Today I made a decision that will change my life forever; or should I say I made ANOTHER decision that will change my life forever? At 23, I have found myself at a crossroad. I’m considered an adult by law, but not always seen as such by my parents. I’m independent, but yet not quite totally self-dependent.
At 18 years old, I had graduated high school and made the decision to attend Hampton University in the fall of 2003. Prior to my departure, my parents decided to open me a bank account with Bank of America because that particular bank was here in Texas, and in Virginia where I’d be for school. My dad gave me a bankcard linked to a checking & a savings account. He told me “this is our account, only me and you have access to it, I will put your monthly allowance in the checking and should any emergency arise, you’ll be able to get money from the savings.”
At the time, I didn’t realize what I had been given. It only took me a few short weeks at Hampton to realize I had something that most of my peers didn’t. I had all my expenses paid: car, insurance, tuition, books, cell phone, and on top of that, I was given a monthly allowance to do whatever I wanted to do! Welcome to the good life right?!
Ever since I was given that freedom, I have been a person whose life revolves around instant gratification. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just buy things for myself all the time, I’d treat my friends who couldn’t afford to go to the movies or go out to eat on the weekends, cause I didn’t want them to miss out over something “as small as money.” I laugh now at that way of thinking, but that was/has been my mindset. I understood that everyone was not a “have” but I also knew that since I did “have,” I could easily give to the “have not’s.”
As time went on, I became less and less conscious of my spending habits and monthly allowance, especially when I learned that the savings account was set up as overdraft protection for the checking. A few times throughout my college years, I was a bit excessive with the spending and my dad would call and lecture/fuss and then all would be cool. I’d do good for a few months and then get back in the swing of the regular routine of spending.
So this pattern continued all the way until December 2007, when I decided I wanted to get my own place. I’d graduated from Hampton in May 2007 and moved back home to work @ the church (SOOO wasn’t my life goal or plan!). After being away at school for so long, I’d gotten out of the habit of “checking in” and being home by a decent hour. All that stuff goes out the window in college, so moving back home wasn’t an easy task. I decided in December 07 that I had to get out and be on my own, not just for the sake of freedom, but also to teach myself a thing or two about financial discipline, paying bills and credit.
I moved out February 2008 and paid cash for all my furniture (I started buying furniture while I was still living in my parent’s house). It felt good to have my own and to have worked for my own, I was getting used to supporting myself and not using my dad’s card. I lived in my own place until my lease ended in March 2009. 7months prior to my lease ending, God gave me the go ahead to plan to leave my job at the church and prepare to make the “BIG MOVE” to Nashville, TN. I had wanted to move to Nashville since I was in college, but never felt it was my time. So when God said, “cool” I put together a 9 Months Savings Plan so that I could be set for 6months without any income in Nashville, if such ended up the case.
This strict savings plan required that I cut back on eating out, shopping, and luxury purchases altogether. The plan also required that I live at home with my parents for the last 2months. Moving back in the house in March 2009 was rough. I thought I was gonna loose my mind the first couple weeks. In time, things smoothed over and life got better, until…
Last month (May 2009), I lost the bankcard that was linked to my personal checking/savings account so I began using my dad’s card with the intent to transfer the funds later. Well, you know how life goes…the transfers only happened two times over the course of 2.5weeks. I spent more then I realized because, just like back in the college days, I knew that there was a seemingly “bottomless pit” to this account thanks to good ol’ overdraft protection! Yeah, Right! So needless to say, I was careless again for the first time in a long time & boy did it come back to bite me!
My dad came home from out of town last week and called me into his bedroom. He handed me the latest bank statement…3 pages long…and asked me if I had spent all this money or if someone got a hold of my bankcard. I looked over each page recalling my previous activities and was able to verify that all except one mysterious $1500 ATM withdrawal belonged to me. I then explained to my dad that I’d lost my bankcard to my personal account and had just gotten a temporary card until I received my replacement. I told him that I would add up everything and reimburse him for my purchases.
For days I replayed my conversation with my dad and thought, “how can I fix this situation?” The first thought of course, was getting him his money back. And the second thought was, cut up the bankcard. Everyday for 6 days I kept thinking this same thing and kept getting the same answer “cut the card.” God are you sure? I’m about to move! What if…! “Cut the card,” He’d say every time.
So I decided to do as God said and cut the card. I went to my dad tonight and told him I wanted to give him a “Pre-Father’s Day Gift.” Me, him and my mom sat down at the kitchen table and I said, “I didn’t expect to have to do this until I was about to get married.” I really didn’t think I’d be letting go of his account until then…seriously! Anyway, I apologized for my financial irresponsibility and told them that I’d made the decision to cut his bankcard. I asked them could we pray, (they made me pray! lol) so we did and then I began to cut! Afterwards, they told me they forgive me and they too have dealt with not being a good steward in the past and they appreciate me making steps towards change. We ended on a good note.
I’m still in a bit of shock and disbelief right now. After 6 years of complete access, I’ve officially cut myself from the account, and by choice! At 23, well in two weeks I’ll be 24, but I have friends who are totally independent, buying houses and cars and then I have other friends who are still living at home, pretty dependent on their parents. I’m somewhere in the middle, well at least I WAS!! LOL! Anyway, I think both are totally normal at my age, especially given today’s economy.
That bankcard, in some way reminds me of an umbilical cord. It was the link to a life dependent on someone else for survival. A life who’s resources where provided by another being. Today I decided to end the life that I’ve known for almost 24 years. I made the decision to no longer rely on my parents for back up or extra cushion. My safety net has been removed and now with my move to Nashville only 2days away, I’m in a position to learn to be completely dependent on God and the resources that He’s given me. I must manage my savings and I must be disciplined and a good steward. Of course I know that if ever there is a time of need, my parent’s will be there to help me, but I’m now in a position where I must handle my own totally!
So with ALL that said, today is a new day! I’m scared and nervous and I’m really hoping I don’t screw this thing up. At the same time I’m excited and I’m anticipating greatness because I am working towards being “ruler over many things” (Matthew 25:21).
Here’s YOUR personal life application :)
1 Peter 4:10 “Based on the fit they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.”
Although my particular story dealt with an issue of money and spending, the same issue can occur with a number of things in life. I feel the need to particularly reference time but you can fill in the blank with whatever your weakness/issue may be.
We spend hours of our days doing things that satisfy us, we’re on our facebook, myspace, twitter, watching television…all for hours at a time. I’m not gonna do the typical “how much of that time are you spending with God?” spill, but I am going to say that yes, it is important that we spend time with God, but not only that, we MUST spend time with others.
I just wanna challenge you to connect with someone. Not just on the surface, but for real, dig deep. Relationships are the most important, tangible thing we have here on earth and they are such a HUGE part of our purpose and existence. So reach out and become a part of someone’s life, like for real, for real. BE THERE! Find a mentee, a lost friend, a co-worker, anyone! Work to use your time to better some one else on the regular.
Tis all! Adios now!