Hyperventilation is defined as over breathing. Hypoventilation is the opposite: under breathing. The first will result in abnormally low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. The second will result in too much carbon dioxide in the blood. Normal breathing maintains the perfect balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood, resulting in good health and energy levels.
My hunch is that far too many of us either over breathe or under breathe in our spiritual and financial lives. Let me explain:
Over breathing spiritually means trying too hard. The good news about The Good News is that God wants to live out His life through us if we will only get out of the way and let Him. We can never earn salvation or His favor by gritting our teeth and striving for perfection, so we would do well to simply back off and let Him do His thing.
Over breathing financially also means trying too hard. I know full well that Dave Ramsey tells us to get Gazelle intense about getting out of debt, and I have no issue with being focused on reaching goals. But there is a difference between focus and obsession. If your every waking breath is about reaching your financial goals, you are trying too hard and obsessing. You are over breathing.
Under breathing means apathy both spiritually and financially. Apathy leads to laziness, indifference and eventually disaster…not good traits for your spiritual life or your financial life.
Our goal, of course, is to simply breathe. The good thing about normal breathing is that we don’t have to concentrate or even think about it. Normal breathing just happens.
How can we breathe with our spiritual and financial lives? Here are some thoughts:
Put God first.
I would say “Give it all to God”, but He already owns it all anyway (Psalms 24:1). Our responsibility is to acknowledge what is already true. Put God first with your life and your money. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us that our job is to trust in the Lord. His job is to direct our paths.
Have a plan.
God gave us brains and He expects us to use them. Spending time with God in prayer, meditation and Bible study will keep us close to Him. Remember, however, that this is not a rote habit (under breathing) or an effort to win His favor (over breathing). Simply enjoy his company. He enjoys yours.
In like manner, have a financial plan…for this year, for next year and for 30 years from now.
Roll with the punches.
If we acknowledge that our spiritual lives and financial lives are going to have ups and downs, we won’t hyperventilate when life punches us in the face. We have already put God first, so we can expect Him to make lemonade out of our lemons (James 1:2-3). In fact, knowing that God is in control is cause to actually be thankful in the midst of turmoil (1 Thes 5:18).
Keep an eternal perspective.
We are eternal beings so we should not overly stress about stuff that will burn. James 4:14 tells us “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”. Spiritually, we have hope of an eternity in the presence of a loving God. Financially, we can’t take it with us. Breathe…don’t over breathe. It’s not worth it.
We started out acknowledging that it all belongs to God anyway. He is a giver and He wants us to be givers. The question is not, “How much of my stuff do I give away?” but “How much of God’s stuff does He want me to keep?” Breathing is easier when we are being generous with someone else’s (God’s) assets.
The problem with us humans is that we want to be in control. But “controlled breathing” is an oxymoron. Breathing just happens. Our spiritual and financial lives can breathe if we put God first, have a plan, be flexible, keep an eternal perspective and stay generous.