On Debt and Dreams
A Kindred story by Kellie Chaney
Proverbs 22:7: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”
We’re debt free! Don’t get too excited; we still have a mortgage, a grocery allowance and I have no fancy purses or jeans that were made well. What they don’t really tell you about busting it for six years to pay off all your student loans is that once you’re done...you are at ZERO. Not a positive net worth. The budget still stands and you jump right into building up your savings, and then start looking at retirement plans, then set up a savings plan for your kids’ college, and then I guess sometime after that the Dollar Bill Showers begin. I’ll let you know when we get there…in what I’m pretty sure will be one hundred million years. The Bible says some pretty um, clear, things about money but I’m hesitant to slap the label of ‘Christian’ on anything I’m about to say here. I think finances are as much of a heart issue as anything else, and each person will have a unique philosophy and experience because our hearts, minds and dreams are unique. Amen.
I truly love to talk to people about their finances. I know it is super weird and uncomfortable to be on the receiving end if you’re not asking for it. In most social situations I will definitely bring up debt and hint around or maybe even ask directly how much debt you have and what kind it is. I’ll ask awesome sweat-provoking questions like “How long it will take you to pay it off?” and then smile really big, make some sort of self-deprecating joke to try to distract you from all the sweat you are sweating.
The reason I really love asking these type of questions is because the conversation of debt inevitably leads directly into my absolute actual most favorite thing to talk about: dreams. I love to get to the heart of it: what are your dreams? What deep desires did God plant in your heart? What things do you want so fiercely that you haven’t dared whisper it out loud to a soul?
DREAMS! The bigger the better. I was born a dreamer. I have been coming up with the endless possibilities of what I would do/be/see/learn “when I grow up” since I was old enough to realize that I was not grown up. And now that I am grown up, I am still coming up with dream-after-dream. I am constantly dreaming about what our life will be look like once our kids are a little bigger, when we get to finally adopt our bonus babies, when we build our dream house, when we’re in our sixties with wrinkly faces, where we’ll take vacations with our grandkids...
I can’t turn it off.
I dream little dreams too. Sometimes I want to to buy coffee for the person behind me in the Starbucks drive thru. Sometimes I want to tip the waitress $100. Sometimes I want to just offer a free photo session to somebody because I think they need to see the beauty of what’s in front of them. Sometimes I want to invite a brand new mama over and make her a hot meal and hold her baby while she eats it. Sometimes I want to buy coffee and breakfast for the team I serve with at church just because I think they are spectacular. Sometimes I want to pay our babysitter double her normal rate because I heard her singing songs with my kids for an hour straight while I worked.
All those things cost money and require a little bit of time. Those are two things that were in short supply before we were out of debt. Before we focused our finances on knocking out the debt, I had no “extra” time. I was working constantly. I spent every waking moment working to pay the bills, and then to have extra “spending money” so I could get coffee, see movies and buy more stuff. Because STUFF! Yes, I definitely needed another decorative pumpkin. I did. I really did. What I didn’t realize is that I was trading thousands of little decorative pumpkins for some of my heart’s greatest desires.
At some point I realized that my debt was a wall separating me from the dreams that God had placed in my heart and soul. Everything changed. Certainly, the big ones, but even the little ones, the everyday generosity of my minutes and dollars were overshadowed by thousands of dollars in debt.
So if you are considering getting in or out of debt I want you to imagine that we are at a Super Bowl party and I have cornered you over a bowl of Fritos and I am smiling hard:
What are your dreams? The big dreams? The little everyday dreams?
Will this debt prevent you from walking into that dream? Will the absence of this debt and my control over my time and money get me to that dream?
Before you even try to get that budget on paper — the dreams go first and then the rest will follow. Let’s go, friend!
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.