So, what can we learn from a simple slice of bread?  My guess is that most of us can remember back just a few short years ago when it seemed as if the world had just fallen off the economic cliff.  We were being hit daily with a dose of dire news coming from all corners of the world of an impending collapse of the world’s economic systems.  Wall Street and the fortunes of most were being pummeled by the sudden realization of just how precariously integrated and intricate the world’s economic system had become.  Oh how quickly the covers came off revealing a world of make believe.  For many years leading up to this time I had been on a methodical march to “get my financial house in order.”  For me this looked like a very intentional effort to no longer be “slave to the lender” (a.k.a. get out of debt), to live within our means as a family and to work hard to set aside enough funds so that when the time was right my wife and I would be free to consider the “what’s next” questions of life.  This was not an attempt to accumulate wealth or to be what the world would call independently wealthy but rather a purposeful pursuit of becoming financially free to make choices.  Then along came October 2008 and the precipitous fall of the market, down 18% in just five days.  Suddenly I began to feel myself becoming increasingly agitated losing precious sleep as my mind began to deal with the prospects of a total collapse.  At the apex of the sleepless fury I found myself on the computer in the middle of the night checking to see what the Dow futures were signaling for the day ahead in the market.  Truth be told the determinant for whether or not I would have a good day or bad day would be measured by the ebbs and flows of what I found in the middle of the night.  About a week after living life obsessed by the tyranny of the “what if” I called my trusted friend and financial advisor confessing to him that against my best intentions it seemed that money must have become my idol.  After explaining what amounted to my obsession over the daily onslaught of seeing my financial plan tank he asked me a simple question, “Jon, have you ever read much about when the Allied forces freed the children who had become orphans while held in captivity in the concentration camps of Germany?”  The short answer was no.  My friend went on to tell me that these children, the orphans, were unable to sleep in their freedom.  To get them to sleep they were simply given a piece of bread to sleep with.  Not to eat, just hold onto.  Well I felt like a 2 X 4 clocked me over the head when I realized in that moment that my idol wasn’t money, it was freedom.  What was being put at risk with the daily downward dive of the market was my “freedom to be free” to do whatever, whenever and however I might choose.  In my quest to no longer be “slave to the lender” I had become a slave to my own independence.  My best intentions had been ambushed.  The take away for me then and perhaps for you now might be to consider just how prone we are to lull ourselves in our goodness into hitting the wrong target or attempting to solve the wrong problem.  My good intentions in this case had become a smoke screen for the real idol of my heart.  I only wish I had spent the same amount of time and energy over the years locked in on the right target.  Peace.