Money is Spiritual: “Vow or Curse of Poverty?”

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I have to tell you a story.

When I was about 25 years old I experienced a cataclysmic spiritual awakening. You can read all about it in my book Questions are the Answer. It’s pretty fascinating. Anyway, this turned me onto a whole new path starting with Henri Nouwen, then Thomas Merton, then the mystics and saints of not only Christianity but other religions, such as Gandhi. I admired monks and hermits and wanted to be like them.

During this time I was listening to John Michael Talbot who also became a hermit. He wrote a song called “Lady Poverty” that I fell in love with and even performed in the churches I was ministering in at the time. Here are the lyrics:

Lady Poverty, love me tonight.
Dress me in sackcloth where once i wore white.
and disperse my fine linens to the naked and the poor.
Lady Poverty, enter my door give me the riches of my Lord.

Let all suffering come to an end.
Embracing all hunger let me call it my friend.
Let my love be made perfect without seeking reward.
Lady Poverty, enter my door give me the riches of my Lord.

And if Jesus was a poor man then like him i too must be.
And if Jesus was a beggar than lift me up to my knees.
For love never seeks out its own.

If love always gives when there’s no reward shown.
Let us be beggars and paupers and servants at best,
laboring always so that others might rest,
that the sweet name of Jesus our tongues might confess.

Beautiful song. Dangerous words. I let them sink into the center of my being. I started fasting, reduced my wardrobe to one set of clothes, stopped using soaps and other things to take care of my body, and even wished I could be a hermit too. Not a happy time for Lisa, who calls this my “Gandhi Phase”.

These lyrics and the attitude behind them became so enmeshed in my spiritual DNA that years later I came to the conclusion that, because my finances sucked, I had somehow cursed myself. No matter how hard I tried to overcome my poverty mentality, I could not. I believed my vow of poverty became a curse of scarcity, and there was nothing I could do about it. I meant well but didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into. The magic was strong with this one!

Actually, I don’t believe in magic. But I do believe in the power of words. I have come to conclude that when curses are spoken over our lives, either by others or ourselves, that if we allow them to affect us, if we believe them and give them permission to worm their way into the center of our hearts and minds and infect our beliefs about ourselves and the world, then, yes, these words take on the power of a curse.

It might be something as simple as, “I’m never going to have money!” “Money’s a permanent issue for me.” “For me, money will always be a struggle.” We could say this in passing and forget about it tomorrow. Or we could say it, deeply believe it, then find our life shaping itself around this core conviction.

So, the challenge for me became not overcoming the magic of a curse with a stronger magic, but of reeducating myself and retraining my heart and mind to have truer and healthier attitudes about money and my relationship to it.

If, after great self-analysis and guidance, I decide to take the vow of poverty, rather than in my childish zeal as I did when I was just 25 years old, then okay.

Vows are negotiated wisely. But curses are sticky, easy to give and hard to break.

I know.

Do you feel you have a financial curse over your life? I healed myself of mine. You can too.

Tomorrow I’m going to write about how many who claim to be living in poverty are supported financially nevertheless. Stay tuned.

Do you need help getting over your money hangups so you can get on with your life? Are you a pastor leaving the ministry? Or are you someone who’s going through deep changes in your faith? I facilitate an online community for people like you. But I also coach people one-on-one through these traumatic transitions. Read more about my coaching HERE.


2 Replies to “Money is Spiritual: “Vow or Curse of Poverty?””

  1. This was really good. My husband & I both came from very poor fundamentalist homes. I was denied quality education, higher education & job/life experience because I was a girl. My husband was also held back. We are married @ 29 years old, both escaping the harmful fundamentalist stay at home adult children world. We feel literally like two 18 year olds starting from the bottom. We’ve been doing a lot of negative self talk lately about money and despair at ever getting a solid footing has been drifting around our home lately. I’m going to show this to him and will work on speaking more positively. Thank you.

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