Financial Fears: November 21

I sat in the car, looking at the sign on the door of the food shelf office: “Closed until Friday.” It was Wednesday. I had two hungry children and myself; I had no money.

I laid my head on the steering wheel. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I had been so strong, so brave, so trusting for so long. I was a single parent with two children, recently divorced. I had worked so courageously at being grateful for what I had, while setting financial goals and working at believing I deserved the best.

I had put up with so much poverty, so much deprivation. Daily, I worked the Eleventh Step. I worked so hard at praying for knowledge of God’s will for me only, and the power to carry it through. I believed I was doing what I needed to do in my life. I wasn’t lollygagging. I was doing my best, working my hardest.

And there just wasn’t enough money. Life had been a struggle in many ways, but the financial struggle seemed endless.

Money isn’t everything, but it takes money to solve certain problems. I was sick of “letting go” and “letting go” and “letting go.” I was sick of “acting as if” I had enough money. I was tired of having to work so hard daily at letting go of the pain and fear about not having enough. I was tired of working so hard at being happy without having enough. Actually, most of the time I was happy. I had found my soul in poverty. But now that I had my soul and my self, I wanted some money too.

While I sat in the car trying to compose myself, I heard God speak to me in that silent, still voice that whispers gently to our souls.

“You don’t ever have to worry about money again, child. Not unless you want to. I told you that I would take care of you. And I will.”

Great, I thought. Thanks a lot. I believe you. I trust you. But look around. I have no money. I have no food. And the food shelf is closed. You’ve let me down.

Again I heard His voice in my soul: “You don’t have to worry about money again. You don’t have to be afraid. I promised to meet all your needs.”

I went home, called a friend, and asked to borrow some money. I hated borrowing, but I had no choice. My breakdown in the car was a release, but it didn’t solve a thing—that day. There was no check in the mailbox.

But I got food for the day. And the next day. And the next. Within six months, my income doubled. Within nine months, it tripled. Since that day, I have had hard times, but I have never had to go without—not for more than a moment in time.

Now, I have enough. Sometimes I still worry about money because that seems to be habitual. But now I know I don’t have to, and I know I never did.

God, help me work hard at what I believe is right for me in my life today, and I’ll trust You for the rest. Help me let go of my fears about money. Help me turn that area over to You, God. Take away the blocks and barriers in my life to financial success.

November 19

I was reminiscing one day with a friend about a sage voice in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill M., a man who sponsored many of us when we first got sober.

“I was sitting and complaining about someone else, about how screwed up they were and what they needed to do to change,” my friend said. “Bill M. listened to me carry on. ‘You know why we take other people’s inventories, don’t you?’ he finally asked.

“‘No,’ I said.

“‘Because our own makes us want to throw up.’”

Let off steam. Don’t deny how you really feel. But if you insist on talking about someone’s flaws, at least once in a while let them be your own.

Prayer: Give me the courage to look fearlessly at myself. Help me see my weak spots. Please give me the stamina to keep looking until I find something to feel good about too.

NOVERMBER 18: Live with Unsolved Problems

Sometimes we need to live for a while with a particular behavior, problem, or situation before we’re ready to change it.

Sometimes we have to live with it so long—conscious that it’s a problem but unable yet to solve or change it—that we can hardly bear it. We’re fully aware that we want and need something different, but the situation still hasn’t changed. The answer has not yet arrived. We worry that the situation will continue eternally and the problem will never be solved. During those times of living with a problem and the desire to solve it, we may long for the old days, those days when our denial system was intact and we didn’t know what we were doing.

If you can’t solve it yet, if you can’t change it yet, it’s okay to live with it, just as it is. Something is happening. The situation is changing. You’re on your way to change.

Trust that the waiting part of change is necessary.
Trust that your desire for change is the beginning
of change. Trust that each moment you are moving
closer to the change you desire.

