Today’s guest post is from Shaylah Coogan from There Once Was This Girl, where she shares her life-changing story about her laundry room and choices that helped fix her attitude.
I am not particularly proud to admit this, but I had a bit of a breakdown this past weekend.
It was the last weekend of Spring Break, and I had the morning to the evening of every day planned out. I was doing the breakfast dishes Friday morning, and as I opened the cabinet below our kitchen sinks, I noticed water where it shouldn’t be. I pulled out the dish-washing detergent and some other junk I had in there. Lo and behold everything was covered in water. Not only that, but the wood cabinets and the back wall had really soaked in the water draining from the sink…or I should say not draining through the pipes as it should.
The sink, the pipes, the faucet…all old. We had a small leak at the faucet for some time now that we became comfortable with–ignoring since it wasn’t really causing any damage. And about a year ago we noticed a few drips from the pipes below, but it was nothing a bit of patch work couldn’t fix up. We should have known better that small, simple signs of damage are actually signs of impending doom to your budget.
Oh the budget! I can’t very well leave that part out. My husband and I have been on a kick for a few years now of paying off our debt. We are making much headway with the exception of the house, two credit cards and my glorious student loan (I used the word “glorious” in an extremely sarcastic tone in order to refrain from the other words I would like to use). In order for us to reach our financial goals, we stay on a fairly tight budget and it works! For a good portion of the year, we are a one-income household which is nothing new to me as a former single mom.
So over the years, I have learned to stretch a dollar in many, many ways.
Like using coupons, menu planning, stockpiling, creative cooking and freezing and also finding ways to cut costs around our home and in everyday expenditures. This gives us more money for the fun things to do as a family, vacations and saving money. We pay cash for things and if we don’t have the cash then guess what? We don’t buy it. It’s a simple philosophy that really works but really took some getting used to on my part.
I was a financial mess (did you think I’d say guru?!) as a single mom. I didn’t know how to budget or save and I seemed to make dumb mistake after dumb mistake with my hard-earned money. My philosophy was if I don’t have the money to pay the bill AND I don’t see the bill then the bill doesn’t exist. Don’t judge me….I never claimed to be the smartest mom in the world especially when full of stress and anxiety. For me single motherhood created this massive and overwhelming amount of stress that many times I couldn’t see the forest for the trees…if you know what I mean.
So…God blessed me with a budgeting genius for a husband. Funny how He knows just what I need.
Lets go back about two hours prior to the “kitchen catastrophe”. We are halfway through the month, the budget was already set and we had a trip planned in there for the end of March. As I was checking my emails, I had two emails reminding me of two different upcoming invoices due at the end of this month. One was a complete surprise to me and the other I had forgotten about. So needless to say, neither were budgeted for. The stress, anxiety and past emotions from my years as a single mom were starting to fill up the machine that releases my tears. I fought back telling myself that these are things to not worry about. Rely on God and give Him my stress, anxiety and worry. And I did…and it worked. Thank you Jesus.
“Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7
The only way I can make sense of what happened next is that the enemy heard my voice give this worry to God. The enemy felt my mind erase my past experiences and emotions and felt me relax in peace of His presence. An hour later and we have a kitchen disaster.
I didn’t panic or stress out. At least not right away. At first it looked as though it was an easy fix then we discovered that the previous owners shoddy repairs and cheapness topped by our band-aids now meant a brand new sink, facet and plumbing. I think many women might get excited about that prospect. And I would have, IF the expense had been planned for, budgeted and saved for. I began to think about the weekend plans wasted, the budget ruined, money gone and my mind quickly took a left turn and hurdled into my past struggles. If only I could run that fast AWAY from those thoughts. I lost my “Christ center” as I like to call it. It’s my stillness where only He can calm the waves and helps me weather my storms.
With my “Christ center” far, far away, I became short-tempered with everyone. Now I was the one ruining the weekend. This was spiraling out of my control.
So I went to the one place where I was certain and with out a doubt, guaranteed to be alone with my tears, my anxious thoughts and worries. A place where I could attempt to restore Christ at my center.
The laundry room.
No one touches that room. I often wonder, do they even know how to find it? Everyone goes out of their way to avoid the laundry room at all costs for fear of me popping my head out to say “hey come help me.” So it’s become my sanctuary…all that’s missing is a comfy chair. I don’t like to break down especially in front of others. I refuse to be weak, is what I began to tell myself. Once those thoughts passed and my toughness was breaking through my tears, I realized this was the enemy at work again and was pulling me into a prideful mindset that kept me in trouble so many years ago.
I remembered the Lord said “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now shall it spring forth; shall you not know it?” – Isaiah 43:18-19
The reminder of my past financial mistakes and the enormous consequences of those mistakes were creating roadblocks in my mind, once again adding distance from God. He tells me in this verse that in order to look forward with joy in all things (even a small kitchen disaster), I must first let go and not dwell on my past. Doing so will keep my focus on my past failures and the emotional turmoil of those failures and off of what God has in store for me now.
I felt as though God was telling me it is okay. This is not a big deal. You are stirring up old emotions and worries that have no place here. My acceptance of this truth caused me to turn to leave my place of refuge and in walks my husband. Straight into the dreaded laundry room to hug me and say this is not a big deal. Don’t worry.
God is so awesome.
This “new thing” God suddenly sprang on us was lots of time together focused on solving a problem. We messed up the plumbing and install a few times, learned from our mistakes (thank you YouTube!) and yes it messed up our budget a bit but that’s okay. If there is one huge thing I have learned from my single motherhood days is that worry and peace cannot coexist and that every minute given to me each day is filled with choices. Choices of peace, prayer, worship and thankfulness which bring me closer to Him. Or choices of worry, stress, anger, resentment and anxiety to push me further away from Him. It’s an easy choice.
Shaylah Coogan is a Christ loving, 40 year old mom of two and a wife to a very patient and loving man. As a former single mom, she has been following her purpose and calling by providing encouragement, support and guidance to other single moms in hopes that none of these amazing women have to live a life on the verge of breaking. Find her at her blog, There Once Was This Girl, or on Facebook.