My low today was watching the DJIA plummet 800 points, then recover to close below ten thousand for the first time in four years. Our house fund is about 80% invested in mutual funds which until the last couple months was doing okay. Well, out of this experience I’ve realized that I have been feeling very insecure. Only not about losing money. About a lot of things.

Security is something everyone desperately wants. I feel insecure when I compare myself to other people. I want to feel secure, so I try to be like them. I feel insecure when I don’t have what other people have, so I want to have the things they have. I feel insecure when I am like other people and when I have the same thing as everyone else, so I want to be different and have different things. I feel insecure when my goals aren’t met. Like my goal to have a certain amount of money in the bank that is more than I have now so I can build a house and live mortgage-free.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling insecure about these things either. I think a lot of the reason behind our current credit crisis is in part because people in general are insecure and make choices out of insecurity. In America we have an expression called “keeping up with the Joneses”. Basically “the Joneses” is the stereotypical successful American family to whom you would compare yourself… and they always look better than you, drive nicer cars than you, live in a nicer house than you, have a bigger TV than you. And they have the latest iPhone. Cable with all the channels. Their kids go to better schools than yours. You get the idea.

Well, keeping up with the Joneses is when you devote your energy to looking as good and having all the nice things that the Joneses have. It is a commitment to image and materialism in hopes of feeling secure. The trouble is, to keep up with the Joneses you inevitably have to live beyond your means. That means getting into debt. Credit card debt, mortgage debt, any kind of debt to pay for all the things you think you need because your neighbors, friends, and family have them. Maybe it’s greed, but for a lot of people, I suspect it’s more about insecurity.

We Americans have shelter, food, clothing, and so much more. We don’t have to worry about how sanitary our water supply is. We need not fear that someone is going to show up at our door with a machete and stern instructions to vote for the incumbent dictator. I mean, we live in America, where people ought to feel the most secure on earth. Nobody in the City of Tucson will go hungry tonight, except by choice. Yet despite all our material blessings we are terribly insecure and most of us feel like whatever we have isn’t enough. So much so that we put ourselves under huge amounts of debt to pay for things we only want because we believe they will make us feel better about ourselves.

I’m not the sort of person who cares about keeping up with the Joneses. But I have the same insecurity. I read blogs, visit Web sites, and meet people who live debt-free (or nearly so), grow their own food, and pursue radical simplicity. I love that stuff. I want to live like that someday. I want to see the number of earths it takes to support my family, if everyone lived like us, shrink. I actually believe that living simply and sustainably is a way of experiencing life more fully and more as God intended (as if I know really what God intends, other than for us to love one another and listen to him). I feel insecure because I don’t live mortgage-free, I may not be able to build our house when we planned because the stock market is eating up our savings, and I have to work a day job when there are so many other things I’d rather do in life. I am discontent with my life and I am afraid of my goals not being met.

The moment I start doing things out of fear and anxiety, I become more controlling and less trusting. I am more prone to panic. But even though I might be experiencing the emotion of fear, it is still true that God loves me, he knows my heart and my dreams, he cares about them more than I do. The fear tells me that I need to do this or that in order to make sure my dreams come to fruition. Only I don’t need to make my dreams happen. Sure, I have to make my choices, but I’m not the One in charge, and the One who is actually cares about me and wants to give me good things.

Maybe if I believed that to the core I’d be a whole lot more secure.

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