I may not be an expert in economics, but I have survived difficult times and prospered in spite of having little money. My first lessons in overcoming challenging financial crises came from my mom.
When my mother divorced my dad, she lost the financial security he had provided. This meant that this woman — without a formal work history or higher education — had to find a way to support herself and her remaining child at home – me. She gave up her house and pretty much all material possessions from a 26-year marriage and left her home state of Georgia in search of a better and happier life. We headed west.
In short — we were homeless. All we had was what we could pack in a friend’s car.
The faith-filled prayers of this woman came from her confidence that God would care for His beloved children. Her story may not be a rags to riches one, but my mom was always able to provide the necessities and essentials.
She had an often miraculous way of making a little go a long way. Consequently, I never thought we were poor.
Remember the children’s song about Henry who announced to Liza that he had a hole in his bucket? I’ve always been amused by Liza’s response, "Well fix it, dear Henry…." That’s the type of solution my mom would suggest today to Henry or anyone else.
She would say, "If you have a hole in your bucket — just fix it." She would be certain there was a way to fix any hole. And she would never give up on attempts to make the needed repair. Panic was not a reaction natural to her. I think her calm assurance and resilience was imbedded in her spiritual resolve, based upon her faith in God’s care and love for His creation.
I love the Biblical example of supply that is told in II Kings. (II Kings 4:1-7) Apparently, a woman whose husband had died was in financial trouble. I guess her husband had some unpaid debts, and the creditor was demanding payment from her even if he had to take her two children as slaves.
This woman went to Elisha for help. Elisha asked her, "What do you have in your house?" Her first response was, "Nothing." But then she corrected that answer to, "Well, I do have a little oil."
Elisha told her to borrow jugs and bowls from all her neighbors. After this was done, Elisha instructed her to pour oil into each container. She followed his advice.
In fact, after all the containers had been filled, she still had oil left over. Elisha told her to sell the oil-filled containers and make good on her debts, and the leftover oil would be sufficient for she and her sons to live on.
How many times will panic, fear, and doubt blind us into believing there is nothing we can do, that the problem is too big or impossible to fix?
I think Elisha’s question — "What do you have in your house?" — is very poignant. It points us in the direction where we can find our answers. I think his question is assuring us that whatever answer we need is within our grasp — that a solution is indeed reachable. It is saying, "Don’t panic! Don’t get caught up in any hyped up fears!"
And his question very much reminds me of my mother’s way of solving every financial crisis she has faced. Her approach was solidified with certainty, expectancy and creativity. She confronted each challenge step by step, being grateful for and valuing any progress — whether big or small. She never became daunted by any single task that was required. And she never took her eye off the ball — her goal, her destination, her dream.
Her life example has created within me the same financial confidence. Whether I have abundant money in the bank or not, I never doubt I will have the means to do whatever is needed. For me, this included going to college when I had no idea how I would pay my tuition. But semester by semester, I found the ways to do just that. Confidence often opens unexpected doors.
So I’m not overly worried about our American economy right now. A crisis can be exacerbated by overreaction that comes from emotion-driven decisions. Fear too often carries a danger all its own as it breeds panic. We must choose between fear and confidence. Both are contagious.
Perhaps we need to take some deep spiritual breaths, remembering there is a divine and infinite source for all our needs. And remain calm. I think we will find, like my mom proved again and again, that confident resolve will lead to fixing any "hole" that needs fixing.
Annette Bridges is a freelance writer who lives on a north Texas ranch with her husband, John. Her columns are published weekly on United Press International’s ReligionAndSpirituality.com and numerous other websites and newspapers. Visit her website and participate in her blog at www.annettebridges.com and send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.