Thursday, April 26, 2012

Honestly Speaking...

Every time I start a post like this, I always have to talk myself through the fact that I make this blog 100% honest. It's not because this is my journal (It's not. My journal would scare the crap out of you with its mounds of honesty and raw vulnerability.), but it's because part of living in the broken world we are in is the bad stuff. When we ignore the bad stuff, it doesn't go away. It festers. And then it gets infected and affects other parts of our lives.

I don't like it when that happens. I also encourage other people to try to recognize that there is bad stuff out there and not everything about becoming a Christian is sparkling rainbows and prancing unicorns.

Just so we're clear, THIS is what I'm talking about. Christianity is NOT THIS.

Enter honest blog post.


So, here's some honesty that we should start with: I said a BIG "Yes" to God recently. I was asked to share a more recent part of my testimony with a larger sized group of women at my church (the group that I attend). This scares the crap out of me for various reasons, but I felt like it was what God wanted me to do, so I said, "Yes." I am being video-taped for it tomorrow, and it's being shown next week. I know that the enemy would love nothing more than to really jack up my confidence in Christ by slinging lies in my direction. I have been mentally wrapping myself around the idea that this week was going to be stressful for many reasons (the day that the video is shown, I am driving back to my hometown and I have a crap-ton of things to do before I can even go). I also knew that there would be some amount of spiritual attack, in light of me saying, "Yes" to God.


I'm just going to put this out there. I am in tremendous student loan debt. Saying that up front will keep me from having to talk in code and say "That Thing" or something similar like I have done in the past.

Ever since I started watching the bills from my student loans pile up, I have felt shame, embarrassment and guilt. This is because of words that have been spoken to me over the years, and how I have interpreted said words. Regardless of the intent of the person speaking (which have been both good and bad intentions), this is what I heard, "Student loan debt means that you are failing at life," or "How stupid of your to take out loans that you thought you could pay off quickly. Not only were you stupid then, but your are still stupid," or my favorite (which was actually said to me, not merely an interpretation), "Because you have student loans, you will be forever single. No man is going to marry you with student loans debt." Okay, so the forever part was added by me. But, you get the idea, right?

Okay. Just stop whatever you are thinking and take a breath. A deep breath. Some of you may be thinking many, many things and may want to come to my rescue to save me from such thoughts.


Realize two things:

1) God is working on me in these areas. I used to be so ashamed of my debt that I wouldn't even talk to God about it. I didn't think He cared enough about me to provide a job that paid enough to help me pay the loans off. For the past nine months, I have been inviting God to be a part of this area of my life, which has allowed Him to begin healing from the lies I was believing. Work in progress, but I try to live day-to-day and just try to combat the lies as they come. Sometimes I just have to start of saying things that I know to be true until I am calm enough to see the truth in this specific area.

2) I have a family member that co-signed for a few of my loans, so there is an entirely different dynamic in there. It's not just about my credit and bills and debt. I am also named responsible for another person's credit and bills and debt. Something that I don't readily admit: Paying any and all bills in general stresses me out. Responsibility in general stresses me out. There is risk to responsibility. If you fail at responsibility, then you are considered by some irresponsible. I have insecurities and anxieties (that most people don't realize because of my cheerful demeanor) that go deep. Part of this comes from the pressure I felt at a young age to succeed at x, y or z. It wasn't because I wanted the praise. I think that I feared criticism from adults, peers, animals and random plants (a plant criticizing me would be it dying because I forget to water it).

This has happened to me so many times that it should be illegal for me to own a plant.


Enter grace.

God has grace for me. God has grace available for everyone. I know this. But in moments like this (when I am combating nasty words from people that go completely against what I know to be true) I have to try hard to wrap my mind around the fact that God has joy for me. He has joy and peace and forgiveness and grace and sappy moments when He makes it clear just how much He cares for me.

I think that a lie that I believed for a long time was that I wasn't allowed to experience joy or happiness until I paid off my student loans (I didn't come up with that idea on my own). The truth is that someday, I will be debt free. God has made it clear that He wants freedom for me in this area (not just me, though.... He wants freedom for everyone in every area of their lives). He will provide. I am not not trying.

Enter truth.

Is it okay for me to be depressed about how much debt I'm in? No. God wants me to keep my eyes on Him and follow Him to that freedom. Is it okay for me to beat myself up about how much debt I'm in? No. Seasons are seasons. This one is a big, long one. But, I know it's not forever. There will be a day when I will not be financially burdened in this area. I will have more options for ministry, jobs, countries to live in, etc. That is the big picture. "Big picture" Truth always trumps "what I think is true in the middle of a crisis" Truth.


Take that, satan!

Based on today's events, I may have a few more of these posts by this time next week.

I appreciate your prayers.

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