It's not pessimism, it's realism. -The Cynic

I've mentioned before that my Christmas present to myself was a hiatus from news-related talk radio for the month of December.  News-related talk radio?  Yes.  I know it probably sounds like a big snooze-fest to most of you, but I was a little bit of a junkie.  I found myself generally irate when I listened to it and with the excitement and stresses of the holidays coming, I thought it would be in my blood pressure's best interest to take a break.  I was right.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much I really haven't gone back.

I have found that financial-related talk radio has fulfilled my apparent need for someone to talk at me all day long.  It's no secret that I listen to Dave Ramsey, and I'll try not to make my entire blog some sort of ode to him (because that would be weird). 

Lacking any sort of appropriate transition to get this story going, yesterday was the kind of day where several random and unrelated events happened to line up in such a sequence that I had a sort of epiphany.  And after the world's longest intro, here goes the story:

The morning began bright and early with a complaint by someone with whom I spend a lot of time, but have very little in common.  It wasn't just a complaint.  It was more than that.  Her world was in shambles because her husband was informed that he wouldn't be getting any raises in the next couple of years because he was hired at a salary above that for which his job title qualifies him.  Until his time and experience catch up with his salary, he's got to sit at his current pay.  "How unfair!"  Sparing all of the excruciating details that make this more understandable, the woman informed me that her husband would be looking for a new job, despite just starting this one just six months ago because (and this is a quote), "We are basically whores, and we will go where the money is."

Then, on the way back from lunch, a caller on my favorite aforementioned radio program told his tale of financial straits.  He had committed financial infidelity, running up nearly $100K in debt without his wife's knowledge, and was essentially at rock bottom.  His health was suffering.  He'd been to the ER the night before with chest pains from the stress of it all.  Ordinarily, I wouldn't feel super sorry for him because he made his bed and he has to lie in it.  I'm mean like that.  It wasn't so much the tale of the man that resonated with me, but what Dave Ramsey said in response to him.  Having been bankrupt himself before, Dave commiserated with the man.  (Paraphrasing in a way that won't do it justice) Dave told him that basically when times got to be that bad, he had to level with himself.  He asked himself, "What is the worst that can happen?"  He considered that the bank could take his cars and his home.  He might have to sell all of his stuff to put food on the table.  But, and here's the kicker, he'd still have Jesus and he'd still have his wife.  And together, they could pick up the pieces and build a life back.

I find the phenomenon of "rock bottom" to be a curious one.  It's the time in our lives when we learn the most about ourselves, when our reactions to dire conditions tell the "story of us".  Sometimes it takes the worst of times to appreciate the best of times and what makes those times so amazing.  (And here's a little secret, it probably isn't "stuff" that you can put on a credit card.)  If a situation like the above caller's doesn't put you on your butt and make you curl up into a ball and cry, nothing will.  Here's the cool part though, even in a time like that, there is hope.  There is nothing but hope.  He might have his cars repossessed.  He might lose his house to foreclosure.  But he still has Jesus.  And he always will.

So to tie the morning and afternoon events together, I started thinking about our country and its present situation.  I admit that I am not abreast of the current state of affairs like I used to be.  There is truth to that ignorance-is-bliss thing.  I'm not dead to governmental happenings though.  I work in an office of the politically charged nature.  So even if I'm not getting it first hand, I hear about it.  Unfortunately, I can't change the channel on that.

I won't make this political.  You probably know where I stand on things.  I'll simply say that I see a lot of striking parallels between our government and that man with the out-of-control spending habits.  Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I foresee our country having to hit rock bottom before we realize how flippin' great we had it.  I predict that there will be a time when will be stripped of our "stuff" and we'll have to to pick up the pieces and build our country back.  For me, there is hope.  There will always be hope.  For my friend who follows the dollars around, well, I just hope she can see that there is nothing lasting about that.  And there never will be.

So there you have it.

The paradox of rock bottom:  It takes the worst of times to have a true understanding of hope.


Anonymous said...

Well that certainly resonated with me today. Thanks Jennie

Debbie said...

You kept getting the "Amen!" from me throughout this post. Well done!!

In an interesting little coincidence, my Bible Study this morning was on the biblical concept of "hope". Both Hebrew and Greek words always carry with them the concept of anxious expectation.

Kind of fits.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this post.

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