It is that time of year for us at church...the time of year when we pledge what we will tithe next year. The letters have been mailed out from the church with our pledge cards, but also this year they included a handy flier that breaksdown percentages of tithing based on income from 2% to 15%.
Tithing is something that my parents used to make me do..I got an allowance and so much of it was supposed to go to church. I saw my mom write and tear off her check every Sunday. And until the past year or so I was kind of hit or miss with my tithing, if I remembered or was at church I would do it, if I wasn't then oh well. Along that same line, if I had a little extra in my check book the church may get something, but if I'd spent to much that week already (usually on nothing at all) then I didn't worry about writing a check or giving anything. And to be quite honest with you I can't really tell you what has drastically changed that I feel so different about it - but tithing for us is something we don't miss whether we are at church that week or not.
I think my change of heart comes from the fact that I feel like I'm much closer in my walk with God these days - not that I'm holier than thou or anything like that, but I feel so blessed with everything that I have and have been given that I feel like tithing to my church is just one small way that I can give back. I look back over my life and am able to see where God has blessed me throughout, and has either walked with me or carried me through hard times - and I truly believe now that when something is going on in my life that I can't sit back and do nothing to change or overcome it, I have a responsibility to action too, but that my life is always in God's hands. I will be provided for, so long as I am always trying my best, even if it is not in the way that I planned for. In some of my most desperate times when I feel like there is nothing left that I can do, it is so calming to just turn things over to God - know that you've done everything you can - and amazingly some how things are okay, like I said maybe not the way you wanted them to work out, but they are okay.
Anyways, back to tithing. Like it states in my little flier one of the great things of tithing, supposedly, is that it is 10% of your income. That doesn't mean you can't give more or that you will be struck down if you give less (trust me you won't cause I haven't been so far) but that is the generally rule of thumb. Of course, my question is this, is that supposed to be before the 500 billion is taken out in taxes of my paycheck or is that coming from what I take home every week? For this household, we base our budget, bills, and tithing off of what we bring home each week - although one day I want it to be off of what we truly make, we just aren't there right now. And even with that being said, we don't give our full 10% in money - I don't feel like we can right now. We try to make it up in other ways by donating our time, which is important, but realize that the church has financial needs to keep it running too. But that being said, we give a lot in comparison to our grocery budget (which is less a month than what we tithe to church), our gas budget (which is less also), and our entertainment budget (which is also less or non-existent however you want to look at it!). What we give - hurts! It is a conscious decision that we make every week to choose to give a little back to God where we have been given so much. Trust me it would be much easier and, in theory, a ton more fun to blow that money on ourselves - but just like everything else it is not ours we've only been blessed with it temporarily.
We have been so blessed by our family, our church family, and friends that is very easy to look around and be grateful for everything you see. What our church is challenging our members to do is look at what you've tithed in the past and challenge yourself to increase that, whether to the full 10% or atleast by 1%. For us, we are not able to bump up to the 10% and increasing any amount will stretch our budget that much further - but we ARE going to increase our tithe again because have we not been blessed more this year than last? We are still here on this beautiful earth, with now 2 amazing children, a wonderful marriage, a home, two jobs, an amazing family support system - so much more than so many other people have - so much to be thankful for - we can find a way to give a little more tithe to give back and give thanks.