How St. Francis of Assisi Offers Me Hope During Financial Setbacks

Stone Statue of Saint Francis of Assisi holding a cross.When I was a kid, I thought that when I became an adult and got a job, I’d be able to buy whatever I wanted. I could decorate my home the way I desired, buy the brand of clothes I liked, and go out to eat whenever I’d like. I was taught that if I wanted it, I could have it. I worked hard to get the things I wanted, but the current economy has put more financial stress on my family and invited me to reconsider my financial priorities. Recently, I thought of St. Francis of Assisi, and remembered how he gave up his belongings to follow a life for God. Rediscovering this saint in our current times taught me what I should have been working towards all along.

I’ve never been a big spender on frivolous things. I’m the person who buys generic store-brand items instead of expensive name brands. I give myself my own haircuts, and I don’t get my nails done or own a purse or fancy shoes. I’m a simple, almost 40-year-old woman. At least, I thought I was living pretty simply until 2020 arrived.

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Right before the pandemic hit, my husband and I had a baby and bought our first home. I had worked hard as a freelancer balancing multiple jobs and was so excited that everything was about to pay off. All those years I worked overtime – now I could finally decorate a home, buy furniture, and upgrade our car. I felt like I had finally made it, only for the pandemic, a recession, and inflation to halt those desires. It upset me at first, until I thought of St. Francis. 

St. Francis of Assisi chose to live in poverty in order to serve the Lord. He could have sought after what everyone seems to want — fancy clothes, expensive homes or indulgent food. But instead, he gave up all those desires to let God work within him with what he had. He chose not to seek more and more like everyone else did. He even stood up to his own father, who disagreed with Francis’ choice to give up his possessions and serve the poor. It takes bravery and courage to choose a path that not many others go down — to stand alone and put your deepest desires aside to help others in need.

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The more I reflected on St. Francis’ life, the more I realized that decorating my new home suddenly wasn’t as important as having a home and a safe shelter, as many people do not have that right now. My disappointment that I couldn’t get the specific food items I wanted at the store wasn’t as important as being able to simply have food on the table, as inflation costs have caused issues for people to be able to afford any food at all. Worrying that we couldn’t keep up with our peers by going on vacation wasn’t as important as being thankful we had one mode of reliable transportation. Things I once thought were financial essentials suddenly weren’t.

Learning about what St. Francis of Assisi willingly gave up makes me realize that I was focusing on the wrong things before. Instead of directing my energy towards the things I once wanted and might never have, I should focus my energy on how I can help those who have less than I do have more. I’m starting with those closest to me – I’ve raised money so my friend could avoid eviction, helped my unemployed friends find employment, and found ways to use my gifts to help others thrive.

I hope that the lessons St. Francis of Assisi left behind for all of us can help us all cope with the lifestyle changes that are required in a financially hard time. My hope is that we all learn how to be thankful for what we have and to focus our attention on how we can help others have more.