great. I start to write some cheerful posts about how Poverty is great for my Spiritual Life and Jesus is like "Yeah! Now you are talking! Lets go even deeper."

I sweetly respond: "No! Noooooo!"

Last night, Jon and I had a little budget summit about the Benjamin Family finances. May and June have the perfect storm of various bills all coming due at the same time. I'm the weaker of the two of us, so I started feeling the familiar pangs of anxiety pretty quickly. (I've nicknamed my anxiety "spiritual asthma." When I hit certain anxiety triggers, my body translates my nervousness into a physical sensation in my chest that makes it hard to breathe.)

So we're talking about the bills over an open laptop on my bed and I suddenly think "I'm having trouble breathing, I need my inhaler." It's not really bad, its just uncomfortable. I keep talking to my husband. We're problem-solving and throwing ideas back and forth. For a few seconds while I'm speaking, my eyes start darting around my room. "Where's my inhaler? I need to use it now."

There there was such a sad moment when I realized "I don't have an inhaler. All I have Him!" It was like I forgot for a moment that this constriction in my chest is all mental. I don't have asthma. There is no physical cure for the momentary discomfort that I'm feeling. Rather than feel better, I felt so sad and hopeless for a few seconds. There is no easy cure to stop this worry. "All I have is Him."

When people write on their blogs about St. Faustina's "Jesus, I trust in you" sometimes I feel like every other Catholic feels total serenity while saying those words all the time. When I pray that prayer, I'm usually not feeling rainbows and unicorns. When I pray "Jesus, I trust in you" inside a stressful event, the subtext in my head is often "Really?All I have is you? Because I sort of would prefer to have an inhaler, extra money in my bank account, and a live in maid!"

My prayer process is messy. Yet it works. I got through the moment by feeling only mildly uncomfortable. This morning, I woke up and my anxiety had almost totally disappeared.

The summer "food challenge" is on. This morning, I'm in the game instead of whimpering in a corner.

To comfortably pay all the bills that we'd like to pay this summer, I need to drop 1/3 of my grocery budget for the next 3 months. My husband is totally calm and thinks this is possible. As the main cook in our family, and the anxious one in our marriage, I'm thinking "Um, I don't know how we go lower than Oatmeal and Ramen." So that is my mission over the next four days until my husband's next pay period. "How do I make a healthy and edible meal plan on an even smaller budget?"

Jesus, I trust in you!