**This blog post was originally posted on the Women’s Life Blog August 26, 2014.
Hello ladies of SEBTS! If this is your first semester or your 10th plus semester, if you are a student or the wife of a student, it is joy to have you be a part of the SEBTS family!
I have been asked to share with you a bit about adjusting to life in seminary on a limited income, a topic I have personally experienced these 10 years. My desire is to approach this with you from a biblical standpoint, not a worldly one. I also want you to understand that I struggle with this as well, and come to you as a sister still growing in my journey.
As I take you to scripture, I want you to consider how and why the Lord has brought you (and your family) to SEBTS. You each know the journey that got you here, and often times what you had to give up, so take heart in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Note it states “every need,” NOT every want! With this being noted, how do we do it on 1 income, often less income than we are accustomed to? Here is a list of suggestions that I have found helpful over the years:
1) Be careful not to compare yourself to friends or acquaintances outside of seminary life. There will be things you may have to give up that you are accustomed to doing/having (clothes shopping, pedi/manis, decorating, cable tv, coffee shops, gym memberships, etc.).
2) Get rid of distractions that cause you to be envious or jealous: magazines, catalogs, online ads, going “window shopping” when there is no money to be spent on extras, to name a few.
3) Look for resourceful ways to shop wisely: grocery store sale ads, couponing, Aldi, grocery lists to prevent impulse buying, eat before grocery shopping, SEBTS Share Shop, Goodwill and consignment stores, Wake Forest Buy/Sell/Trade (on Facebook), etc.
4) Try to avoid use of credit cards unless you know you will pay them off monthly.
5) Be resourceful with others you meet: swap childcare for date nights, borrow or loan items (mixers, pans, cars!, etc.), jewelry or clothing swaps (great fun!), learn or teach sewing, cooking, meal planning, utilize the SEBTS workout facility in the Ledford Center.
So very much of this is based on learning to be content, not anxious, in the place the Lord has called us to be. Philippians 4 addresses many of these heartfelt feelings. Go to this passage and be encouraged by what Paul endured then look at where you are in light of his circumstances and attitude. For me personally, this is very convicting and helpful in keeping my heart and attitude aligned with Christ. Contentment begins in the heart, so above all guard your heart, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7. Learn to be satisfied, pleased, cheerful, remembering who you are to be dependent on: Christ and Christ alone.
I too understand when the “bottom line” does not add up and you wonder how you will be provided for with payments, food, clothes, basic needs of daily life. Do not sit in your despair. Reach out in prayer to the Lord first, go to your spouse in humility, not in anger for being in this situation (especially if you are coming from abundance), and let your church family know if you are in need. As the body of believers, we are to care for each other, not out of pride but out of love, “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble” Philippians 4:14.
If you take nothing else from this, please take the fact that you are not alone in this journey through seminary. There are many who have gone before you, and many who are with you at this time. Encourage one another, get out and meet ladies and rejoice in what the Lord is doing in your lives (not what you have had to give up!), and above all, lean into Christ as you support your husband in his obedience to prepare for ministry in the days, weeks, and years ahead. It is a journey very much worth taking!