Our Marriage Grew Stronger Despite Major Financial Difficulty
B & L, Sacramento Area, CA
Married in 1984
B & L were young when they married, 20 and 22, and they knew that God had brought them together. They waited 6 years before starting their family, knowing that they needed that time to build a solid foundation for their relationship, since they were so young. They made a commitment to attend a Couples Retreat annually, and they have made it their habit to pray nightly together. They had 3 children, and the years flew by.
After many years in the Bay Area, they moved to the Sacramento area. They sought a better place to raise children, and believed God opened the doors for this move. They found a beautiful house and everything clicked into place. Their house sold quickly in the Bay Area, and the new home was everything they’d hoped for. Even B’s job situation was worked out easily – he was able to be a telecommuter, and only had to drive in once a week for an overnight in the Bay Area.
After a year of telecommuting and settling into the new house and new neighborhood, B was laid off from his job in the Bay Area. The company laid off thousands of people, and B orchestrated his department’s lay off, including his own position.
That began the process of searching for employment in an area that is not known for “technology”. B’s skill set was unique to the Bay Area, and he had a hard time finding companies that even understood what he did. He considered consulting but found that difficult because his social and business network was in the Bay Area. After about 6 months of unemployment (and unemployment income, which is very insufficient) he landed a job with a startup company. That was great, but only lasted 5 months. The whole company was laid off when the funding ran out.
Two layoffs in one year left B & L wondering what they would do next. They prayed, and believed that God was leading them to start a business. Unfortunately, they spent much time and money focusing on a business concept that only produced marginal results. Out of devotion to each other they made decisions that lead them further into debt. In hindsight, these business decisions were compromises, but both of them made these compromises thinking the other needed the positive support. In reality, over a four year period they dug themselves into a very deep hole of debt.
B & L were at their darkest in the Spring of 2006. They were struggling to figure out a way to make the business profitable, they were out of resources, depressed, tired, very frustrated and the debt load was growing. B & L both had very dark thoughts of walking out, of leaving the family and the business. When they compared “notes” on what they were thinking and feeling, they found they had similar thoughts. But they knew those thoughts were not from God. The miracle through all of this was that they were still happily married. They loved each other and had grown closer together through this trial. They did not blame each other for the situation. They continued to work together, pray, trust God, and seek wisdom.
Their small group (Bible study group) had been very supportive, but a breakthrough came when their group gathered around them one weekend at a retreat, and helped them process and pray through the situation. The group discussion and prayer time lasted several hours. B & L view that weekend as a turning point in their lives. It began a series of events that helped them to refocus the business and make changes that started revenue coming in. A couple of Christian businessmen also helped B & L gain clarity about their situation. B & L made some key decisions and formulated a new business plan. Most importantly, they stopped making compromised decisions and started making decisions based on a clear God-given vision.
During the months that felt like a “dark time” they did some soul searching. They made some important discoveries.
B learned that he needed to be the leader and not just facilitate business decisions with the team. He needed to seek God’s vision for the business. A friend recommended a book called, “God is my CEO” by Larry Julian. This book and other books helped B take a very clear leadership step. He also stopped asking other businessmen for advice, but instead asked them to tell what they had done to be successful. By learning from the experiences of others he gained more clarity that way. Most importantly, B started to mold the business vision around his areas of passion and expertise. He began to view God as his CEO for the business.
L learned that her view of God and trials was incorrect. Through much prayer and study of James 1, she realized that God was allowing them to go through the trials in order to gain wisdom, and that every trial is an opportunity to grow. Her prayers had been, “God, get us through this, make it go away, let it be over soon.” She learned her prayers should be, “God give me wisdom and help me grow closer to you through this trial.” Her security needs could not be met in B or in the success (or failure) of the business. Her security is in the Lord.
Today, B & L have a solid business that is growing steadily, and they are working to pay down the debt. They continue to pray for wisdom in each situation before them, and trust God to supply what they need each month. Their marriage is stronger because they chose to face the obstacles before them together in God’s strength, instead of blaming each other and allowing the pain of financial hardship to split them apart.