Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘self employed’

The unbearable silliness of being

I can't believe I work this hard to be this poorToday is not a great day. In fact, it’s the tail end of a not-a-great-fortnight, following hard on the heels of a not-great-month before.

What makes it so “not-great”, you ask? The simplest, silliest of things: cold, hard cash. Or rather, the lack thereof.

Not too long ago I was having a heart-to-heart with a good friend, and I was explaining how lucky I felt to have such simple problems. Really, our only challenge is a lack of cash flow. We have a wonderful, happy family. We rent a beautiful home in an amazing part of the world, for a very reasonable monthly fee. We have great health (sorta), and no scandals or drama to speak of.

But today I am less enthusiastic about our so-called “simple problem”.

To tell the truth, I’m downright despondent.

The essence of it is that I am the breadwinner, and I haven’t been paid (pretty much at all) by my clients in two months. There’s no reason for it, bar a poor economy, and the unfortunate knock-on effect of my clients not having been paid by their clients, who haven’t been paid by their clients, and so on. It’s not the result of non-delivery or poor workmanship on my part. In fact, they’re delighted with my work, referring me to all their friends and associates, and apologising profusely for the delayed payment. They love my work! They just can’t pay for it. Which would be okay …

But it’s all of them. All at once.

And we have no buffer. There are no credit cards or overdrafts or provident funds or savings accounts we can raid. We’ve even exhausted all the Banks-of-Dad we’ve ever had access to.

Yes, I hear you gasp out there in Internetland. How very heedless and poorly planned. Unwise. Foolhardy. Stupid.

We weren’t always like this. We had savings and budgets (for the next twelve years!) and planny-plans. We had medical aid and insurance (household, vehicle and life). We had money set aside for education. We had in-store credit and bank credit cards. We owned cars and houses. (Well, A house. But still. We owned it). And even when we ventured into self-employment it was far less seat-of-your-pants than it sounds. We had those savings I mentioned. We had resources. I did my research, I had my client base. I had another of those shiny planny-plans.

And I had faith. Scads of it. I believed my friends when they sold me businesses that would make us rich. (Free advice, kids: no one ever sells a SUCCESSFUL business. Why would they? If it’s for sale, step away slowly and tear up that cheque). I believed that our combined experience and wisdom and determination and work ethic and sheer grit would never fail us. I believed in our support systems, and the kindness of human nature. And I believed that, by doing my bit for God, He’d provide for me. Now, to be fair, the Bible doesn’t actually teach that. But churches do. Pastors do. Serve in Sunday School, pay your tithe and be faithful whenever the doors are open or there’s a job to be done, and you can’t but be blessed. It’ll all work out.

Pah.

That approach leaves you over-extended, over-committed, burnt-out and bitter.

As it stands, I work all the time. From sun up to midnight. It never seems to end, Monday to Sunday. And I just can’t believe I have to work this hard to be this poor. For certain, I am doing something horribly wrong. Something foolish. Something unwise. But what in the world is it? No one seems to know. People offer platitudes: “It’ll come right.” “April is never a good time for small business.” “The economy is bad.” “The fault is with the customer, not with you.”

Pah. Again.

It’s not even as if our expenses are enormous, and they’d be even less without the sea-anchor of debt we’ve chained to ourselves in the last few business collapses. Having closed three businesses already makes me reluctant to close a fourth – and anyway, how would I support us if I did? I feel like Ross Gellar in Friends: serial divorcer, although the consequences are somewhat more devastating. (At least, so it seems to me).

So, if anyone out there has any ideas on how to get clients to pay, or get paying clients for what is generally acknowledged to be really great content creation, or how to make ends meet AND get sleep AND spend time with my kids, I’m all ears.

Seriously.

 

Lesson #16: If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I have been struggling with my workload and time management. I felt resentful that I had to do so much of the housework, the home education, and earn a living on top of that. My beleaguered soul cried out, over and over, “It’s too much! I can’t do it!” I started to notice, more and more, that the refrain was changing to, “I shouldn’t have to do it.”

Angry and bitter, I poured my heart out to the Lord. I apologised for my attitude and asked Him to change it. I explained the predicament and promised that I would do as He told me, since I was already learning that feeling like doing something often follows actually doing something in faith.

I was led to two key passages. The first one is in Titus 2:3-5, where women are encouraged to be “keepers at home.” I prayed about this and understood that the Lord has a clear role for me in my house. It is my job to keep things health, clean and in order. What’s more, I love to do it and feel fulfilled when I do. I do need to train my children to keep their own spaces neat and tidy (that’s part of my job as their mother, educator and mentor), and I can lovingly encourage Papa Bear to do the same. But ultimately, it really is my job and I need to “do it all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31

The second passage which keeps coming to mind is Proverbs 31. We all know the story of a virtuous woman – so hard to find. She does her husband good and not evil all the days of his life. His heart safely trusts in her. I have been such a failure in these areas and I confessed that to God. My continual prayer is that He will bring this passage to mind before I cross the line and sin against my man, and so far He has. Not that I’ve always heeded His gentle admonitions …

The other thing about this virtuous woman is that she has a number of enterprises on the go. She buys and sells cloth and land. She plants and harvests. She makes clothes. She sells the goods she’s made and she gives generously to the poor. She works late and rises early. She makes sure her staff have work to do, and that her family have food and clothing. Because of her industry, her husband is well respected and confident to appear in public, in a role of importance. He knows he will never be ashamed by his wife’s actions, words or tales. In fact, he blesses her and teaches his children to do the same.

I have a lot to do but I am in no way as accomplished or enterprising as this lady. And my attitude to it all stinks. I was behaving like a spoiled child, and I realised that we have the assurance from God that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

The things I have to do at the moment are all things that I really do have to do. It’s not a matter of poor time management or an unfair allocation of roles and responsibilities. This verse (above) means, in essence, that if I have to do it, then I can do it, because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13

Realising this truth (on a daily basis) has encouraged me enormously. I have come to see each challenge as an opportunity … but more on that later.

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