Beyond Fear: Vulnerability and Grace in Our Financial Lives

Being vulnerable about personal finances can bring healing and hope

young woman talking in a circle of people

Two big passions in my life have been working with youth and personal finance. It may not seem like a combo that goes together, but for me, they have coexisted harmoniously as I have weaved in and out of jobs and volunteer roles. Of course, it has not always been perfect—youth Bible studies that ended in bored silence and missed bill payments—things that one thinks about years later, late at night. However, there are little moments that have kept me going. 

Car talk

I was leading a youth trip and had casually started a conversation with a young person who eagerly told me about their first car. They told me they were so proud at first as they had worked hard and saved up to purchase it, but that quickly faded to dismay as the car required very expensive repairs. We both shook our heads at the hard decision they had to make upon returning home. 

Later, the youth expressed thanks to me for taking the time to listen—and most importantly, just believing how they felt. When they tried talking about it before, other (hopefully well-intentioned) adults had just given advice to solve their problem or told them not to feel bad—i.e., “it’s just a car!” 

Gracious listening

When it comes to my work in the personal finance space, I have listened to many stories from folks who needed to be believed in the same way. Money is not always talked about freely like other topics, so struggling with money made them feel alone and thinking everyone else was doing it better. But that is not true—learning new skills can be hard and it takes time to get the hang of it. Over time, I have witnessed people grow in confidence and believe in themselves to manage money and achieve their goals. Believing we don’t have to do things right the first time can give us the encouragement and grace to keep going—to make mistakes—and to break things down into smaller steps, and try again.

Grace and vulnerability

A wise friend once helped me see that God does not shy away from doing things more than once. God sent angels twice to Elijah for food and drink before he was strong enough to travel. God sent Jesus to earth to experience love and loss, and tell stories about being lost and then found. In Mark 8, Jesus healed a man in Bethsaida twice—after the first time, Jesus asked him, “Can you see anything?” The man replied, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Now, it’s not that Jesus was bad at miracles, but the fact that Jesus asked a question, the man answered honestly, and Jesus believed him to do it again is pretty powerful. 

My faith is encouraged and emboldened by all the stories I’ve mentioned. They help me give and receive grace. It is scary to be vulnerable, and I am glad that God is always with me. A few years ago, I ended up with a large medical bill and it was overwhelming. I was discouraged and upset. On the bill there was a reminder that financial assistance was available. At first, I ignored it and told myself, “It’s just a bill! I can solve this problem!” But I ended up making the call and asking for help. What was large and overwhelming at first was reduced by half, and the rest split up into smaller monthly payments. My personal “walking trees” turned into a kind person at the medical billing office reassuring me that there was help available. 

In times where we feel scarcity—with our time, money, brain space—it may feel scary to be honest about what we see. Perhaps you see debt increasing, the cost of living rising, your situation isolating. What would it look like for you to find a trusted person to share your concerns with? Or perhaps you see extra available for giving, time for volunteering, space to invite others in. What would that look like for you to be a support for someone else? Sometimes we take turns being both!

May we all move forward with confidence and boldness as beloved children of God. 

  • Kim Miller

    Kim Miller is a financial coach and educator. She is a former summer camp mom and youth coordinator for middle and high school youth. She enjoys time with family, reading, and a good pun.

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