Tough Lesson Learned

It was the spring of 2003.  Our life was pretty much perfect in our eyes.  We had two healthy boys and a beautiful home.  We both had good jobs and were able to buy pretty much anything we needed or wanted.  In March, we decided to sell our home because we wanted to move a little bit closer to our family.  We were able to sell very quickly and made enough money to pay off most of our debt.  We found a place to rent for a time while we looked for a new place to buy.  Things were still very good for us at that time.

Then came June…Tim received news that he was being laid off from his job.  This would cut our income in half.  He received a nice severance package, so we were not worried about money at first.  He started to look for a new job, but was having a hard time finding one that would replace his income.  He had to settle for a job just making something because that was better than nothing.  As his severance ran out and his income did not meet our financial needs, we started to use credit cards again.  These are the cards that had been paid off when we sold our house, but since we did not close them, we had them to use.

We continued to struggle financially as the more we used the credit cards, the higher the payments became.  Because Tim was still not making very much money, we couldn’t always make our payments without borrowing from one card to pay the others.  It was a very steep and quick downward spiral.  We were trying so hard to keep our heads above water, but it was quickly becoming a losing battle.  Tim was working, but still not making the amount of money he was making before he was laid off.  He got a job working for his dad’s company in September of 2004, but he was paid by commission, so our income was still unsteady.

By November 2004, all of our credit cards were maxed to a tune of about $30,000.  We also owned two cars that we were making payments on.  We had run out of options.  We decided to declare bankruptcy.  I remember sitting in the lawyer’s office going over all our debt and feeling so defeated and so dirty.  I was so disappointed in ourselves that we had let it go so far.  I was mad at God because he did not rescue us.  When we went to court to settle the bankruptcy, I still did not feel good.  Yes, our debt was gone, but I felt like I had shirked on my responsibility to repay what I had spent.

In the months that followed, we struggled to figure out how to live on less money.  Especially hard because we now had no credit to fall back on.  We had to learn to live within our means and that was so difficult.  I had to go to a cash system so I would not over spend.  I actually had to tell myself no to so many things that I wanted…things that in the past I would have just bought with my credit cards.  I couldn’t figure out why we were still struggling…why God was not stepping in to help.

Gradually, we began to climb out of the hole we had dug for ourselves.  We began to understand why God allowed this season in our lives to happen.  See, before all this happened we thought things were perfect, but we were actually deceiving ourselves.  We lived happily and got all that we wanted, but we were living beyond our means by using credit.  We did not feel the pain, because we were able to make all of our payments.  But, it says in Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” We were held in bondage to our debtors and did not even realize it.  When we lost a large part of our income, we were hurt badly.  I think that if God had come to rescue us immediately, we would have learned nothing.  Our habits would not have changed.  We had to feel the pain in order to make a change.  I think God does this from time to time to teach us lessons.  There are seasons for everything in our lives.  Ecclesiastes says in 3:1,6 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;”.  We were in a season of loss.  We had to learn to live without everything we wanted. We had to remember that God promised to provide everything we needed, Matthew 6:25,3334, but not necessarily all we wanted.  It is our job to learn the difference.

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