Thursday, August 19, 2010

What is the most important thing?

Our family’s journey over the last few months has not been an easy one.  With my husband unemployed, we’ve been living on what I earn part time, family assistance and our savings.  We haven’t gone without anything we need, but 9 months down the track I’m getting tired of having no surplus, no buffer fir extras.  Emotionally and mentally I’ve been feeling worn down by the constant weekly challenge to keep the budget balanced.  With the economy where it is, the prospects of our situation changing in the next few months are slim.

I’ve been thinking again about what’s important for me, and realised my focus has been out of balance.  What is helped me most over the last few weeks has been my faith.  I know some of the readers of this post aren’t Christian, but I am, and this is about my own journey, so please bear with me.

I was reading the Biblical account of Jesus walking on water.  Peter gets out of the boat to walk towards Jesus.  As long as Peter keeps his eyes fixed on Jesus, he’s able to walk on top of the waves - they’re pretty choppy waves too.  But when Peter takes his attention off Jesus and instead looks at the wind and waves, he panics and starts to sink.

I felt like I was Peter.  The storm was like our financial circumstances.  So long as I keep my focus on what’s most important - my relationship with God -  then I can walk over the tops of even the worst waves.

I’m not advocating ignoring your circumstances! I’m passionate about careful budgeting and planning, the importance of knowing what’s coming in and where it’s going out, the setting of goals and working towards them.

What I am talking about here is not letting your circumstances overwhelm you.  I’ve found that taking a step back from the detail and looking again at the big picture makes it easier to ride out the emotional stress of the day to day ups and downs.

The question I’m now asking myself on a daily basis is “Where is my main focus?”  Are my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, or am I focused instead on the circumstances around me.  I’m making the effort each day to spend some time “re-focusing”.  I surrender my anxieties and concerns to God, and pray for spiritual guidance in my day to day living and budgeting.

Going back to the Bible: in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us “So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' ... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I asked the question on my facebook page: “what's the no.1 most important thing in your life?”  The replies I got back were about prioritising financial needs.  Can I encourage you to also take a step back from the finances, look at the bigger picture of your life, and ask yourself again what is the most important priority in your life?  What perspective does that give you when you go back and look again at your financial priorities?  I’d love to see your feedback.

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