2020 has presented a wealth of rough roads to traverse! So, what else is new? We are not being flippant about the issues we face. We need to remember the same financial, emotional, and racial issues have been before us for many years. The difference this year is the precise situations and circumstances have heightened our emotions and affected our response.
Though being a Baby Boomer is sometimes the subject of derision from younger generations, there is a definite advantage in being born in the post-World War II years. We have lived through several waves of racial tensions. We can remember protests about racial injustice and unpopular military entanglements that erupted into rioting, looting, and property destruction. This is not the first time a society seemed out of control and certainly not the first time one generation has been unable to understand another!
There are proven principles that will help us (both as a society and as individuals) successfully traverse a rough, exhausting future. These principles apply to dealing with family pressures that threaten to destroy marriages, racial tensions that threaten to dismantle a society, or financial burdens that threaten to shatter our dreams of the future.
- Do not allow our emotions to frustrate and paralyze us as we address and attack the challenges before us. Everyone has an emotional response to events in life. Whenever anyone is confronted with the need of racial equality, they respond emotionally. When an individual is forced to admit they have not saved enough for retirement, or they have invested poorly, emotions boil to the surface. Anytime a family faces issues that threaten their future, impulsive responses fill the air. Though we all have emotions, we must not allow them to control, or even be the basis of, a plan of action to correct the issues at hand! Emotions will cloud our thinking. Emotions can lead us to discard real solutions. Emotions are real and they should be evaluated. They should not be trusted to help us build a better future. Before plans are developed to address issues, emotions must be put away.
- Turn to God before we begin creating a plan for the future. Some thirty years ago, as the eldership of the congregation was gathering for prayer, a young man came through the door to ask when we were going to quit praying and do something. Humans are prone to putting a plan in place then asking God to endorse it and “do it.” “I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” (Psalm 121:1-2) “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me.” (Psalm 56:3-4) We do not suggest anyone sit forever waiting for a revelation from God, but let’s not be guilty of leaning on our own understanding alone! Proverbs 3:5
- Identify precise, meaningful, measurable steps that can move us toward our goal of identifiable improvement. When we must admit our financial plans require change in order to have the future we want, we must identify steps to take today, and subsequent steps to take in the future. If spouses find themselves in a marriage under stress, they need to identify small changes that can be made and then hold themselves accountable for those steps. A crisis does not arise overnight, though it may seem so. Solutions to issues do not happen at the waving of a magic wand. Change requires effort that may be exhausting at times.
- Never allow progress to stagnate the process toward the ultimate goal. If human nature is prone to doing anything, it is prone to stopping short of the goal. We begin to see our savings grow nicely, so we abandon the plan to spend more today. We see progress of reduced stress in a marriage, so we assume we have arrived at our goal when we haven’t. During the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s, people could see progress had been made in changing the state of racial inequality in the United States. We assumed that the process toward full equality was in place and thought we could move on to other issues. We can never stop identifying and taking further steps toward our goal. “Let’ not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Yes, the road ahead is rough, and arriving at the place we want to be will be a difficult process. There is no reason to lose hope or give up. If we apply principles that have proven helpful for generations, we will succeed!
Here is to thinking clearly, acting decisively, living racially, emotionally, and financially free. Never stop pursuing our passions…in every stage of life.