In the beginning of John 5, this was the question Jesus asked a crippled man who has been like this for thirty-eight years. As tradition goes, there was a pool inside the city of Jerusalem where you can be healed if you are in the pool when the water bubbles. This man claimed he couldn’t make it to the pool because he had no one to carry him there. When Jesus asks him this question, it would seem like a no-brainer. At the surface, if I were him, I would love to get well! However, there is more to this question than meets the eye. Getting well might mean an end to his livelihood of earning an income from the donations of people that had pity on him. He will have to get a job and earn a living. He would need to change his identity from being a crippled person.
This was the question I had to wrestle with when I started in my recovery from my addiction. Did I truly want to get well? If so, it will be painful and costly. After all, familiarity can be comforting even though it isn’t good for us. I turned to my addiction when I needed comfort or to deal with uncomfortable feelings that come up in the “real world.” Have you ever wanted to check out of reality? It can be enticing because it feels good for just a moment to numb the pain and make you forget. To borrow a phrase from the movie Shawshank Redemption, we become institutionalized.
Red: These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.
Perhaps this is you with your finances. You’ve grown accustomed to living with debt. You’ve grown accustomed to not having a budget. You’ve grown accustomed to living paycheck to paycheck. Sure it makes you stressful and anxious but you’ve grown accustomed to it. You’ve become “institutionalized.”
It all comes down to “Do you want to get well?” If so, there will have to be some drastic changes. I have good news for you, it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to just get by and survive, you can actually thrive in your personal finances!