Some people have very specific labels as to what their job entails. Yoga instructors. Hair stylist. Secretary. Of course, those jobs can be extremely challenging, requiring many skills to be effective in that position.
However, when you come to “cross-cultural worker”, such as we are, well…
The job description is rather… all inclusive.
No matter the occupation, I am first a wife and mother.
After that, well, the title depends on the day.
Most days, I’m a linguist, studying grammar and characters and roots of characters and even slang. And then I connect it and see if I make sense to anyone.
Some days, I’m a counselor and encourager, attempting to offer advice from the Word of God and pointing people toward their Creator, as He’s the One with the solution.
All days, I’m a messenger of God’s Great News.
Some days, I’m a best-selling author. I mean… you’re reading my blog, aren’t you?
Many days, I’m also a secretary, coordinating and networking, juggling schedules. Other days… well… other days, I’m an accountant.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been attempting to close out the end of 2015 and set up our budget for this year, trying to peer out into the future to see what expenses we might incur and attempting to set up quarterly payments accordingly. Forecasting our budget, the big question is do we have enough income to fuel all that. It’s been grueling.
I would say I’m competent in this arena of bookkeeping. I’m organized at least- which goes a long way.
But sometimes, not long enough. Our US self-employment taxes were higher than I expected and little little did I anticipate what our taxes in Japan would look like. That ball got dropped on me in a casual conversation a couple of weeks ago with a coworker when I realized that I had misunderstood on what exactly we were paying taxes (don’t get me started…).
The one thing that makes me feel better about this is that this same person told me that their first year, they had made the same mistake of underestimating US SE taxes and then being completely taken by surprise with the Japanese side of filing taxes. This person is smart and prepared, so I felt a little better about life at that moment. Misery loves company, haha.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I spent 7 hours…. 7 consecutive hours meticulously going through every single receipt from the previous year to ensure that everything was correct for our Japanese side alone (because things are organized differently here). I quickly did my calculations as to what taxes here would look like and felt pretty happy that taxes would be significantly lower than I thought.
As I was finishing up, I went back to check on one “.5” in my totals. Where could it be?– I knew because I’d been so chummy with every category that there were no “.5″s in this section of expenses. And that’s when I realized that my handy-dandy spreadsheet was calculating a certain section twice, meaning that our deductible expenses were less than I first thought. You follow the equation with me- meaning that our taxes were now significantly higher than I thought they would be.
That was a hard moment.
There’s so much here that isn’t said. But the last few weeks have been a boot-camp style session of being humbled and learning to put my trust in the Lord [again]. It’s a whole different ball game when you’re raising a family on the field and living off of support and the generosity and shared passion of people who have our vision.
Honestly, it really is walking by faith. In the past few weeks, while I’ve stared up at the mountains of impossibility, I’ve re-evaluated my heart: are you working by your effort? Or are you working by the grace of God? Are we making the right decisions? What else do we need to do?
And time and again, the Lord has whispered to me and given me assurances… right before taking me through round 47 of lesson repetition.
But I feel like the Lord has said, do not worry about what you will eat or what you will wear. You turn your eyes to my work, and I will turn my eyes to your wages.
And that brings tears of gratitude, humility and trust to my eyes.