28 September 2010
Coming out of Debt
If one could develop Stockholm Syndrome with her debt, I could honestly say that may be just one I have done.
On Friday, October 15, 2010, my husband and I expect to be completely out of debt.
It was my husband who helped shape my opinion on debt. Before we married, I saw debt as a necessary evil, as something that everyone just simply lives with and does not get away from until they die. I did not see debt as evidence that we were living outside our means. I figured debt was okay as long as we could pay the payments; we were only living outside our means if we bought things on credit and could not afford the payments. Such was my thinking for many years.
It took several years of my husband's frustration, many sermons on debt, and a word of knowledge from a pastor in January 2010 for me to realize we did in fact need to make sure we got out of debt before the end of the year.
Even as I came to know consumer debt only works against me, I was not sure I wanted to let ours go. It was a way of knowing where our money was going. As each debt disappeared over the past years, we subsequently increased our spending on dining out and entertainment. This increased spending added to our feelings that our money was simply "disappearing." At least with credit card bills and car payments we had something to show for where our money went.
Much like a victim who relates to and even clings to the perpetrator, I had come to cling to the debt as a safety blanket. I did not want to be controlled by the debt, but wanted to keep it comfortably within reach. I wanted to come to its defense against my husband and everyone else who told me to get rid of it. Everyone talked about debt being bondage. However, I wanted to believe I was not in bondage to anything, including my debt. I was in debt because I had freely chosen to have it. It had me in the same position as a victim who believes she has chosen to be under the control of her abuser. I believed the debt would help me accomplish my desires, without regarding how much it was really costing me and without taking to heart the fact that God's warns us that the borrower is servant to the lender. It was not the debt itself that was my captor, and to whom I had this kind of Stockholm Syndrome. Rather, it was the holder of that debt that was my captor; the bank, the mortgage company, the other financiers.
Then came the word of the Lord through a well-trusted pastor that we all needed to get out of debt as soon as possible. Like many preachers and speakers I heard in the year following his new year sermon, the pastor had been warned by God that His people need to protect themselves from the further collapse of the American and world economies. They would do this by coming out from under the bondage of their debtors.
And, so, in just a couple more days, we as a family expect to be out from under the bondage of our debtors. It is an event that brings hope and yet a fearful sense of responsibility. We will be responsible for making sure we do not go into debt again. We will be responsible for saving or investing the money we gain by being debt free. We will be responsible for not wasting our money on those little extras just because our bills have decreased. All these responsibilities bring with them a fear that made me willing to continue to hang onto the debt.
And so, October 15, 2010, will be a date that will live forever in our family. It will be the date that we as a family quit wasting our money, sending it to our credit holders. For me personally, it will be the date that I have solid evidence that I have submitted my finances to God's will and that I have quit looking to my ability to pay bills as a form of stability. My sense of stability (at least in the area of finances) now comes from my obedience to God's Word.