The Windows of Heaven
THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN
By Erika Sargent
Life as a newlywed is supposed to be filled with bliss.
You’re starting a whole new adventure filled with endless possibilities, and the best part is that you get to experience that bright future with your best friend.
At least that’s what I imagined my life as a newlywed would be.
My husband Steen and I were married on December 23, 2016. It was a beautiful day in New Zealand (we eloped and were married in the Hamilton, New Zealand LDS temple), but despite the paradise surrounding us, we had a little black cloud hanging over the day.
Two weeks before our wedding, my husband unexpectedly lost his job.
There was still bliss and excitement, but we started our life as newlyweds with a little question mark.
How long would Steen be unemployed?
As soon as we were back from the honeymoon, Steen started job hunting. He sent out applications, was called into a handful of interviews, but the only notifications we received were that the positions were filled by other candidates.
Then in May, the company I worked for informed me that they were dealing with financial struggles and that my position as marketing director would be downgraded from a full-time to a part-time position. We wouldn’t be able to live on the hourly wage they were offering, so I joined my husband on the job hunt.
We thought it would be a quick period of underemployment (my company agreed to keep me on part-time until I found a new job). We were both strong college graduates with work experience and references to recommend us to our perspective industries. But as the days turned into weeks turned into months, that little question mark from our wedding day split into a hundred big ones.
Would we be able to continue paying the mortgage on the house we recently built?
With no income or health insurance, how long would we have to wait to have kids (we were already 28 when we married)?
How long could we continue to dip into our savings before the accounts ran dry?
Would our fledgling marriage suffer from this extended period of intense stress, frustration, worry, and disappointment?
Throughout this time Steen and I continued to pay our tithing. Everything from unemployment checks to my hourly wage to birthday money had ten percent taken out before they went to the bank. It was all we could do to hold fast to the promises in Malachi.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse…and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3: 10
We were praying, and fasting, and paying tithing. We were faithful and diligent, so where was our overflowing of blessings? At this point we would have been happy with even a trickle of the blessings we sought after. But the job inquiries went unanswered and the interviews led to polite rejections.
Despite the seemingly endless employment disappointments, we continued to pay our tithing. There was never a moment of hesitation or questioning when it came to that ten percent.
It didn’t matter how many bills were on the counter; tithing was paid first.
It didn’t matter that our beautiful little home was filled with family and Craigslist second (or third or fourth) hand furniture; tithing was paid first.
It didn’t matter that our newlywed date nights consisted of rewatching old DVDs; tithing was paid first.
Tithing was paid first, because it was a practice that Steen and I were both raised on since we were children. For us, this financial trial wasn’t as much a test of our faith as it was our obedience. We knew what God asked of us financially. Who were we to ignore his commandment just because we were facing a difficult time?
It would have been easy to justify skipping a paycheck or two to cover a mortgage payment (or even temporarily pay five percent for a period), but Steen and I knew that God can’t be tricked. We continued to pay our full tithing to be honest with and obedient to Him. Plus, we wanted the full blessings, and we knew that we couldn’t expect full blessings from partial obedience.
It wasn’t until August that I received not one job offer, but two. Steen went back to school to study web development. The windows were opened. The blessings did come.
It took almost a year and a half to reach the point where we are financially back on our feet and able to start contributing to our depleted savings accounts. We are both full-time employees at companies that value our work and that we enjoy being a part of. We are expecting our first child just before our second wedding anniversary. We not only survived but grew closer during a stressful first year of marriage.
I know there will continue to be little question marks that cast shadows over our family from time to time, but I have no doubt that God adheres to all of His promises. His principles and promises are clear. It’s the timeline that we have to learn to follow by faith.