I don’t have to remind you we just celebrated Thanksgiving.
For many of us, the day was full of family, feasting, football and Friday…endless advertisements about Black Friday and the “don’t you dare miss this” sales that go with it.
One of my family’s simple traditions is to go around the table during the Thanksgiving meal and each share (at least) one thing for which we are thankful. Over the years of doing this, Melinda and I have heard everything from the silly and trivial to the profound and meaningful.
For me this year, my “thankful” was “for hope in hard things.”
Hard things are part of life. But if you’re like me, you really hope you won’t experience those hard things.
Let me admit it. I hate hard.
But in a way, I also love it. But always and only afterward. Never during.
This year’s financial markets give us a picture of the pain and yet the productivity of hard.
When the Fed raised interest rates so severely, not only did the stock market give up the ghost, but so did the bond market. Most of the time, bonds are a useful ballast to the volatile nature of stocks. When stocks go down, bonds have historically held their value or even gone up.
Not this time. This time bonds fell almost as much as stocks did. In fact, this was the worst year for combined stock / bond performance in a generation.
This market has been…hard.
Yet, in the midst of this hard market season, the seeds of hope for tomorrow have been sown. When markets decline, pencils sharpen and companies tend to regain their focus. The strong tend to survive and the weaker, less profitable companies are plowed under. For the broadly diversified investor, these “bear” markets create a distinct survivorship bias, automatically sending our capital to enterprises better able to steward it.
It isn’t a pretty or a perfect process…in fact, it’s downright hard. But for those with eyes to see, it is a thing we can be thankful for…eventually.
There’s something else I’m thankful for this year.
My daughter lives in New York City. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in spring 2020, New York City was dubbed “the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic.” Struggling to find an appropriate response, Elizabeth and her friend Audrey Elledge turned to their artistic tool of choice – words.
What began as a simple offering to their church became a newly published book, Liturgies for Hope – Sixty Prayers for the Highs, the Lows, and Everything in Between.
Elizabeth’s book is about hope in the hard things of life. Hard things like doubts about God, doubts about yourself, fears, broken relationships, career disappointments, financial setbacks, health struggles or paralyzing self-consciousness.
Life is hard. And I won’t lie – I hate that part.
But in my more reflective moments, I’m also thankful that life has woven in with the hard times, reasons for hope. And in that hope, paths to healing.
My advice this week is pretty simple – get Elizabeth’s book Liturgies for Hope. Either you or someone you love needs to know there is hope in the hard.
Let me know what you think.
If “hard things” describes your financial life, I’ve created a comprehensive checklist of pre-retirement questions for people who are 60-something. It’s free if you’d like a copy. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send it to you right away.
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