Have you ever heard of a “life coach”? Among other things, a life coach is someone who gets paid to provide private coaching to people who are trying to achieve balance in their lives. The areas of life in which balance is ordinarily sought include spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, social and financial (not necessarily in that order).
Before our economy was hit with a recession, there was a booming business in personal coaching; however, because of the downturn in the economy, life coaches have been hurting for business. Since people need to pay for things like food, housing, heat, gas, etc., personal coaching has been put on the back burner until all of the other more important needs can be taken care of. What’s ironic about all of this is that the economic downturn has caused the lives of life coaches to be thrown completely out of balance.
If you’ve been following the international news for the past month, you know about the demonstrations and violence that started in Egypt and then spilled over into Libya. You also probably know that it wasn’t the yearning to be free that triggered the demonstrations. It was because of the doubling of food prices within the past year in those countries.
Half of the Egyptian population lives on income of less than $2 a day. Prior to the increase in food prices, Egyptians spent 50 percent of their income on food. After food prices doubled, most of them had to cut back from 2 meals a day to 1 meal a day. The fear of starvation (or actual starvation) can force people to do crazy things, like risk their lives by attempting to overthrow repressive governments.
The average American spends between 10 to 15 percent of disposable income on food. Even if our food prices doubled, household food costs wouldn’t be anywhere near the share of income that the people in countries like Egypt and Libya have to pay. A recent study reported that two-thirds Americans are overweight. We obviously get plenty of food to eat every day.
I doubt that there are very many life coaches in Egypt (or any of the other countries in the Middle East). The primary goal each day for most of the people in those countries is to put enough food on the table to keep from starving. There’s not much time to worry about spiritual, mental, emotional, social or financial needs. The main focus every day is survival.
I have three observations about all of this:
OBSERVATION #1: Give Thanksgiving For Every Meal
We really should make an effort to say a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving every time we sit down to eat. Despite our high gas prices and depressed economy, we still live in a land of abundance. Since we don’t have to struggle to put food on the table (like the majority of the people in the world today), we are able to focus on other things such as our physical, mental, emotional, financial and spiritual needs.
OBSERVATION #2: For The Devout Catholic True Long Term Balance Is Unobtainable
In my opinion, long term balance is unobtainable for the truly devout Catholic. As Catholics, we have an obligation to not only take care of ourselves and our families, but to also reach out to others by practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. (The corporal works of mercy are: to feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; welcome the stranger; visit the sick and imprisoned; and bury the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are: to counsel the doubtful; instruct the ignorant; admonish the sinner; comfort the sorrowful; bear wrongs patiently; and pray for the living and the dead.)
I would have much more time to “balance” out my life if I gave up writing an article every week for Catholics, but I would not be living up to what I believe God expects of me. Georgette and I would have had much more time for “balance” if we had taken the easy way out by limiting the size of our family to what our culture defines as “the perfect family” – a boy and a girl. If we had done that, although we would have had more time for ourselves and our relationship, we would have had to turn our backs on the teachings of the Catholic Church.
If you look at the lives of the saints, you will notice one commonality. Their lives were completely out of balance. They were willing to give up the normal daily comforts so they could dedicate their lives to serving God and His people.
OBSERVATION #3: The Journey Toward Balance Must Always Start With Prayer
Regardless of where you’re at on any given day within the hierarchy of needs (food, shelter, self fulfillment, etc.), your primary objective should be to make sure you are taking the time each day to continue to develop your relationship with God through prayer. If you maintain an active daily prayer life, anytime your “balance” is thrown off, you will be given the grace to accept and adjust to the imbalance that your are experiencing.
The only “place” where we’re ever going to experience complete and total balance is in heaven. Unfortunately, we’ll never make it there unless we’re willing to dedicate our lives to prayer and sacrifice.
Are you willing to put up with some imbalance during your life on earth in exchange for an eternity of balance (and bliss) with God Almighty?