It’s so cliché, but I’ll say it: I LOVE Christmas. Every year, without fail, the feelings I had as a kid well up inside. And every year on Christmas Eve, I feel a sense of contentment and peace. Every dang year. For lots of reasons.
Like Christmas tree lights. I LOVE Christmas tree lights. …and I HATE stringing them on our tree. This hasn’t always been the case. I grew up with those fat multi-colored Christmas tree lights. (Warning: they’re SUPER hot to the touch.) And every year, I hooked about 50 of those bad boys to our tree, sat back, and with a little mug of eggnog in hand, watched them glow.
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When I married my wife, I was introduced to a new tree-lighting style: wrapping each individual tree branch with small, white lights. Hundreds of lights. Nope – thousands of lights. Literally. I mean…my Father-in-Law’s trees are works of art. And my wife grew up loving his trees. And Christmas. And I’m open to new ideas. So, I learned a new style.
A painstaking, tedious, sap-laden…and beautiful-when-it’s-done style.
Every year it takes me about a week to string each branch of our natural, un-shaped, 9 ft. Charlie Brown-esque Fraser Fir. Minimum 1,200 lights. I maxed out at 2,000 one year. True story.
And every Christmas Eve, I sit back. I gaze at the lights. I take a few deep, stress-free breaths. And I feel content. And filled with peace. I love it.
This past weekend I had a thought: Christmas tree lights are very much like the money story my wife and I are living. I mean, we both had our ways of doing money before we were married. And when we married, we both were introduced to new ideas of how to handle money. And it took us a few years to figure out that how we were doing money was really messed up. And stressful.
So, we went to Financial Peace University at our Church. (We actually called it Financial War because of the ‘discussions’ we had throughout the course.) It was horrible. Until we looked at each other and realized we approach money in two TOTALLY different ways. And then I understood the strain and stress our debt was placing on our relationship. So, we aligned on a plan to get rid of our debt. And as we paid down our balances, we realized our relationship felt different. We felt more free. Free to laugh. Free to smile. Free to raise our eyebrows instead of furrowing them. Free to focus on what God was calling us to in our marriage. And we found ourselves experiencing life. Together.
I can’t explain it any other way. Because that’s exactly what happened.
Just like those Christmas tree lights, our money takes work. SO much work. And the work isn’t done quickly. It takes time. And a shared vision. And alignment. BTW, sometimes my wife and I don’t do the work. And we have those stress-filled ‘discussions’ again.
But when we approach money as one team, we’re able sit back, hold hands, sip a little eggnog…and look at the twinkling story God is writing in our lives. And breathe deep, content breaths. With confidence. And peace. And love.
And that’s a Christmas Eve feeling we want to experience every day of the year.
Okay, enough about tree lights. Let’s talk about you. You made it here. Somehow. Which means the idea of living a different kind of love & money story means something…even if it’s a little bit of something…to you.
So – great work. Seriously. You’re thinking differently. You’re clicking and reading further about living a life where money isn’t a barrier to living with confidence, contentment, and generosity. To not letting things like money, and the stress that it can cause, get in the way of loving God and each other. And that’s a thing. A really big thing. For you. For your relationships. For how God is working in and through you to make this world a better place. For all of us.
Keep clicking. Keep reading. Keep learning. And keep doing something. Keep stringing the lights on the love & money trees in your life. Because when you stop for a second – and hold your significant other’s hand – and you look at the results of the work that’s been done, you can rest. Like…really rest. And breathe deep, content breaths. And be filled with the confident peace that you’re living a beautiful, twinkling life. With God. And each other.
We call that Living Brightly.