When Starbucks is part of the economy…
Being a word person means… well, it means words mean something to me. And not just “something,” but A LOT. And one of my favorite words actually comes from the Greek. In our alphabet, we’d spell it like this: oikonomia. Can you tell what word it is?
Being translated, it’s the word “economy.” Wow, you’re thinking, that’s super fun sounding, Kelli! After all, don’t we all just love talking about bills and budgets and balancing and – especially for those of us in Illinois who own businesses – TAX HIKES? Why don’t we just throw dentists and colonoscopies in there too as Fun Times in America?
Economy can mean materials and resources a country or a business might have. And while I am a financial nerd at heart, it’s the second listed definition that means more to me: careful management of available resources.
Which brings me to why this is my favorite word of all time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized more and more the importance of me having a healthy economy in my own life. You could call it the Economy of Kelli. Now put your name in instead: The Economy of _______. Think of it as you balancing your resources. Resources such as: your intellect, your time, your family’s combined resources, your health, your emotional energy and your money or possessions too! (God is also involved in there too, but we’ll get to that part in a bit.)
I was taught this word when I was younger, and in a way, have kept it in the background of all the planning I’ve ever done for my family and myself. In fact, when I’m calm and settled down and not mad about car repair bills, I look around my life and I think, “This is a nice life…well, except for those stupid car repair bills…” I realize that my life is a nice life* because I have made choices on my oikonomia. If you have your basics in place, then all decisions come from that. The worst times in my adult life have been when I’ve ignored or broken my own rules in my economy. *”Nice life” being a fairly subjective term, because you need to figure out what that “nice life” means to you.
Basic Oikonomia Life Rules
-Just as I am an emotional eater, I can also be emotionally up and down (not emotional as in “moods,” but rather in tough moments or moments of questioning myself or having life take a swing at me) – so having rules for who I am helps me make decisions in the moments when I’m feeling rundown or bowled over by someone else’s behavior. Having a simple idea of “that’s not who I am,” helps me make decisions in the moment, instead of reacting and then having regret later. (Not always perfectly, of course, but way better than if I was just flying around with no life budget in place.)
-Just like with a salary or how much you make per hour, your personal economy will fluctuate. When I was a mother of three children under the age of 5, plus a puppy, my economy was different than now when my kids are all teenagers, I’m homeschooling two of them, and working part-time. It’s okay to change. It’s okay to fluctuate. In fact, if you don’t, you will crash and burn.
–Think of your economy in financial terms, even though all parts of it are not tangible:
Debit – Always use debit. This means there’s time in the bank. Or emotional energy stored up. If you’re an introvert, your debit column may allow for two social outings a month, if you’re an extrovert, those outings actually give you “money” in the bank and you may be up for five social outings. (If you’re in the middle like me, I don’t know… sometimes it’s three, sometimes it’s curling up in bed and reading a book and not talking to anyone.)
Credit – If you’re constantly running on credit, you’re going to crash and burn. I had a friendship once that I didn’t even fully realize was a one-way street, until I finally decided to be honest with myself. The demands on me and how I should act as a friend and the demands on my time were out of order and it took me some time to realize how easily I had thrown out my economy in order to be seen as a “nice person.”
–Make rules for yourself, your marriage, your family or your interactions with others based on your economy. Once you have a rule in place, it makes it much easier to keep boundaries in place. Here are a couple examples in each category to give you an idea of what I mean:
-Pfft… I’m not sharing my self rules with you.
-Except this one: I will not say something about person number 1 to person number 2 that I am not willing to say to person number 1’s face. (In other words:I will not gossip.) There are very few, rare exceptions to this rule (even the rule itself needs some boundaries…) and it’s led to me having to have some stupid hard conversations, but it’s been a good thing for my own life and what I want to be as a friend. Trust me, I am not 100% purely perfect on this rule -in fact, ugh! – it’s a tough one, but one that is important to me to keep working on.
-Kids won’t date until they’re 16. (I started telling them this when they were, like, 2.)
-Home is a safe place to admit how you’re feeling/doing, which means questions are a good thing.
-We go to church on Sunday mornings.
-Date night is a good thing.
-Emails, texts, computers are all open and shared and we know who each other is communicating with (without getting super neurotic about it either… just be open about things. Communicate. Friendships with others are great and life-giving to me, so being open with husband is important, so that those friendships can continue to be in a healthy zone. If I start looking to someone else – woman or man (I’m talking friendship/affirmation/fun, etc things…) – for relational fulfillment that should be coming from my husband, that’s a problem.)
-Communication is high priority. We have budget meetings and talk about goals and ideas for the future. Okay, fine, he hates goals, while I love them – so mainly this is more just a discussion, they’re not written down anywhere.
-I do not share things with others that I wouldn’t say if my husband was in the room. I do not put him down to others or in front of others. If I have something to talk about with him, I will talk to him.
–We spend money on books and Starbucks. Yay! A fun rule!
Living with a life economy means that if I’m balanced in my accounts, I have time and resources stored up to be used in a good way. Have you ever heard someone talk about finances with the idea that if you have your finances in order, then you have the freedom to give generously? This works in my idea of an economy as well. Here’s an example: If I have security and calmness and peace with my husband, we are then in a much better way to show hospitality to others. We can invite others over or go out to eat with another couple and do it in a healthier way than if we are exhausted, burnt-out, not communicating, etc. It’s the same principle as balancing your checkbook.
I do also realize really tough times come on all of us that we can’t control – I do not mean to minimize those at all. But, yes, even in those times, we can apply or change our economy rules to adjust and figure out how to keep moving forward.
And that’s it. My intro to my favorite word in the world. What do you think?? Ever tried applying an oikonomia to your life?
I am hoping to do a couple more posts about spiritual oikonomia, friendships, relationships with others who may not be friends, and with kids. Let me know if you have any comments or questions!