At the start of 2012, I made a New Year's Resolution to give tithing a shot and I wrote about it here:
The Catholic Mom's Corner: A Resolution to Tithe 10% of our Net Income
It's been 6 months already, and I wanted to post an update on what has changed since the beginning of the year.
As I explained in the original post, we were pretty stingy with the collection basket and I wanted to challenge myself to become a more giving person in this regard. Well, it has been an interesting journey. I'll give you the short version:
* When I first brought it up with my husband, we got into several huge arguments about tithing. He felt that we were not in the position to give 10%. (Lots of home repairs, many expenses, etc.) I felt very strongly about doing this.
* In good conscience, I could not move forward without his support, so I decided to tithe 10% of my income and let him put the envelopes in the collection basket on Sundays, so we were "in it together" so to speak. (I realize technically this is not giving 10% of ALL of our income, but even so, to contribute 10% of mine, is a BIG deal. This level of giving was entirely new to us.)
* We did 10% of my net income and 10% of our federal and state income tax return. (The tax return tithe was the hardest check to write... it was really difficult and resulted in another argument with my spouse. He did agree to put it in the church basket, though.)
* Overall, if felt really good to be contributing. It's a very traditional church that has been around since the early 1900's and is struggling financially. If it were to close, we would lose a major source of orthodoxy and a very beautiful and holy church.
* I stopped being so worried over money. There was never any extra, but it seemed as if things usually just took care of themselves and there was always "just enough to get by". We have started using more coupons and cooking at home more. It has helped me in many ways to "not sweat the small stuff". Where I used to get very uptight if I lost $5, for example, now it is not as big of a deal because I would just be giving it the church anyway, it is "only money".
* I think we have a greater acceptance that we will never "have enough". There is a certain longing in our hearts to always acquire more, have more, do more, be more. As we grow closer to God, it has helped us to get our priorities in order. Heaven is more important than amassing material objects or a lot of money. (Heck, we still want the money and the nice things, but we are getting A LOT BETTER.)
* Can't remember where I heard this, but it is true, "If you can't live off of 90% of your income, then you can't live off 100%"...
* I am trusting more in God that he will provide our family with what we need and not try to control everything that happens around me.
* One phenomenal thing happened immediately after we started tithing. A rental property (duplex) that I bought a long time ago that has been a very huge thorn in our side (think: negative equity, bad part of town, no decent renters, some really bad evictions, major repairs costing tens of thousands of dollars, can't sell it and can't refi, don't want to foreclose...) We were able to get a tenant to rent out both sides, and not only that, but he has been paying the rent on time every month (this is a major first!!!) and he also offered to cut the grass on his own. (We are supposed to do that per the lease, but my husband recently had a 2nd major back surgery and we were very worried about this maintenance aspect - however, this tenant just offered to do it out of the blue.) I really feel like this is an answer to some serious prayers. God really really was looking out for us. If we didn't get this tenant in there when we did, it would have cost us an additinal $1100 / month to cover expenses, and financially, there is no way we could have managed this with our new baby. Not really sure if it has anything to do with tithing or not, but I do feel that there was some serious divine intervention going on.
* Now is the challenge. We have a third child to pay for day care and my husband just went back to school to get more teacher's credits and the school expenses are huge. We are carrying a hefty credit card balance for the first time in a while and the question is, do we tithe this month, or do I start to pay off the credit card? I am not sure how I am going to handle this yet, but am prayerfully considering what to do.
* So, that's the update. Overall, it has been a great experience and we will continue to grow in this area and help share our blessings with our church and with others.