Years ago, when Beve and I were less gray (him), less saggy (me), a lot younger (as were our chublets) and a whole lot more energetic, we ceremoniously cut up our credit cards one day. It was just some random afternoon while said chublets were playing outside and we were fed up to our eye-teeth with the bondage we felt from those credit cards. It was both freeing and terrifying. I remember how the scissors struggled to cut those cards and how symbolic that seemed, because the struggle to do it, to let go and fight against the tide of the credit card culture we live in, just about did me in. Beve seemed both more convinced of the wisdom of our course and inured to the culture. So those cards went in the trash.
But this isn't a story of success from that moment on. Once we moved from the place and season--and I left a job to return to graduate school--we allowed credit to re-enter our lives. First it was a small thing. Just an expense here or there, which we carefully paid for every month. Then, one thing led to another, a big expense came for which we had no reserves, then another...and we were sucked in. Paying for things without the income to cover them. And feeling the pain of it each month as we stared at the bills and wondered how on earth we'd gotten so far in the red, and how we'd find our way back to black.
This isn't something that is unique to us. I realize that, but it feels like a private shame. Something none of us admit straight out, unless you happen to be extremely good at money and accounting. Like our oldest daughter. Others I know as well. But we aren't. Sometimes, when I think of all the ways I fail God, I'm certain that my failure to do well with the resources He's given us is chief among them. I try very hard not to even think about it...except for that day each month when I have to face the bills along side the income and can't work out how it's supposed to work out. Sigh.
So one night, several months ago, when you might have thought me deeply asleep, I was awakened suddenly with the strong word that we had to pay off those credit cards and cut them up again. Even my (beloved) Nordstrom card which (to my shame) I didn't cut up that first time, but hid in my dresser, since I'd had it since long before even Beve was in my life. And the others. Not that there are so many, but a significant amount of debt has accumulated on those cards. So...rather than save for retirement, or go on a trip, or do something wonderful, or something else, we took a portion of the money my parents left me, and yesterday I paid off our credit-debts. Completely. I realize how fortunate we are that we were given this money to do this, and though it's probably not what Mom would have wished us to do, I remember how Dad struggled with bills each month, and know he would be glad that his money could help us this way. It's a gift that I do not--dare not!!!--take lightly.
We begin 2011 credit-debt free. And a HUGE weight is off my shoulders this morning as a result. But...the fight begins anew this morning, because the insidious temptation to spend more than we have surrounds us. And it is clear that this is an area of weakness for us. So though I am not a resolution-maker, because by their very nature they are destined for failure, I am a firm believer in the power of God over the weaknesses in my life. The Holy Spirit can and will shore up the weak places in Beve and me. And part of that shoring comes with confession. So I use this post as my confession both of my past failures and my desperate need for His ongoing presence in this area of my life.
And...I ask you to consider what He might be asking of you as you start this year. What is/are the weak place(s) of your life that only He can fill up and shore up? What are the ongoing failures that haunt you? He is able to keep you from falling. As you start this new year, let your imagination run wild with who and what He might make of you.