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Friday, November 19, 2010

The Secret to Surviving the Economy

By Cheryle M. Touchton
904-614-3585
Cheryle@pocketfullofchange.org

Whine, Whine, Whine. Everyone is whining about the same subject – the economy. I know because I was whining too. I felt justified. My husband’s employer eliminated the entire department that we moved across the country for him to work for. We owned houses in two cities and both were worth around 40% less than we had paid for them.

I had company with my whining. I turned on the television and heard whining within minutes. It was the most popular discussion topic at social events. I opened my newspaper and the whining began on the front page. The last time I checked, whining did not help. What I needed was an answer. I have great news – there is one and, thank goodness, I remembered it.

My answer started with knowing that God has amazing plans for me – plans to prosper me and give me a hope and a future. How did I know? God said so in Jeremiah 29:11. The trick was to discover those plans. Then I remembered. I knew an ancient secret that had been around for thousands of years.

The irony of me forgetting this secret is that I’m an author and this ancient secret is the subject of all of my books and articles. If you are Jewish, you probably wear this secret around your neck and call it the Sh’ma. If you are Christian, you know it as the Greatest Commandment. It is practical, balanced, and simple. In short, when we stop working on our problems and simply love God with our entire mind, heart, soul, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves, the problems take care of themselves.

When my husband and I stopped worrying about the economy and refocused all energy on loving God and our neighbors, we were able to hear the plans God has for us along with how to finance them. It was not easy and we had make some difficult decisions but just two short years later, our houses are sold, we have no debt, my husband has another job, and we are gradually rebuilding our financial security. We do not make as much money as we have in the past and we are renting instead of owning a home, but we live in a lovely house and have enough money to meet our needs, give to others, have fun.

So how does this apply to the reality of unsold homes, job searches, and stressed budgets? Below are five simple steps for surviving the economy.

Step 1 – Mind Matters
First, focus your mind on what is good, lovely, pure, and admirable in your life. List them on paper. Then, get honest and answer, in writing, the following questions:
• What is the reality of your financial situation? List your income, expenses, and debt. (a spread sheet helps)
• List your risks. For example, is your job in jeopardy? Are you over/under qualified for the current job market? Has your home value decreased?
• What can you reasonably afford with the income you have?
• What can you reasonably do without?

Step 2 – Heart Helps
Whining, complaining, and self-pity are heart poison. Stop! If your financial situation has taken a downturn, don’t pout. Instead, face what you have given up and move on. If fear is worming its slimy way through your heart, stomp your feet in defiance. God of the Universe has plans for you! Reel in those rambunctious emotions.

List:
• What you had to give up
• What you lost and are grieving
• What you are afraid of losing
• Whom and what you are mad at or blame

Step 3 – Soul Solution
Economy issues are nothing for a God that can create a universe. Trust Him and pray, confess, and praise.

Ask God:
• To help you forgive anyone and any situation that has hurt you financially
• To reveal His plans for you and how you are to carry them out
• To give you wisdom to know what to do next
• To give you courage and power to carry out those plans

Thank God for everything in your life, including the economic crisis. List:
• What you need to do next
• What you want to do next

Trust what you wrote down.

Step 4 – Strength Solutions
Act immediately. Put your plan into action. This is no time for fear, doubt, laziness, or delay. Work with the energy and confidence of the determined. Work into the night. Smile while you are working because you know a secret. God has plans to give you hope and a future.

Step 5 – Neighbor Needs
If you’ve followed the above steps, you’ll be a light in this troubled time. Your financial recovery story will become hope for others. Love for your neighbors will bubble out with no effort. Let the economic stress bring you closer to others. Be generous with what you have and accept generosity. Don’t whine and walk away from anyone whining. Watch in wonder as the plans of God unfold, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, but always timely.

In the scheme of all eternity, unsold homes, short sales, and unemployment are unimportant but they matter to most of us. They must matter to God because He promised us a future and gave us the secret for dealing with them. When we stop worrying about the economy and focus all our energy on loving God and our neighbors, the economy crisis will serve its purpose and take care of itself. Hope will return! We will have a future. God said it and we can believe it!

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