This Is Normal

I love my iPhone. I am not ashamed. It’s like a digital Swiss Army knife! My iPhone contains so many valuable tools. One of my favorite, among many, is my bank app. Not only does it allow me to see my bank history easily, but I am able to cash checks and make digital transfers without leaving my recliner. No bank lines. No tellers. No car trip. It’s amazing!!

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I cannot tell you how many times I have had to deposit my paycheck as soon as it was received. Publix deposits my paycheck directly into my account, but my church hands me a paper check. As soon as it’s in my hand, I sign it and digitally deposit it. Why? Well, I’m usually down to about $5 by that time.

(Please don’t send me emails about money management. My time is split between 3 jobs right now. 2 of them pay very little and 1 of them pays me nothing.)

A couple of weeks ago, I digitally deposited 2 or 3 checks. Without thinking about it, I signed my checks with “Lexi McNair,” instead of “Alexis McNair.” The checks usually go straight into my account, as useable money, right then and there. Occasionally the bank withholds part of the amount, until the check clears. On this day, however, NONE of the money went straight into my account. I needed the money pretty badly, so I was a little panicked. I blamed myself for the problem right away. I signed the checks wrong. This MUST have been my mistake. Surely it was my mistake. I thought: “Why did you do that?!” and “You’re always in a hurry Lexi!”

I called the bank. The customer service rep I spoke with was not very understanding. My questions seemed annoying and unwarranted. No, it did not matter that I had signed “Lexi” instead of “Alexis.” (I realize that this was a dumb assumption, but it’s the only thing I could think of). No, there was no problem with my account. No, the fact that I would have to wait for the checks to clear, before having access to the money, was not unusual. What WAS unusual was the fact that I had access to my uncleared checks as soon as I deposited them, in the past.

The woman I was speaking to wasn’t very friendly, but I appreciated that she was able to shift my perspective. Of course I could wait a day or two for the checks to clear. It was silly, and very millennial of me, to expect access to that money immediately.

I have lived long enough to know how things “used to be.” I have stood in line at a bank for multiple reasons. I have received and filed bank statements. I have waited more than a few days for a check to clear. I have even gone to the bank to speak with a manager about an account issue, when customer service wasn’t a telephone call away.

When I spoke to the customer service rep, in this recent situation, I had to laugh at myself and say “calm down Lexi, this is normal.” The phrase echoed in my brain, like a cliche flashback sequence on a Disney Channel sitcom. “This is normal,” “This is normal,” “This is normal.”

Today the sentence was spoken by my missions advisor/mentor. He didn’t have to tell me to calm down, but he kept saying “this is normal.” This is the moment in which I had a flashback to the check cashing scenario. For you, this is a flash forward.

Carl was not referring to cashing checks, of course. He was encouraging me. He was saying that the length of time it has taken me to raise funds, for long-term missions in Germany, was normal. It had not being feeling “normal.” In fact, I felt like I was the only one who had taken this long to get funds together. Most of my friends, from missions orientations with TEAM, already raised their funds and have headed to the field. So a year seemed like a “normal” length of time for raising funds. For me, that year has come and gone.

If you are a member of Generation X, or earlier, you probably found my check cashing scenario humorous or even bothersome. Maybe it invoked head shaking. “Here we go. Another millennial that expects everything to work instantly, like a microwave.” You would be absolutely right to feel that way. My impatience with technology was ridiculous and very telling of the mindset of my generation.

My fundraising experience is no different. Yes, we are talking about months and years, instead of days, but the concept is the same. Missionaries who were able to raise funds quickly were fortunate, but their experience was not necessarily “normal.”

Young people who are opening their first bank account will see their digital money moving options as “normal.” They won’t know any different. Similarly, I am a new missionary. I don’t know any different than what I have seen. Facebook countdowns, blog posts, GoFundMe challenges, and Mailchimp send outs have been normal fundraising tools. They have brought funds into my missions account in a matter of days.

It’s normal to wait a couple of days for a check to clear. That’s the way cashing checks used to be, with little exception. It’s normal for a missionary to take longer than a year to raise money for a long term assignment. Well, at least we can say that it’s not uncommon.

The Lord is teaching me patience, among many other things. Please know and appreciate that this is the journey I am on. Things have not changed. I know that I am called to Germany. Moving there will change my entire life. The process is currently doing that as well. But now I wait.

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