Getting out of debt sucks.  

Last year Ted and I had made some dumb decisions and gotten ourselves into some trouble on our Mastercard.  It had been hanging over us for the year and every time attempted getting out of debt – and thought we had gotten somewhere – sure enough, the next bill came in with a balance owing much higher than we wanted. 

Knowing some big expenses were coming our way over the next 3 months I was starting to stress majorly.  Getting out of debt was consuming me.

It became all that I could think about; I was on edge and sleep eluded me night after night. 

Tension also entered my relationship with Ted because I wasn’t talking to him at all about how I was feeling…little did I know he was struggling with the same worry.  

Around the end of November I finally dumped it all out to him. I shared how panicky I was feeling and the extreme lack of sleep. I was scared that getting out of debt would be impossible.

It felt good to have an open discussion about it and finally put it all out there.  

What I didn’t know was that since we had gotten married 3 years ago, Ted had been setting money aside, bit by bit, with me none the wiser.  When he began doing this, he didn’t really know why he was doing it…for a vacation? To finish the driveway? 

No idea but steadily he put money aside, week after week.  I’m sure he didn’t want to blow it on getting out of debt. The only thing I was aware of was that every time he got a loonie or toonie, he would save it instead of spend it.

After that night of talking where he realized how much our financial situation was eating me alive, he came to me while I got ready the next morning.  “After the kids go to bed tonight, let’s count how many loonies and toonies we have and just see what we can put towards this.” 

Deal. I did NOT know what was coming that night.  

Ted secretly went to the bank and withdrew all that he had been saving and threw it on the bed under the coins.  He told me to go upstairs and start counting but when I got there and started dealing with coins, I discovered $20 bills hidden under them! Lots of them! 

I was completely stunned so when he entered the bedroom I said, “Ted! There’s bills in here!!!!” 

He just smiled at me. “Did you know this??? Did you know there were bills in here?”, I asked. He just kept smiling and then quietly told me what he had been doing all those years.  

Relief was the biggest emotion I felt at that moment.  Oh my goodness. I can’t even describe it. One hour ago, getting out of debt had felt impossible! 

We had gotten ourselves into this financial situation and it was like a free, bonus “Pass Go” card.  We giggled as we counted it all. When we were done we learned that we had almost enough to completely wipe out the debt on the credit card. 

I sat on the bed, bewildered, teary-eyed and just grinned at him…so thankful for what he had done. 

Then I sobbed. He was at a loss as to what was going on and asked why I was crying. I told him I was just so relieved…that I couldn’t believe he had done this…that I felt so much stress and pressure leave me in that moment. I was just so so thankful to him and for him.  

He proceeded to go to the closet to get ready for bed.


getting out of debt

In the next 60 seconds I had a complete heart shift and a new panic attack.  The poor guy was clueless. By the time he got back into bed and we turned the lights out, I was quiet and distant…all celebration had left the room and I just wanted to go to sleep and be done talking about it.  

I am embarrassed to admit where my thoughts went. Warning: it really is quite petty and stupid. Let me try to put it into words now: 

“Look what he did.  He’s been the responsible one…saving, planning. I’m the one who always spends and he had to come save the day.  I’m always the screw up and here he is coming to the rescue…using the money for getting out of debt.

“He probably wanted to use that money to finish the patio and the driveway and now I took that from him. Now I owe him.   He is better than me and I am the loser. You better just do whatever he says…watch whatever he wants to watch on tv…because now you owe him. You owe him. He did all of this for you and what did you do?  

“He probably thinks he is so awesome for doing this. He is probably so proud and gloating in his head about how great he is. He knows he is better than me now. Now there is proof.  Great.  

“My life is over now because I just have to do whatever he wants now.  How long will it take to pay this off? Till I’m not lesser than him anymore? Talk about getting out of debt. What a jerk.”

Yep. 100% true.  I got up the next morning so sad.  All joy had been sucked out of the entire house and poor Ted was completely in the dark.  

Before the house woke up I went to have a quiet time. I don’t remember what I read that morning or what the devotion was about, but I still got hit in the face with a major lesson.  One that I think about often now. 

It is hard to describe or understand what God did for us when he died and rose again for us…it is so hard to understand grace and what that is.  After this whole money thing, though, I think I have a pretty clear understanding of my reaction to what God did and to grace. 

I don’t like getting out of debt but I don’t like it when someone helps me either.
I feel less than.  I feel in debt.  I feel like I owe.

Now I have to do what He wants, or suck up or whatever, because now I have to make up for what He did.  I feel completely guilty and now I must live a life of obligation, just like I felt like now Ted was in control and got to call all the shots going forward because he is the good guy, the one who saved Nancy. 

I no longer saw it for what it was…all the excitement, amazement, wonder and shock was gone. The joy and relief of getting out of debt went up in smoke. 

I had diminished his genius idea to an arrogant move from someone who always seems better than me. There was no more celebration, relief, gratitude…just bitterness.  

Is that me with God?  Do I look at Him like a jerk who now lords it over me that He saved me?  I needed Him to help me with getting out of debt.  Do I feel like I owe Him? As if I could do something – or an accumulation of somethings – that would render me equal and free me from His tyranny?  

Ted was just trying to free me from my stress and anxiety. It was pure compassion!  He was trying to give me peace of mind and put me in a better position. I had this huge burden that was ruining me and he was trying to take it off of my shoulders…but I had turned it into some kind of an enemy-move. 

I have been walking around this life with a huge burden…you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know I’ve fallen short, to know I struggle; that I haven’t always been who I should be…I struggle with worry and fear and anxiety.  I lash out at people without much thought. I’m just not always the person I want to be.

And you know, even the things I couldn’t necessarily control are a burden. 

I learned last June that I have never forgiven myself for getting divorced.  I couldn’t have done a single thing to save my marriage and yet I feel 100% responsible for its demise…so much so that I still give that relationship power to ruin me on certain days.  

Why would I be bitter, angry or live my life in a begrudging fashion because He wanted to set me free from these things? It was pure compassion!

He wanted to tell me I am not my divorce. I am not my depression.  I am not all the bad things my head tells me that I am. I am not alone. I am not worthless. I am not my mistakes. 

I am not my laziness where I choose not to do good things nor am I my impulsiveness where I do things I shouldn’t have.  I often feel the ‘step’ in stepmother represents that I was a failure once and required a do-over. 

I am not a do-over. I am not a failure.  

I am loved. 

I am made by Him who composed me with good things, not a mish mash of crap.  

I am someone who’s God carries her through her depression…who sees the tears that have no explanation.  I am someone who’s God guided her through a terrible marriage and divorce…and showed her the beauty in second chances.  I am someone who God made to have a uterus to carry only one baby, but a heart big enough to love four. 

I am someone who’s God loves her to death and wants her to live life to the full. 

And you can’t do that without getting out of debt first.

This is a good thing.  Ted saving that money in secret and surprising me when I needed it most was a good thing.  There was not a bad thing about it.  And God saving me and loving me when I most need it?  This is a good thing. Not a bad thing about it.  

I don’t want to take away from that.  I don’t want to remove the celebration, the party, the excitement, the amazement, the wonder.  I don’t want to diminish this to an enemy-move that will be lorded over me till the day I die.

This is a good thing.

And I am thankful. I am relieved. I am loved.
No more getting out of debt. No more sleepless nights.
Thank God.

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