Cash seems tight for nearly everyone these days. Skyrocketing prices, sluggish economy, and unemployment contribute to the difficulty of meeting even the necessary expenses of food, water, and shelter. Unmet basic needs cast a discouraging pall over every other area of life. The cost of living can sour even the most optimistic, hardworking soul, when out-go outweighs in-flow.
When it rains, it pours. Multiple expenses seem to hit all at once. Inventory runs out. The air conditioner needs replacing (it is 90 degrees—inside), someone breaks into our car and steals, an appliance quits working, we get sick and need a doctor. It all adds up, and we have the tendency to get grouchy.
Continual complications compound when we splurge on unnecessaries, or make poor money management decisions that can land us in a widening hole of financial hopelessness.
What’s a responsible, honest person to do?
Roll up your sleeves and get ready to climb out of that pit of despair. All is not lost. There is hard work to be done—to earn, manage, profit, spend wisely, but also to develop the most crucial part: the Attitude.
Use this season to think outside of the grumpy box. Expand your perspective. Better yet, include the Creator of the Universe into your struggle—perhaps to reveal the bigger picture of the times.
1. Allow your values and your identity be shaken and tested. While it is painful, this is a good thing once in a while. Ask yourself, “Have I gotten too materialistic? Who is my real Provider? Where do I get my strength? How much of my self-worth belief is tied up with money? What is going on spiritually in my life right now?” Go ahead and ask God the hard questions, dare to confront and make needed changes.
2. Determine the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. We might think we couldn’t live without that new TV or particular cell phone. Put it in perspective. We might have to sacrifice and do without something for a while until we get back on our feet. Eventually we may discover we didn’t need that particular addictive influence in our life anyway. You can pare your budget down to needs only. A little discipline never hurt anyone.
3. Keep giving. You will reap what you sow—so keep sowing into other people, even though it seems you are not experiencing a ‘reaping’ at present. Give stuff away. Open your closet and give some of your nicest clothing away. This breaks off the hoarding mentality, blesses other people, and makes you feel good!
4. Get dirty. Go out and serve a neighbor or someone also in need. Don’t stay inside and allow depression or self-pity settle in, but go outside and do some sweaty work! You will see others who are worse off than you. You will get ‘grounded’ and feel more balanced as you move out of your own troubles and focus concern on someone else.
5. Ask for help, support, prayer. You are not alone. Everyone goes through difficult times—we need to lean on each other. It is not a character flaw to struggle from time to time, and people cannot read your mind. Ask for what you need and let people give to YOU. We all need to learn how to RECEIVE. Ask God for a miracle—and then prepare to watch it unfold!
6. Develop a thankful heart. Instead of complaining and focusing on LACK, take stock of the GOOD things in your life.
7. This too shall pass. Often when circumstances seem the darkest, breakthrough is just around the corner. Don’t give up!
Crucial character refinement is happening within right now—you don’t want to miss it. Keep your chin up and learn the art of experiencing increasing joy even amidst trying times.
Remember! You are in a season of testing and that you will emerge stronger and wiser in the end.
Confident, Creative Coping—and Conquering—in a Constrictive (E)conomy