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Real Answers™
Copyright: ©2008 Rusty Wright
590 words


By: Rusty Wright

Has someone you know lost their home to foreclosure?  Have you?  The psychological effects can be devastating.

The mortgage crisis and related stress have seen an increase in symptoms ranging from anxiety and depression to the extreme of suicide. 

USA Today relates the heart wrenching story of Oregon residents Raymond and Deanna Donaca.  The couple had lived in their home for over twenty years, but a foreclosure notice apparently sapped their hope.  They closed up the house, left the door from the garage into the house open, turned on their automobile engine, and let fumes fill the home, killing them and their four golden retrievers.

Don Donaca said his brother Raymond “got so deep in debt he couldn’t figure out what else to do.”

Financial pain is widespread.  The American Psychological Association’s 2007 study of Stress in America found that nearly three quarters of Americans said work and money issues were very or somewhat significant sources of stress.  Half of Americans pointed to housing costs as significant stressors. 

Of course money woes can affect marriage, family, neighborhood, and workplace.  Snapping more at your spouse or kids these days?  Wish your neighbor or boss would take a permanent vacation?  Less patient than normal with those rude road hogs? 

Many of us value having a quiet, peaceful, secure place to call home, a familiar and safe shelter to shut out the world’s worries, relax, enjoy our families or hobbies, watch American Idol, and prepare for tomorrow’s challenges.

Fear of losing your home threatens all that.  One South Carolina realtor told USA Today his own mortgage struggles “shatter your pride and become very humiliating. … The situation keeps you up at night. … It angers you.  It frustrates you. … It affects us deeply.”

Some medicate their financial pain with alcohol or addictions, which can compound interpersonal problems.  Gambling, overeating, or majoring on comfort food may provide temporary solace, but with consequences.  The American Psychological Association has posted a webpage on “Managing Your Stress in Tough Economic Times.”  The APA advises “pause but don’t panic,” figure how to cut expenses and develop a sound financial plan, perhaps with professional guidance.  View difficult times as chances to grow and change.

May I suggest an additional coping resource?  Harvard-trained psychiatrist James T. Fisher in his autobiography, A Few Buttons Missing, told of his desire to compile a handbook for sound mental health, something “practical” and “easy to understand.”  He studied long and hard seeking “some new and exciting recipe for living a sane and satisfying life.”  But then, he admitted, “Quite by accident I discovered that such a work had already been completed!” 

The work he encountered was the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ discourse about interpersonal relationships, tough times, faith, and more. “Here,” wrote Fisher, “… rests the blueprint for successful human life with optimum mental health and contentment.”

Among the life lessons there: "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' … your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Of course, no one should minimize the pain people feel from hard times or ignore practical corrective behaviors.  Sometimes the anguish results from one’s own poor, unwise, or uninformed choices.  Other times the source is others’ decisions.  Regardless, challenging times can help us see our need for resources beyond ourselves.  Adding faith to the mix can make good sense.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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