Serving, Gratitude and Debt Payoff

I have to confess I’ve had a really crappy attitude this past couple of months. While I can’t go into details, I can tell you that last year was a really rotten year for us on a lot of levels. We had major family crises one after another, it seemed. Those crises, along with a crapload of home repairs that needed to be done (to the tune of nearly 15k), really set us back financially big time.

And on a lot of days, I’m still finding myself super ticked off about this.

Today is one of those days This week is one of those weeks. This month is one of those months. I’m just having a crappy attitude in general. I’m drowning in self-pity and even though this is not my normal “mode” I’m having a hard time digging out.

As I’ve struggled these past weeks to find a way to overcome this negative mindset, I remembered this morning about our serving night at church a couple of weeks ago. 10 days ago to be exact. And like the sun shining through the clouds after a storm, the despair lifted.

Our church, which we just started attending a couple of months ago, does a ministry called Manna Market. Many churches run this ministry. Basically what it is is somebody from the church goes to the local food shelf distribution center and picks up free food (donated by grocery stores because it’s too near the expiration date) for the needy in their church area. Then they distribute it at the church location to whomever in the area has a need.

But it’s more than that. Our particular Manna Market also serves a hot meal to all who come before the actual food distribution portion of the night begins. When we heard them announce that the second Friday in March was Manna Market Friday, we decided to help. Me and all four kids went as Rick had a prior commitment.

We got to church, helped set up the “store” in a way that makes it easy for guests to shop, and then sat down to partake of the delicious meal they had available before patrons arrived.

Then we all welcomed the guests, showed them what was available for dinner and everyone sat and talked and chatted with the guests, many of whom were regular attendees.

After that, the shopping began. I took my place in produce with another gal, while the kids took their place straight across from me in canned goods. The people lined up, smiles on their faces as they shopped for free so that they could have food for their families.

It was obvious by their appearances and their demeanor that a lot of these people lived a pretty tough life. We saw one older couple there with two young grandkids whom they were raising. Many other people from all different walks of life came to the event. All of them looked defeated. Struggling. Yet with a glimmer of hope in their eyes that there was indeed people who cared enough to help.

I eagerly served, smiled, talked and laughed with the people that came through – people who were excited to have fresh fruit and veggies that normally would have been out of budget.

I glanced often across the room at my beautiful children, who also smiled, laughed and talked encouragingly with those who came through their line.

As we worked through the evening, the thought came to me numerous times that, in spite of our less-than-perfect financial situation, we’ve got it pretty darn good. We never want for food to eat or for shelter. We are in good health. We get along.

Yes, our budget may be startlingly tight right now, but we’ve still got many, many more reasons to be joyful than we do to be drowning in self-pity.

So, I’ll pick myself up, dust off the gloom that’s worked so hard to hang over me these last few weeks and just be grateful – be thankful for the many, many blessings we have.

How do you dust off discouragement when paying off debt?


Image credit: Ben Faulding 


16 comments on “Serving, Gratitude and Debt Payoff

  1. Cultivating gratitude is the single most important quality in living a rich and meaningful life, and serving others is a great way to bring out gratitude in all of us. I hope that your generosity allows your gratitude to grow as you continue your debt payoff journey (and I feel certain it can only help your kids too).

  2. boy, Laurie, I’m right there with ya! There’s always grace when you stick with God. Thanks for all of your help last year, especially while going through your own trials. You were truly a gift from God to me. 🙂

  3. Great post!
    Discouragement is constantly getting to me and I do my best to remind myself of the bigger picture. One day we will be debt free and can live happily and help our family and others out there. It will all be worth it in the end!

  4. Laurie, this is exactly why you’re such a valuable part of the pf blogging community. For most people, turning things around financially is TOUGH, and it really helps to read about others struggling with their own tough times. To know “I’m not the only one going through this” is HUGE. That 15k in expenses truly sucks – but imagine facing it with your old financial patterns. And the image of you looking at your 4 children cheerfully serving those in need . . . Well, do you know how rare a treasure that is?

    1. Thank you so much, Ruth. Yes, I couldn’t stop smiling, seeing all of their beautiful faces so happily serving others. Priceless. 🙂

  5. I just watched a documentary about 1880’s frontier life (not Little House on the Prairie). I was surprised how tough they had it and only 1/3 of the homesteaders made it the full 5 years required to receive their land grant because of lack of food, weather, etc. That was only a 130 years ago.

  6. Thanks for sharing a great reminder. Didn’t realize you were having such a tough time. I know you’ve had your bumps, but you always seem positive and thoughtful of others, hard to image a cranky Laurie for a month. 🙂

    I’d always focus on my family when times were tough, they reminded me what I was fighting for, I don’t need more motivation than what was right there in my own four walls.

  7. Laurie, you’re so right! For me, gratitude and perspective REALLY help reframe my negative thoughts and moods. It’s so important for our mental and physical health, too.

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