One thing my husband and I have never fought about, or at least not enough to be a blip on the fight-o-meter, is finances. We make mistakes together, we make wise decisions together; we coast somewhere in the middle together. Somehow this area is one that we agree on in most ways. When it’s time to do the budget we’ve worked out a system: I sit down with the bills and list everything out. We then sit together and talk about what needs I might have missed. We agree on everything and then I pay the bills. It works. No one person is completely responsible, and if we make a bad choice, we’re in it together. We rarely buy anything individually without discussing it first.
Except for that one time.
I was so angry at my husband.
We were not doing well and I felt hurt and vulnerable. What is that verse? In your anger do not sin?
My actions weren’t necessarily sinful, but my heart wasn’t right which is basically the point, isn’t it?
Mr. Riehl and I were just starting our very hard journey and I made a conscious decision:
There is no way I am dealing with this in my old, frumpy clothes.
I took my girls shopping while he was at work. I opened a store credit card and shopped my heart out. (Don’t get too stressed: I am not a clothes horse so my rebellion was pretty minor). When Mr noticed my outfit the next day, he asked if it was new and I gave him a very clipped, “Yup.”
Mature, I know. I am the Queen.
I did eventually apologize and he said he understood. He had set aside money for my birthday anyway, so we paid off the card pretty quickly and moved on. But still, when I wear those particular clothes, I feel my sadness and rebellion wrap around me again. I wear the pain all over again. Poetically enough they have never fit quite right. And our problems were certainly not eased by my clothing choice. I was dressed up on the outside–unraveling on the inside.
My sister is constantly telling me about her amazing thrift store finds. I have poked around those stores here and there and never found anything worth calling her to brag about. Until I heard the secret of thrift store shopping: you need to be patient, go often, and be willing to walk away empty handed. My first score was two mugs that are ugly as sin and I love them. I have numerous Instargram photos featuring my #uglybrownmug obsession and those little $.99 treasures sold me on thrift stores.
Earlier this week, Mr. Riehl had a day off so we went shopping for some things he needed. While he didn’t find a single thing on his list, in my random perusing I found a shirt and two pairs of pants. And I spent less than $5 total. Say what?
It may be cheesy, but I’ve been thinking on those two shopping trips all week.
The one where the sky was the limit on what I wanted to buy. Where outfits were arranged on mannequins for me and picking something in my size was easy.
The one where I was swallowing the bitter pill of guilt and rebellion and sadness and pain, knowing that this spree was not going to make my heart stop aching. The one where I paid way too much for something that would fade and tear and wear out.
Then there was the other trip. The one with my family calling out to one another across the store, holding up ridiculous shirts, and winking at each other. Laughing. Rifling through the layers of–let’s face it: yuck clothes–to find the good stuff. Being surprised by precious finds.
What is really the big difference between the two? Yes, of course, the price, the caliber of clothing, the way you feel in each store, etc. But really, the difference was my heart. Somewhere between the fancy store and the thrift store Jesus got a hold of me in a new way. He let me pout for a good long time until one day it was enough. He wrapped me in that amazing love that only He can and I heard Him when He said, “You are mine. I have this in My hands. This isn’t about you or even him, it’s about Me. It always has been and always will be.”
Amazing how much life you can handle when you understand that all of life is meant to glorify God.
I had Mr. Riehl take a picure of me in one of the thrift store outfits the other day. The lighting is bad and I am uncomfortable with pictures of myself, but I wanted the moment documented.
The moment where a $3.04 outfit symbolized a changing season for me.
A season where I embrace forgiveness because I recognize that I need to be–and have been– forgiven.
A season where I understand that I have done much in little things over the years to hurt my husband. This marriage thing really does go both ways.
A season where Mr. Riehl and I are careful with our words, our time, our finances, and our goals.
A season where laughter rings through the house because we choose to laugh, to see God’s blessing in the joy instead of whining about our pain.
A season where we are patient with one another when laughter is too hard and the tears are too close. Because we are human and those days come.
A season where I finally believe that my husband loves me and is here to stay.
A season where I understand that even if he didn’t, my Savior lives and loves and is for me and will never leave me or forsake me. And that’s really all that matters.
A season where I am patiently sorting through life. Rifling through the muck because it’s necessary to finding the hidden treasures.
A season where our trash, our sin, our yuck is transformed, erased– abolished by God’s goodness.
A season where His grace is enough, His mercy is new every morning, and His love for His children is overwhelmingly abundant.
A season where I understand that I am one of His.
It may be ridiculous to you to compare God’s goodness with a thrift store shopping trip. Please understand: His very best is higher than anything I can wrap my head around. But His ways are not like mine and I have to sift through what this world tells me is good. I need to go to Him, His word to find true riches. His riches are free – to any who ask.
I serve a thrift store Jesus.
I am the filth.
He came to my level, inhaled my stink, and didn’t turn me away. He peeled away my faults and weaknesses. Tossed away my sin.
Paid too high a price for such an unworthy item. For His glory.
Amen and Hallelujah!
B.D. Riehl is the author of The Earth is Full and The Heavens Are Telling, both available here.