by: Mary Hagle
"What is the basis of our security? When we start thinking about that question, we may give many answers: success, money, friends, property, popularity, family, connections, insurance, and so on. We may not always think that any of these forms the basis of our security, but our actions or feelings may tell us otherwise. When we start losing our money, our friends, or our popularity, our anxiety often reveals how deeply our sense of security is rooted in these things. A spiritual life is a life in which our security is based not in any created things, good as they may be, but in God, who is everlasting love. We probably will never be completely free from our attachment to the temporal world, but if we want to live in that world in a truly free way, we'd better not belong to it. "You cannot be the slave both of God and of money" (Luke 16:13)." Henri Nouwen
To one degree or another, I think Henri Nouwen is right; we probably will never be completely free from these things as long as we’re here on earth. I could feel their "tug" as I thought about losing money, friends and family. It felt cold and lonely instantly. It was like the thermostat of my contentment just "went to zero in 15 seconds". Not that I don’t ever rely on God, because I do, and try to, always, but, if I’m honest, financial security, friends and family are very important to me. What a great wake-up call! Reading the list is a quick way to gauge just how attached I am.
What can we do about it? We’ll be asking several of you to respond to that question. A few things come to mind:
1. Stay in conversation with our sweet Lord, and repeatedly confirm to Him (and to ourselves) that in spite of the pull of all these things to "keep our hearts and minds captive," we want to be captivated by Him and His heart.
2. Develop a healthy relationship with money. Do the work from Financial Peace University. Read The Gift by Lewis Hyde. "I am not concerned with gifts given in spite or fear, nor those gifts we accept out of servility or obligation; my concern is the gift we long for, the gift that, when it comes, speaks commandingly to the soul and irresistibly moves us." Ask God to show you your heart condition about money. Give to help others. Be generous and joyful at the same time (quite a good learning exercise!)
3. Express love and gratitude to your friends and family for how important they are to you, and especially make the connection with them to how God’s love for all of you deepens and enriches those relationships for you. That may be a part of loving and being loved by friends and family that we take for granted and think "everybody knows that", but it’s important to say it. And, maybe some of them don’t know that. They need to. You need to.
4. Set a date on your monthly calendar to stop and think about this. It could only take a minute or two, or an hour, depending on your journey and life’s circumstances, but if you make a habit of checking in with yourself about it on the same day every month, it could be very informative. Do the tough exercise of contemplating how content you feel when you think about being without success, money, friends, property, popularity, family, connections or insurance.
So, thank God for Henri and his inquisitive heart, and for the loving One who created it.
We grow as we share . . .