Promotion and a Pay-cut

Businessman on pogo stick

Yesterday, my husband, Rich, came home from work with the news that he’d gotten a promotion and an “ouch, this is gonna hurt” pay cut…layoffs have been happening at his company and now they’ve instituted pay cuts across the board. The company’s future is uncertain.

Telling of the times, isn’t it? Our family is one of many, many who’ll be hit by the recession this year. My mother and stepfather’s business went under last year and now my sixty-something mother is looking for work, presently they are surviving without a paycheck. Theirs is a common story that will only become more common in the months ahead. How do we weather such storms? What do we do to find a way through?

I watched President Obama’s press conference last night and he is actively making the government a part of the solution. Stimulus plans, new job creation, tax cuts, bailouts–they’re all on docket for the House and Senate to set in motion. No doubt they’ll collectively say “yea” soon. As Christians, though, is government where we look for help, is it our savior?

Recently I saw verbiage I don’t think I’ve ever seen before: “companies staying loyal to their employees”. Yeah, companies being ‘good guys’ by not cutting jobs, benefits, pay. Companies are to be people’s saviors–we’re to look to them for a way through.

How about Oprah and the self actualization-ers? Are we really gods? Is positive think meshed with chutzpah and a New Age worldview the “place” where we seek meaning in times like these? If we just ‘stay in the moment’ will yesterday and tomorrow magically be OK? Dare we assert we’re makers of our own destiny while denying the disaster we’re creating?

How about the good old American dream? You know, the ‘pursuit of happiness’. Is pursuing what makes us feel good really pursuing happiness? We sure act like it, we sure bank on it, we sure trust that it is so, don’t we? Sensual pleasure, however you dice it (food, drink, drugs, sex, consumerism, travel, high life, etc), keeps us yearning for more and more, a higher high than the high before. Disney Land just isn’t enough, we want Disney World. There is this notion that when we feel good we’re safe and sound, so we aspire for more, and keep the reality that pleasure provides no protection, at bay.

Opportunity exists for all of us (our family included, here) to look Up for a way through. God may use governmental aid or snippets we hear on the radio (even New Age snippets) to help guide and provide, but we must remember the Author of our life…the One we’ve given permission to write our story, as the source of our help. When we trust institutions and talking heads to guide us, then we sin, we “miss the mark”. Our focus slips to earthly powers, spiritual gobbley-gook and mere mortals for what our life is to be. We short change ourselves and insult God by seeking anything other than Him for what we need and how He wants us to be provided for. True safety is reserved for those who put their total trust in Him and go where He leads. This is not a passive stance, quite the contrary, it is an active seeking and an active obedience to His instruction. We let go of control of our lives, put away the endless pleasure seeking and decide to get serious about this God guy.

I realize this is all rather nebulous and not a snippet of practical advice is presented. But, I would posit that our worldview shapes our decisions and if God isn’t the center and source of our worldview, the One we seek for help and direction, then we’ll just keep grasping at saviors and switching talking heads until He is. God is like that, if He has any mercy at all…for it is in our best interest for Him to be Lord of our life, and like a great parent He wants nothing but what is best for us. We may not “see” this straightaway, but that is OK, God is patient…we’re not the first basket case He’s ever seen.

(Contemplation: yesterday, did do, have yet to today. Was restless, scattered, but hung for fifteen minutes anyway. Have more and more moments of inner focus and silence outside of prayer, though)

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