In 2015, my finances were a mess. I had maxed out my credit and had nowhere else to turn. I owed more than twice my annual salary, and no matter how hard I worked and what extra jobs I did, our debt was only increasing under the weight of high interest rates. I was stuck, in bondage, literally living out the words in Proverbs, “…the borrower is a slave to the lender.” To top it all off, my wife had no idea. Sure, she knew we had “a little debt,” but not to the extent it truly was. I knew it was time to tell her the truth and own the fact that I had led us poorly in the area of finances. It was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had. Trust was broken. Pain was deep. I found myself broken on the floor of my living room with no one else around as I cried out to God for help. And help, He did! But to fully understand it, I’d like to rewind the story ten more years.
No one ever wakes up, suddenly, under mountains of debt. Large debts almost always start small. For us, it was the purchase of a brand-new SUV. In preparation of having our first child, we decided to get rid of our older car that was beginning to give us problems. To this day, I still remember that feeling of “I probably shouldn’t,” as we agreed to the deal. But with two incomes, we were fine. That was until my wife never returned to work after our daughter’s birth…a day I knew was coming even as I signed my name on the contract. I justified it with “I could always sell it if things got too tight,” but it’s easy to fall in love with the new and flashy, expecting grown-up rewards before you’ve ever really grown up. Plus, as a people pleaser and wanting to make my wife happy, I wasn’t willing to have the hard conversation.
From that point on, finances were tight, and I should have sat down with my wife right then. But pride, also, got in the way, and I was determined to fix it myself since the “family finances were my responsibility.” It’s funny how God never allows the son He loves to go undisciplined, and He didn’t with me. He allowed our A/C to go out. Cha-ching! He allowed over $5000 of mold damage to ravage the back wall of our house due to a faulty re-roof job, of which insurance denied. Cha-ching! We had more kids. CHA-CHING!!! One after another. Year after year. Cha-ching. Cha-ching. Cha-ching! Which brings us back to my living room carpet soaked in tears…where my Heavenly Father wanted me all along.
So, what did HE do? He brought us a Godly couple to counsel us through the hard conversations, budgeting, and difficult decisions, including my wife having to go back to work. He provided anonymous envelopes in our mailbox with date-night gift cards. A dear family gave us money for one-fifth of our mold damage. Instance after instance, time and time again, God came through, and what took us 10 years to build up, God tore down in a little over five years. Today, we are debt free! Only God could do that. And guess what? That SUV still sits in my driveway…with 200,000 miles on it, of course. God is good!