Open Your Mail!

Here’s what I learned this week whilst doing our taxes: Open your mail. ALL of your mail. Even if you are “certain” of what it contains. Open your mail!

With the April 15th tax deadline looming I sat down last Saturday night to lay out the papers needed to work through filing our joint tax return. Waiting this long is intentional I confess. It’s a little game I play with myself. I guess I have a dangerous side to me. I’ve had years where we owed money so waiting this long before having to send off a check wasn’t just holding out on the IRS it was necessary considering our pitiful financial state. But lately, with two full time jobs, some charitable deductions and IRA contributions, we’ve been lucky to get a refund.

So when the first of the year rolls around I pitch the obvious letters onto a pile without opening. I hate business mail and I am sorry that my job actually requires me to generate business mail. It pains me to know exactly how someone feels getting one of my personally generated envelopes. I picture then getting pitched on a pile too! Well as I sat and opened the letters acknowledging our charitable gifts, I got to our very own church statement of giving. I audibly gasped. What tha? Seems there was nothing listed beyond July. Oh my. July.

“Well that can’t be,” I say out loud.

A visit to our church website verifies there is NOT a page missing. A visit to our bank website verifies that automatic checks were sent….but not PAID as evidenced by the lack of bold blue lettering in the right column. No amount of clicking seemed to help. It’s Saturday night in April. Way too late to do something about this for 2008. Way too late to get an explanation from the bank. Way way too late to get an explanation from the church business office.

As an aside, being a church administrator, and working lots of volunteer hours at my worship church does not get me faster answers than anyone else. I’m as clueless and unimportant as the next dope that doesn’t open their mail…or most importantly…doesn’t watch their accounts online with regularity—in a timely fashion—within the month things happen. Not 4 months later!! For crying out loud!!!

Instead of filing online on that very Saturday, I was forced to wait until business hours on Monday, just 2 days away from deadline and cutting it closer than I really wanted. Honestly I still don’t have really good answers. My bank says they sent the checks. My church says they didn’t get them.
So where are our checks? Do I have to stop payment on all of them?

“Lord, if you have them, go ahead and cash them,” I say with Boomer our cat sitting on my desk staring at me. He squints.

The good news is when you don’t check your bank accounts you don’t realize they are getting bigger. I gasped again as I went from page to page on my bank website.

“Holy smokes!” Startled, Boomer jumps down.

I have to say I didn’t feel good. I felt a little sick to my stomach. Like I cheated, cheated God. Cheated God in 2008! And, OMG as the kids say, I was still cheating God in 2009! We believe in tithing and that 10th part is NOT ours. I just want it out!

Okay so, not trusting my bank any longer, we are trying the church website to pull the trigger and just suck the money from our account. We’ll see. I do have every hope and faith in church managenemt software to believe it will happen, and it will happen in a timely fashion, and with the complete understanding of tithing and the role it plays in our spiritual discipline.

Taxes got filed, and we ARE getting a refund. It doesn’t feel right somehow. I am sure we’ll tithe on that when it arrives, mostly because there’s just enough Roman Catholic left in me to feel as though I need to do penance for not opening the mail.
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About Robin Arnold

Reader, writer, gardener, geek, maker of homes in several states, now settled in Virginia with husband Bob, and Hazel and Wilson the tabby cats.
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