God just used my checkbook to teach me quite a lesson.
I had been reconciling my checkbook with the bank’s online statements when I noticed several discrepancies. It had been a while since I had tallied everything up – even the most “type A” of us get lazy about these things at points – and I began to see how this was hurting me. By not keeping track of my transactions regularly, there were little errors here and there that had a cumulative effect.
As I caught up on months of entries, I tried to fix them as I went, avoiding the urge to use a massive whiteout pen to try to undo what I did wrong and figure out where exactly things went awry.
There. It will all be balanced now.
I was proud of myself because I had accounted for each error that I could see. I wrote them all at the end very neatly using the little code I had developed. The end of my checkbook would prove that I indeed am master of my checkbook and that all those semesters in accounting class truly paid off.
I checked off each amount against the bank’s record. Check. Check. Double check. Everything had looked in fine order. At the end of the process I looked at the balance in my register and compared it with the bank’s grand total.
I was off by exactly 27 cents, my favor.
I was crestfallen.
It seems so small, 27 cents, especially when it meant I had 27 cents more! But it bothered the heck out of me. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how I had gotten my balance off. See, I had done this before. In my old account, I was meticulous about entries and balancing, regularly attending to these accounting concerns. But as the years passed, I got a little lax.
One little mistake…
Oh, I can correct that. Just add back what I mistakenly subtracted… There. Fixed!
Weeks later, another mistake.
Oh that’s easy too, just subtract 5 more cents… I’m too busy to worry myself about something so small.
At first, I let a few weeks go by, then a few months pass before I’d reconcile my checkbook with the bank’s records. I had plenty of funds (thank God) so it was okay. It’s only a few cents, I rationalized. But then, months later, when I found I hadn’t balanced my checkbook in many months. I’d find that my register was so off from the bank’s that I couldn’t account for the difference anymore.
At one point (I remember this with a chuckle), I determined to conquer the problem and pulled out months and months of statements and receipts trying to account for the error. (I know – I’m crazy!) Though armed with calculator, notebooks, whiteout, highlighters, and a resolve to solve the problem, the stack of statements on my desk and lines and lines of transaction records overwhelmed me. Well, I concluded, it doesn’t really matter anyway. It’s the bank who says I have more anyhow. I’ll just work with the less that I have recorded in my books…
But today, this was a brand new account with a brand new start. Again, I had messed up something as basic as addition and subtraction with a calculator at my disposal, no doubt. Surely I would have embarrassed my accounting professor with my sub par performance.
I honestly got frustrated. More frustrated than one should with a silly little checkbook.
I always do this! I always get it wrong! This happened with my last account too. But that’s not me. I’m usually great at stuff like this! My accounting system never used to fail! I used to have it so perfect, so meticulous and somehow I ended up with a mistake in my books. Stupid mistakes. I hate checkbooks. I should just use cash anyhow.
On and on my thoughts went as I pouted inside. I sounded worse than my elementary-school aged nephew when he didn’t win another round of Go Fish.
And that’s when it hit me.
This wasn’t about the checkbook.
This was about me.
Immediately, I saw the parallel: My checkbook is like my heart. It had been a while since I last checked my heart-book, and I had come to realize that my heart was in desperate need of it’s own reconciling.
And with this, the Spirit was ready to start…