Grief and Action: November 17

Trust in God and do something.
—Mary Lyon

It’s important to let ourselves grieve as a passage between yesterday and tomorrow. But we do not have to be controlled unduly by our grief, or our pain.

There are times when we have grieved, surrendered to the heaviness, tiredness, and weariness of a circumstance long enough. It becomes time to break out. It comes time to take action.

We will know when it’s time to break the routine of grieving. There will be signs within and around us. We will become tired of the heaviness. An idea will occur; an opportunity will present itself. We may think: No. Too much effort…. Do it anyway. Try something. Reach out. Stretch. Do something unusual, something different, something special.

A new activity may help trigger the transformation process. Stay up two hours later than usual! Make an appointment to do something for yourself that is different from what you usually do. Visit someone you haven’t seen in years. Do something to encourage and help the new energy coming your way.

We may not feel like breaking out of grief. It may feel safer, easier, to remain in our cocoon. Begin pushing out anyway.

Test the walls of your cocoon. Push. Push a little harder. It may be time to emerge.

Today, I will trust God and the process, but I will also take action to help myself feel better.

November 16: Be persistent

Earlier in this book, I talked about how little drops of rain, over the years, could wear pockets and indentations into stones. I used this as an analogy to demonstrate how negative influences could wear away our resolve.

It goes both ways.

When I first was in recovery, one of the treatment center staff gave me one good quality about myself when I couldn’t see or find anything about myself to like.

“You’re persistent,” he said.

“Yes,” I thought. “You’re right. I am.”

I also thought if I took one-half the energy I used doing destructive things and channeled it into doing positive activities, there wouldn’t be anything in the world I couldn’t do.

Most of us are persistent. We persistently dwell. We have persistently tried to change what we cannot, usually a circumstance or someone else’s behavior. Take that energy, that persistence, that determination, that almost obsessive resolve, and persevere with the things you can do.

Don’t push.

Let go of concern about the seemingly impossible tasks in your life. Softly, steadily, like the rain, let your kind spirit naturally remove the obstacles in your path.

Life is better when we flow.

But sometimes it takes a persistent flow to change the things we can.

Enough water, persistently applied, can be more powerful than rock.

God, grant me the courage to persevere and the strength to persist.

November 15

The easiest way to figure out what’s bothering me about me is to listen to what I say bothers me about others. Sometimes other people are a better mirror than the one on the wall.

Gratitude Focus: We can be grateful for all the people who help us feel safe enough to honestly look at who we are and what we do.

NOVERMBER 14: Find Your Center

“My life has changed so much,” the man at Breitenbush told me. “I go with the flow now, try to be in the moment, be spontaneous. I’m a foreman, and even at work life goes much more smoothly. A year ago, I didn’t know what it meant to be centered. Now I do and I work at staying that way.” He looked around the camp, a nature retreat in the heart of the Willamette National Forest in Oregon. “And I know how to get there too.”

For many years, I didn’t understand what it meant to be centered either. If I was that way for a while, it was more accidental than deliberate. It takes time, practice, and mostly desire and commitment to make staying centered a way of life. But the time it takes is worth it.

Learn what it feels like to be centered, to be balanced. Learn what it feels like to be off center. Learn to tell the difference. Then, learn to come back to center as quickly as possible.

Quiet. Relaxed. Feeling right about what you’re doing. On track. In harmony. At peace. In balance. No turbulent emotions racing through you. No disorganized thoughts clamoring through your head. Your body feels aligned, and you feel connected to it. What you do and say comes from your center. It feels right and honest. It feels like you, and you feel connected to your self, your deepest self, your soul. Your heart is open. And so is your mind.

That’s the place from which we’re seeking to live our lives. Find a way to get to that place, then go there often. Some helps include nature, listening to music, going for a walk, repeating a prayer, or forms of deep breathing or meditation.

It’s hard to find a place we’ve never been to.
Learn what it feels like to be centered. Know
your center is in you. Then go there often.

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