Friday, February 7, 2014

Don't Let Curveballs Become Excuses

Eric and I are drawing very near to the end of a big chapter in our marriage and family life. It's a part of our life that many of you have joined us on for a while as we've blogged and shared the ups and downs over the past few years. We are SO excited to be debt free soon and ready to move on to new things!

It's not time for a celebration just yet, but knowing we are so close to the end has been causing me to think about the last five years or so and ask myself the question, "What have I learned through all of this?" Because let's face it...reaching a goal is usually just as much about the journey as it is about the destination. It's cliched, but it's true.

Before we were married, Eric and I had a plan. We were going to work our tails off, as quickly as possible, to get rid of our student loans so that we could eventually start a family on the right foot. We were fresh out of college and ready to do whatever it took. With two incomes and just a few expenses it should have only taken us about two years to realize our goal.

And then life happened.

The economy tanked. Babies quick succession. :) We lost an income and gained three kids in less than four years. As if baby bills weren't enough, it seemed like we were always getting hit with more than our fair share of huge expenses. There were surgeries, multiple root canals, exploding ovens, failing appliances and technology, ER visits...we're talking bills with several 00's on the end. As soon as we thought we could breath a little, "Surprise! You're having another baby!" or "Surprise! Your car is about to die!"

It isn't like anything we faced was obscenely out of the ordinary, but there were many setbacks. No matter how diligent our planning, no matter how careful we were, life was constantly throwing us curveballs. Any one of those curveballs were enough to take the wind out of our sails and make us feel like we were never going to reach the shore. Any one of those setbacks could have become excuses to give up.

What did I learn over the past five-and-a-half years? I learned not to let curveballs become excuses.

I learned that it's not "if" something is going to knock you back a step, it's "when." I learned that the most solid plans we can create are not bullet-proof. And I learned that those things are true in so many more areas of life than just personal finance.

Everyone has a goal of some sort. Weight-loss goals, money goals, education goals, family goals, career goals...I'm not sure a breathing human being can exist wholly without something to look forward to. Whatever your goal is...right now... remember that it is impossible to journey any road without hitting a few bumps along the way. Knowing that from the very beginning is probably the best weapon in your arsenal of fighting back discouraging voices when they come...because they will come.

Do not let curveballs become excuses. 

When you can anticipate that challenges will be coming your way, they become much less scary when they finally do arrive at your doorstep. By the time baby #3 came along, Eric and I just had to laugh about our life. I mean, seriously. :) By then we were so used to having our plans turned upside down that it became a running joke of "What could possibly happen next?!"

Our goal has taken us over twice as long to complete as we originally thought that it should have. (And given our track record it wouldn't shock us if something crazy happened in the next month to set us back further, haha.) But we just keep plugging away, slowly but surely, never losing sight of the end. You know the "tortoise and the hare" thing? Yeah. Turns out that tortoise really did know what he was doing.

We aren't perfect, and we're never going to make all of the right decisions. Some of our setbacks were totally our own doing, too. If there is another lesson that we have learned in our marriage so far, it's humility. Sometimes our worst decisions started from the very beginning - without prayerfully seeking God's will instead of our own. Haha, would have saved us a lot of headaches. :)

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

^^Yup. We are living proof.

I have learned that obstacles are not endings, they are just plot twists. They are no reason to give up. While I certainly don't know everything, God has definitely taught me a few things through this first chapter of our marriage. If I were asked to sum up our experience and pass on advice for anyone else standing at the beginning of a journey, it would be this:

1. Plan prayerfully.
2. Keep a sense of humor.
3. And don't ever let curveballs become excuses to stop you.

You can do it.
Happy Friday!


Sarah said...

So proud of you Roberts!!! And you are honest to goodness why we are almost out d debt too. Ahhh!! So exciting.

And I completely get you with this curve balls. Especially those little ones with 10 fingers & 10 toes ☺

Adrien said...

Thanks, Sarah!! So happy for you guys, too - that's great! It's a dream come true! :) And yes, wouldn't trade those curveballs for anything, haha.

Cassie said...

You guys are quite the inspiring couple. Keep up the great work!


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